West University council, residents voice disapproval of Poor Farm Ditch Plans

West University Place City Council meets at 3800nUniversity Blvd.

West University Place City Council meets at 3800nUniversity Blvd.

Several city council members and members of the public spoke out against plans to improve and widen Poor Farm Ditch at West University’s June 10 council meeting.

The agenda for that evening included a resolution that would formally express the council’s displeasure with the plans, citing concerns that the improvements would disproportionately and negatively affect West University residents living by the ditch, and that there wasn’t enough communication between the Harris County Flood Control District and the city during the design process.

“The resolution as gotten some legs, and it’s opened up some dialogue that was not there before,” City Manager Dave Beach said.

Bob Scott, a West University resident who lives next to Poor Farm Ditch, expressed his concerns about the plans and invited the council to come out and look at the ditch themselves.

“The encroachments are serious encroachments. It’s hard to imagine how they got there,” Scott said. “When you compare that to the green space on the other side, I think the point we’ve been trying to make now for 15 years will be obvious.”

Council voted to postpone the resolution that would formally express the city’s disapproval of the plans until they could engage in further discussion with the flood control district, and that the council would revisit the resolution depending on how those discussions go.

Mayor Bob Higley, who first suggested tabling the resolution, said that he and former Harris County Judge Ed Emmet are working together to set up a meeting with HCFCD about the ditch.

“I would rather go into that meeting having tabled this rather than having gone in with a resolution,” Higley said. “Ed thought that was advisable to encourage dialogue, and I agree with that. I think it would be the smartest way to get some airing of our position with cool heads.”