July 19, 2021

Picnic in the Park This Thursday

The next installment in our 2021 community events series, continuing with the #OneBellaire theme, is happening this Thursday evening at Feld Park.  Modeled after the 2019 grand reopening of Lafayette Park, this Picnic in the Park will feature carnival-style games, food, music and more.  There will even be a giant inflatable waterslide for the kids!  It’ll be a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends and neighbors—and to connect with new ones—and representatives from several of our city departments and community partners will be on hand with helpful information and, of course, lots of fun swag.  We’re delighted to showcase Feld Park this time around, and for you to enjoy all it has to offer.

Other upcoming events include our Party at the Pavilion fall concert series, resuming August 6, and our 10th annual Dive-In Movie Night, featuring Jumanji, on August 12.  We’re thrilled to be coming back together, in person, and look forward to seeing you!

July 15, 2021

Hats Off to Our Top Cop

Throughout the course of his distinguished career, he hasn’t just been a police officer, department leader, and ultimately chief.  He’s been one of our neighbors, actively involved in numerous community organizations giving freely of his time and energy, and above all, a friend.  As he now retires after 45 years of dedicated service to the City of Bellaire, we salute Chief Byron Holloway and celebrate all that he has meant to us.

Byron began his career with the Bellaire Police Department in 1976 as a dispatcher, and rose quickly through the ranks, being promoted to patrol officer in 1977, senior patrol officer in 1986, sergeant in 1988, lieutenant in 1992, assistant chief in 1997, and then chief of police in 2012.  He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the FBI Command College, and his commendations include the High-Five Award in 1995, special recognition in 2008 for his work on the Bellaire Centennial, and an invitation to the White House as an advisor on implementation of the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, along with many other awards and accolades.

June 21, 2021

Bellaire’s Celebration of Independence is Back!

The swimming pools and Library are open, Camp Paseo is in full swing, and one of our biggest and best annual traditions is back!  Bellaire’s Celebration of Independence will be our first major citywide event since the pandemic took hold and we couldn’t be more excited to bring the community together again as #OneBellaire.  Whether you’ll be riding in the parade or lining up along the route, come on out and join the fun on Saturday, July 3!

To encourage social distancing, and with the added benefit of bringing it more into the neighborhood, the parade route will be different this year.  It will start on South Rice adjacent to Bellaire High School and run north to Linden, ending at Bellaire Town Square where we’ll have the festival as usual, featuring live music, food and entertainment.  The children’s bike parade will start a bit further north, at Evergreen, and will lead the big parade.

Registration is still open for parade entries and festival booths.  Please visit the event page on the City website for more information, or call the Rec Center at (713) 662-8280.  A big thanks to our generous sponsors, and to the Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department staff and special events team, for making this year’s Celebration of Independence possible.

May 26, 2021

North Bellaire Special Development District

The most important thing to know about the newly established North Bellaire Special Development District (NBSDD), which rezones the former Chevron property, is that it’s a planned development-only district.  That makes it the most restrictive (i.e., protective of the neighbors) zoning district anywhere in the City.  With planned developments (PD’s) nothing is allowed by right, and any proposal could be considered only after two levels of review including two public hearings, and with no guarantee of approval.  Simply put, once there’s an actual development application on the table we’ll all get another bite at the apple (two bites, really).

That last part is significant and highlights a common misunderstanding in much of the public input Council received.  Many of the comments—both for and against—seemed targeted at “the developer’s plans” or at a particular outcome, as though it’s already a done deal.  However, we’re just not at that stage of the process yet.  We could have been, had the zoning district been proposed to allow by-right development, thereby preauthorizing anything that complied with its regulations.  But it wasn’t, and that’s the point.  Zoning the property as a PD-only district was merely the next step to soliciting development proposals for future consideration, maximizing the protection of the neighbors’ interests by reserving the right to say no.

