February 10, 2022

A Roadmap for Our Next City Manager

We’ve made hiring Bellaire’s next City Manager a top priority early in this new Council term, and through our first month in office we’re well on our way.  We’ve selected an executive search firm to assist us in identifying and recruiting qualified candidates, and we’ll soon be kicking things off with them.  But looking beyond the hiring process, we also have some other work to do if we are to give our next City Manager—and ourselves—the best chance at success.

For him or her to be able to hit the ground running, we'll need to have established where we’re going.  Council sets the overall vision and policy direction, which the City Manager and staff are then charged with implementing.  We’ve taken an important first step, starting this term with a professionally facilitated planning session in which we worked on refining our governance model, and on developing our priorities, strategies and goals as a Council.

Continuing that emphasis, and with the caveat they’re still in draft form and haven’t yet been formally adopted, I organized this year’s State of the City Address around the Strategic Focus Areas we’ve come up with:  Community, Governance, Infrastructure, Public Safety, Quality of Life, and Land Use and Zoning.

In my address I talked about the unusually high number of staff vacancies we're currently experiencing, and what we’re doing to get those positions filled.  And I shared with you some of the highlights of the past year within each of our Strategic Focus Areas.  These are our guiding principles for the organization moving forward, and will help ensure the staff are aligned with Council’s policy direction when our next City Manager arrives.

February 3, 2022

Weathering Winter

The arctic blast is here.  Though we certainly don't expect this to be a repeat of last February’s severe winter storm and resulting statewide electrical grid failure and local water system issues, lessons learned from that event have informed our preparedness for this one.  Public Works has this week provided a high-level overview of our winterization improvements made over the past year.

To better protect our water and wastewater systems against prolonged freezing temperatures, we’ve implemented such safeguards as heat tape, cables and industrial blankets for outdoor equipment, with generators at the ready should we lose power.  We’ve brought in propane heaters for indoor mechanical controls and SCADA devices.  Throughout the City we’ve been replacing aging valves and pumps that are prone to failure in freezing conditions.  All of these improvements have been tested in anticipation of the incoming weather and are functioning properly.  We’ve additionally been in touch with the City of Houston, from which we source half our water supply due to regional subsidence regulations, and they assure us they’re also far more prepared now than they were a year ago.

The Bellaire Emergency Operations Center is activated at Level III—Increased Readiness.  Crews have been out making preparations for potential impacts and are on standby to respond as needed over the coming days.  As of now we anticipate all city offices and facilities will remain open as normal, but there could be some service delays, such as for solid waste and recycling collection, as conditions deteriorate.  Be sure you’re signed up to receive our emergency communications and updates through PrepareBellaire and Notify Me.

In preparing your own property, remember the 4 P’s:  People, Pets, Pipes and Plants.  Register with the City’s AquaHawk utility portal if you’ve not done so already, to receive automated notifications of water leaks in case of any pipe damage.  The roads may become slick overnight with sleet and ice, so please be safe and don’t take any chances.  For non-emergency assistance the Bellaire EOC can be reached at (713) 668-0487; for life-threatening emergencies call 911.