April 11, 2018

Achieving Excellence at Your Bellaire City Library

As we join with cities across America in observing National Library Week, April 8-14, we have yet another reason to celebrate.  Our very own Bellaire City Library has been recognized with the 2017 Achievement of Excellence in Libraries Award by the Texas Municipal Library Directors Association.  Ours is one of only 52 out of 548 public library systems in Texas to receive this prestigious award.

March 26, 2018

Post-Harvey Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan Adopted

Our citizen Task Force, in fulfilling its expanded charge following Hurricane Harvey, has gone well beyond the basic requirements for our continued participation in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.  Its hefty final report is reflective of the broad citizen input received throughout the process, and incorporates a variety of ideas for further evaluation in our ongoing flood mitigation efforts.  At this stage there are still more questions than answers, but the Task Force’s recommendations provide the necessary roadmap for the work yet to come.  The City Council’s formal adoption last week of the updated Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan sets in motion the development of specific actions and projects, with timelines for their potential implementation.

March 9, 2018

Down on the Bayou:  A Closer Look at Project Brays

It’s by far the most significant flood control improvement for our area and has already brought us some measure of relief, with more to come.  It’s of central importance to our ongoing and future planning, because without adequate downstream capacity our other efforts aren’t going to make much of a difference.  Earlier this week members of the City Council, Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force and city staff went down to take a closer look, in person, at Project Brays.  Gary Zika, Federal Projects Manager for the Harris County Flood Control District, was our gracious host and tour guide.

March 6, 2018

Branding Baby Steps

Though branding is about much more than just a logo, naturally that’s what pretty much everyone is focused on.  Some people like the proposed logo.  More people, it appears, don’t.  Most people haven’t commented on it at all.  But based on the public input we have received, it’s obvious the proposal wouldn’t be adopted in its current form and two weeks ago the City Council unanimously agreed not to pursue it any further.  Which is fine; as we've said all along, a new logo could be adopted at the same time as a typography but doesn't necessarily have to be.

Having set the logo aside, last night Council approved the proposed typography, including for signage in the new buildings.  We also formally adopted the verbal identity produced by the branding exercise, which has been very well received.  These are important steps, but baby steps, towards the development of a Bellaire “look and feel” to inform ongoing and future design decisions for a wide range of projects.  In fact, the branding exercise is already influencing potential streetscape improvements downtown, and capital projects that have been on hold for some time are now closer to moving forward.

February 6, 2018

New Look?  Same Great City!

I took the opportunity in my State of the City Address last night to unveil and encourage public input on the rebranding proposal currently under consideration by the City Council.  The primary driver of its development, and timing, is our municipal facilities project currently under construction.  We’ve got some design decisions to make in the very near future concerning signage and interior finishes for the new buildings, which is what prompted the inquiry.  So we’re not just talking about rebranding for the sake of rebranding.

That said, we’re now presented with an opportunity that has the potential to mean so much more.  While the search for our brand identity started long before Harvey, in the storm’s aftermath it has come to symbolize the recovery itself.  The exercise evoked a narrative about Bellaire, and by Bellaire in our own words, that it turns out could not be more timely.

The product is a visual representation of how we see ourselves, and how we want to see ourselves, what we aspire to be.  It’s a reflection of all that is good about Bellaire, in celebration of where we’ve been and where we’re going.  A fresh new look is something we can all rally around as we take pride and inspiration in the rebirth and renewal of our city.

January 31, 2018

Honoring Our Harvey Heroes and Helpers at This Year’s State of the City

Bellaire’s first responders and emergency operations personnel were truly heroic in getting us through the worst disaster we’ve ever experienced.  Given the enormity of the situation, and that we were temporarily cut off from external resources until the waters receded, they couldn’t have done it without a little help from the community.  Folks all over town pitched in where they could, in ways big and small, and working together got everyone to safety.  To say that their efforts literally saved lives is not an exaggeration.

January 25, 2018

Task Force Public Hearing on Draft Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan - Jan. 29, 6:30 pm

The Task Force has been hard at work reviewing and updating the City’s Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan, both to develop meaningful, actionable solutions to our flooding problem and to satisfy the requirements for our continued participation in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.  The Plan starts with a comprehensive risk assessment to identify and define flood hazards—local, regulatory and regional—and then proposes mitigation strategies to address those hazards, all leading to a tangible action plan.  These steps are outlined in the form of a matrix, which is the Task Force’s principal working draft.

January 18, 2018

Kudos to Our Solid Waste Crews

Your city leaders—Council, City Manager, department heads—talk a lot about the high level of services our residents expect, and that we’re committed to providing.  Which is as it should be in a premier enclave community.  The exceptional effort put forth by our solid waste crews during the cold weather event these past few days is just another great example.

December 29, 2017

Looking Back on 2017, Looking Forward as we Rebuild

Looking back on 2017 in Bellaire, it’s impossible to define the year by anything other than Hurricane Harvey.  For many of us, it will linger as the demarcation between our lives as they were and the fresh start it forced upon us.  We will continue to find ourselves referring to nearly everything as “pre-Harvey” and “post-Harvey.”  But as the experiences of other communities following similar disasters have shown, things will get back to normal—albeit a new normal—and sooner than it may seem.  Indeed, they already are.

On the bright side, 2017 also showed us what we’re made of.  The enormity and severity of Harvey’s devastation brought out the best in all of us, and brought us closer together.  We helped our neighbors get through the worst of the storm, and have continued to support each other in the recovery.  Our first responders and city staff from all departments stepped up to the task, without regard to their own Harvey problems at home.  We showed our appreciation for these “Bellaire Brave” with an impressive grassroots effort that raised more than $100,000 in a matter of weeks to help them get back on their feet.  Working together, we’ve overcome immense challenges and it has only made us stronger.

December 11, 2017

Shop Local This Holiday Season

Bellaire Business Association
The Bellaire Business Association supports and promotes area merchants and has recently kicked off its “Shop Local” initiative, urging you to look no further for your holiday shopping needs.  Aside from the convenience of staying nearby and avoiding the hassle and stress of fighting the crowds at the mall, shopping local creates tangible benefits for your very own community.  It’s like giving yourself a gift, and it’s one that keeps on giving.

That we’re often described as a “City of Homes” doesn’t mean our retail sector is unimportant.  Indeed, a healthy commercial property tax base along with the sales taxes local businesses generate directly offset our heavy reliance on residential taxpayers to fund municipal services and projects.  When commerce is lagging, we feel it.  A recent decline in sales tax collections led to an almost 8% decrease in budgeted sales tax revenues for fiscal year 2018, requiring us to make up the difference elsewhere in the General Fund.  Also, many aren’t aware that METRO rebates back to us a portion of the 1% sales tax it collects from Bellaire businesses (the State gets 6.25% and the City the remaining 1%), providing needed funding for city streets and mobility projects.