On Sept. 2, Houston City Council approved the purchase of a $1.4 million tract of land at the 6400 block of West Bellfort Avenue for the project, which will add 208 acre-feet of detention and help mitigate the risk of flooding in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“For the people who have flooded several times, this is a long-awaited project,” said Martha Castex-Tatum, vice mayor pro tem and the council member representing the area.
The project comes after the city reached an $3.4 million deal to buy a former Shell Oil Co. property in October 2019 for use as a 13-acre detention pond. Both projects are adjacent to a park and network of detention basins known collectively as the Willow Waterhole, just southwest of the I-610 Loop.
“What I would say to the people of Westbury and those who have been here a long time is: 'Don’t sell. Don’t leave. Stay, because steps are being taken to make the area a lot more resilient and a lot more sustainable,'” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said after the October purchase.
Castex-Tatum said the new Spellman Detention Basin is as a sign of mixed progress because a recently approved permit for a convenience store along the edge of Willow Waterhole could increase runoff in the area if construction plans are not carefully vetted.
“We’ve taken two steps forward, but we could be taking a big step backwards,” she said.
Turner said he has asked Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock and Houston Flood Czar Steve Costello to review the permit again.