Future upgrades or replacement of city facilities, improvements to Poor Farm Ditch, and considering and identifying stormwater detention sites are just a few of the priorities and goals approved by the West University Place City Council during its July 26 meeting.

These topics were formed by the city of West University Place’s strategic vision process, a process performed annually by the council that identifies short-, mid- and long-term goals for the city and specific priorities for the upcoming year, according to a July 26 agenda report.

Five broad goals were approved by council as well as over a dozen priorities sorted by priority level and by whether an agenda item is considered "policy" or "management."

“The things that are purely policy are those items that are going to be in council’s hands to render a decision on before action,” Council Member John Barnes said in a July 27 interview. “Those that are management’s responsibility are those things that they are going to be taking some action on before they get to the council.”

The July 26 vote approves the final draft of the goals and priorities formed over three four-hour workshops done alongside a facilitator. The facilitator spoke to each council member individually, received feedback on individual priorities and grouped those together into various categories.

The vote to approve the goals and priorities during the July 26 meeting was unanimous, though Barnes asked for the item to be pulled from the consent agenda for discussion.

The reason, he said, had to do with security and environmental concerns related to improvements to Poor Farm Ditch.

Other council members, such as Melanie Bell, said they believed any improvements made to the ditch would take those kinds of concerns into account as part of the planning process.

“Those are good points to bring up—environmental and security,” Bell said at the July 26 meeting. “I was just including those in the best practices.”

West University residents have historically raised concerns about any improvements made to the ditch, which abuts dozens of homes. In 2019, some council members and residents spoke out against a Harris County-Southside Place improvement plan in the area.

“Harris County Flood Control District and Southside [Place] had come up with a plan, without really consulting West [University Place] that would have moved the existing footprint of the ditch eastward,” said Barnes, who was a council member at the time. “That would have resulted in a loss of green space to West [University Place] and a net gain to Southside [Place] without any corresponding benefit to West [University Place].”

Besides improvements to Poor Farm Ditch, here is a list of some of the priorities and the expected next steps. A full list can be found here:

  • City facilities master plan—future upgrades/replacement

    • September 2021: develop process outline

  • Poor Farm Ditch improvements/public use

    • August 2021: review legal pros/cons and identify options

  • Stormwater detention property availability

    • April 2022: identify available properties

  • Bond proposal and election in 2022: direction and preparation

    • December 2021: complete preliminary engineering for major projects

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly said a pedestrian/bicycle pathway was being contemplated that would link Holcombe Boulevard to Bissonnet Street. No such contemplation is under consideration.