West U, Bellaire, Southside Place adjust operations, programs to prepare for COVID-19

City of West U municipal building
The city of West University Place has declared a local state of disaster and closed some city facilities and services, while the city of Bellaire has also closed facilities and services. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

The city of West University Place has declared a local state of disaster and closed some city facilities and services, while the city of Bellaire has also closed facilities and services. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

The city of West University Place has declared itself under a state of local disaster amid the coronavirus outbreak.

West U, the city of Southside Place and the city of Bellaire have also closed facilities and canceled services for the near future.


West U Mayor Bob Higley signed the declaration March 17, which allows West U to be more responsive to developing issues and requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on combating COVID-19, City Manager Dave Beach said.

Our local declaration allows us to have more customizable options that fit our community,” Beach said. “It allows the city to be more nimble and responsive to the daily changing requirements.”

Before the local declaration was made, West U was covered under a March 16 emergency declaration by Harris County.


The local declaration will last for at least the next seven days and allows the city “to take any actions necessary to promote health and suppress the virus,” according to the signed document. Those could include the quarantining of people and occupied structures, examining and regulating hospitals, establishing quarantine stations, and more.

It also reiterates the CDC-recommended limit of 10 people for gatherings in West U. As a result, City Council will consider an extension of the declaration during its meeting on March 23, which will be held remotely to minimize exposure of residents and employees, according to an announcement on the city’s website.

In the meantime, these are the services, programs and facilities that have been canceled or closed for West U, Southside Place and Bellaire:

West University

  • All court dates for the municipal court through May 8 have been canceled and will be reset.

  • West U Recreation Center and Community Building/Senior Center is temporarily closed, and all activities are suspended. Memberships that have been paid in full will be frozen, with expiration dates pushed back. Senior Services staff members are still available for assistance by phone.

  • Customers that routinely pay a utility bill in person are strongly encouraged to use various other options available when making payments. Mail payments, utilizing the city drop box on Amherst Street next to the U.S. Postal Service mailbox near the fire department, and paying via the online payment portal are still available.


Bellaire


  • The municipal court has been canceled through March 25.

  • The Bellaire Recreation Center will be closed, and all recreation programs will be suspended. Bellaire pools, parks and tennis courts will remain open.

  • The library is open during normal operating hours, and circulation services and computers are available. All library programs have been suspended until further notice.

  • The Utility Billing customer service window remains open. The city still offers convenient online payment options allowing residents to pay utility bills from anywhere.


Southside Place


  • As of March 17, city parks are open, but equipment and amenities are not sanitized on a routine basis, according to the city.

  • Pavilion, clubhouse and deck rentals have been canceled through April 15. No new reservations will be taken until after that date.

  • The municipal court is suspended through the end of March.

  • For in-person utility payments should be placed in the city drop box or sent through the mail.

By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.