May 17, 2021

Departmental Overviews Enhance Budgeting and Transparency

This budget season, our city staff have newly introduced departmental overview presentations in a series of pre-budget Council workshops, to better inform our budgetary decision making and increase transparency.  The idea is to provide Council and the public with a greater understanding of what the budget actually funds in each area of city operations, with the goal of prompting questions and helping everyone involved to be more prepared for the upcoming budget process.  It’s also just good stuff to know for anyone interested in how the City functions.

Each director will give a brief overview of their department, including at a minimum the following:

  • Why statement – department’s purpose
  • Who the department serves – customers
  • What the department does – functional org chart
  • Who is in the department – positional org chart
  • Operating budget overview / history
  • Performance indicators
  • Potential management projects
  • Points to ponder – FY 2022 budget considerations

The Finance Department presented on May 3, and tonight’s pre-budget workshop will feature Parks, Recreation and Facilities, and Public Works.  We’ll hear from Fire and Library on June 7, Police and Development Services on June 21, and the City Manager’s Office, Human Resources, and Information Technology on July 19.  The proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 is also scheduled to be presented that night.

These overviews will be published to the Additional Departmental Information section of our new CRAFT page (City Reporting and Financial Transparency) on the City website, an ongoing effort guided by the Texas Comptroller’s Transparency Stars program.  While much of the page is still under development, we’re proud to have recently been awarded our first Transparency Star, for the Traditional Finances section!  By including the Additional Departmental Information, which goes beyond the five topical areas identified by the program, we’ve taken our commitment to financial transparency still further, and hope you will find this information useful in understanding our city finances.

Budget season continues through adoption of the budget in September and the tax rate in October.  Residents are invited and encouraged to submit questions and feedback, at any point in the process, by e-mail to fy2022budget@bellairetx.gov.

April 23, 2021

The Oasis at Loftin Park

If you’ve driven by during the past week, you’ve surely noticed the art tree temporarily on display in Loftin Park just north of City Hall.  Its colorful, gold-flecked leaves shimmer and dance in the sun, and at night it glows by the light of color-changing LEDs.  “The Oasis,” created by Bellaire resident Paul Robertson, will be there for all to enjoy through the end of July before (hopefully) heading to Burning Man in Nevada if it happens this year.

Having garnered positive attention on social media and attracted lots of passers by to see it in the artist’s front yard, The Oasis was relocated to public property at the invitation of our citizen Culture and Arts Board.  Working with staff they made all the arrangements, and the piece is now on loan from the artist at no cost to the City.  In presenting its recommendation, the Board did a play on the tree theme, tying it to this month’s Planting Palooza.  The installation was formally celebrated yesterday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring the Robertson family, friends and neighbors, and city representatives.

The Oasis enhances public art in Bellaire, contributing to our quality of life and serving as a focal point for community building and civic pride.  It’s uplifting and fun, and comes to us at a time when we can all use some good cheer.  That the artist is one of our own makes it that much more special, and we’re pleased to have this opportunity to showcase his talent and to share it with a wider audience.

April 1, 2021

Planting Palooza–30 Days of Planting!

Our citizen Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Bellaire Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department welcome you to Planting Palooza–30 Days of Planting, throughout the month of April.  We hope you’ll take part and come together with us in growing and improving our community from the ground up, as #OneBellaire.  Planting Palooza will be celebrated daily on social media and the City website to showcase our efforts to keep Bellaire healthy, beautiful and green.  To participate, simply share pictures of your planting projects, no matter how big or small, and enjoy those of your neighbors as well.  Residents, local businesses and organizations are all invited to join the fun!

