Comment of the Day: Houston Does Better Work Underground

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON DOES BETTER WORK UNDERGROUND Houston Power“It is always a bit embarrassing that the city that is at the forefront of some of the greatest energy industry construction and engineering marvels in world history (fracking, diagonal drilling, deep water drilling, etc.) stumbles, fumbles and bumbles with every big public infrastructure/amenity project that comes up. Rail from downtown to an airport? Crazy talk. Innovative repurposing of an iconic sports arena? Why not a cheezy convention center thingy instead or just blow it up? Why can’t all the amazing ingenuity, innovation and leadership that is prevalent in the energy industry have some spillover into our public spaces?” [Old School, commenting on How Metro Let an International Design Competition for Houston’s New Central Station Go Down the Drain] Illustration: Lulu

9 Comment

  • Excellent question. Why indeed.

  • Whoa whoa whoa.. Lite rail seems like a good idea to me. Saving the dome? Extremely costly for what we would have gotten. But sure, Houston could use some better planning and public places. Chiefly is accelerating the bayou hike and bike trails and adding to that network. And hey, maybe even add a full riverwalk to one like the woodlands or San Antonio. But to answer why people don’t focus as much energy on innovating public spaces? It’s because there’s no money in it. We’re capitalists and last I checked the Houston economy was doing ok for it. Granted it’s largely dependent on oil and not all politics. But still, have you seen how many new plants are being built in this business friendly area? Boomtown

  • Who wants rail to the airports?

    Crazy talk.

  • You nearly had a stroke complaining about a few million bucks spent on infrastructure in front of the Heights Walmart, yet now you complain that we do not blow $200 million refurbing the Dome or billions to run an underutilized rail to the airport? Wow.

  • I’ll let old school for him/herself … But… Nuance does not equate to hypocrisy. FYI.

  • @Dave: The complaint about the Walmart infrastructure spending wasn’t over the amount. In fact, the amount of the 380 agreement proved to be too little as it completely failed to address the Yale St. bridge, failed to connect the sidewalk on the west side of Yale from the bridge to Koehler (i.e. there is no sidewalk where there used to be one), failed to adequately mitigate tree canopy loss and created wider sidewalks by simply eliminating the planting strips that usually go between the sidewalk and the street instead of expanding the right of way to give pedestrians more room. The issue with that infrastructure spending wasn’t the amount of money paid. It was who was and wasn’t paying for it. Walmart and the developer basically got a tax gift as they would have been required to do a substantial amount of the improvements in order to do the development and were more than capable of footing the bill, as many other developers have in Houston.
    My complaint is that while Houston is a boom town for the energy sector, there has been too little spillover of the same innovation, determination and drive into the public space. Discovery green and market square park are great. But why is it taking almost a decade to finally get the Sunset Coffee building turned into a new amenity downtown? Add to that our limp wristed rail line, decaying Astrodome and overall lack of drive and vision for public spaces and you have to wonder why those who are driving the energy sector to such great heights haven’t put the same pressure on and energy into our public spaces?

  • You dont see the difference? Public vs private.

  • “Public vs. private…” (eyeroll).

    Unless one spends one’s entire life in some leafy gated enclave, we all end up using public spaces at one time or another, starting with the road at the end of the driveway (or outside the gate).

    I agree with Old School’s irritation at what looks to be at best a waste of public resources on a private entity that certainly excels at soaking them up, at the expense of the people who have to interact with that space, even if we never set foot into Walmart.

  • I am all for public spaces, my comment was more on management and wastefulness. Public things arent a waste, but public money is many times wasted. Look at the best public spaces in Houston and you will find that many of them have private business that pull the purse strings and can control the management thus actually have accountability.