Planting Palooza will also feature lectures, how-to’s and other informative presentations from area experts.  Several of our community partners including the Nature Discovery Center and Evelyn’s Park, as well as the Bellaire City Library, will host interactive educational and planting events for kids and families.  The Bellaire Business Association will be sponsoring a Family Planting Day on April 10, Patrons for Bellaire Parks will have a pecan tree dedication and seed giveaway on April 14 in the greenspace at the Library, and Trees for Houston will be supplying free seedlings for distribution on Earth Day, April 22, at Evelyn’s Park.  And there’s also a coloring contest for kids, brought to you by our citizen Culture and Arts Board, with prizes to be awarded in each of the pre-K, elementary and middle school categories.

For more information and event updates, keep an eye on the City website and follow Bellaire Parks and Rec on Facebook.  To get involved and share pictures of your planting projects, e-mail palooza@bellairetx.gov and post them on social media, using the hashtag #OneBellaire.  Let’s get planting!

March 4, 2021

Kind Cards, From Your Neighbors

As I emphasized when I first introduced it as our theme for the year, and again in my State of the City Address last month, #OneBellaire belongs to all of us.  While the City will be offering several opportunities for us to come together and reunite as a community, residents are expressly encouraged to bring forward their own ideas as well.  I’m delighted that a group of our neighbors have answered that call, and are reaching out to all of us to ask for our participation in creating and sending Kind Cards.

This is a strictly citizen led initiative, brought about by the recognition that much of what we have in mind for #OneBellaire will involve in-person interaction, once it’s safe to resume public gatherings.  Until then, or even concurrently, the organizers see Kind Cards as a way to reinforce our interconnectedness through a simple act of kindness among neighbors.  Their goal is to reach every single household in Bellaire, as well as every member of the city staff, by creating and distributing postcards with original art and messages of kindness.  They’re on a mission to unite our community and spread the neighborly spirit throughout Bellaire.

March 1, 2021

A Winter Storm Lesson Learned

The City has released, and at tonight’s Council meeting staff will formally present, an After Action Report on the winter storm response.  The Report includes a detailed chronology of emergency operations and departmental activities throughout the event, and identifies both strengths and areas for improvement.  Public Works features prominently in the Report, given the issues we encountered with our water system, and these are documented with full transparency as previously promised.

One thing in particular I want to highlight—(1) because folks have asked about it, and (2) frankly, I’m sensitive to it given my role as the messenger—is the Report’s open acknowledgement that there could have been other causes for the initial loss of water pressure (before the systemwide drop), beyond what was included in our messaging at the time.  “Retrospectively, it is very fair to assume that there [were] other causes” that “should have been considered in the messaging regarding this issue.”  So, it seems, we didn’t get that part quite right.  We take responsibility for that, and count it as a lesson learned.

February 21, 2021

Boil Water Notice Lifted

Great news!  Our test results have come back from the lab and we’re good to go.  Bacterial and chemistry testing, performed by an independent certified laboratory following TCEQ-mandated protocols, have confirmed Bellaire’s system water quality to be of the same high rating as it was prior to this week’s disruption due to the severe winter weather event.  The boil water notice has now been lifted.

Because regional subsidence regulations allow us to source only 50% of our water supply from groundwater, the other half is surface water purchased from the City of Houston.  For so long as their boil water notice remains in effect, we will not be using any water coming from Houston.

To safely resume your water use, turn on both the hot and cold water at each tap (all faucets, showers and bathtubs) and let it run for at least five minutes.  Please note that the water may initially appear cloudy or discolored; this is normal as sediment will have collected in the pipes during the service interruption.  If you use a water dispenser, whether in your refrigerator or mounted on a sink, run it until clear or consider changing the filter.  Inline water filters should also be changed.  Automatic ice dispensers should be cycled and the ice discarded for a full 24 hours.  Run your dishwasher empty one cycle to flush the supply line.  Clothes may be washed as usual.

Being able to use our water again without restrictions is a big step toward regaining a sense of normalcy.  Kudos to our Public Works crews for everything they’ve done this week to bring the system back online as quickly as possible.  We thank you for your patience during this extraordinary time, and should you have any questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact Public Works at (713) 662-8170.