PO BOX 66735 • HOUSTON, TEXAS 77266 WWW.MAMAHOUSTON.ORG
SPRING 2016 • NEWSLETTER
NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING Tuesday, June 14 Italian Cultural & Community Center 1101 Milford St.
Erik Eriksson (President) & Kathie Easterly (Executive Director) University Place Association & Houston Super Neighborhoods Wine and cheese reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by general meeting at 7 p.m.
PAGE TWO ■ Sign Up For MAMA Security ■ Prevent Car Break-Ins ■ Leave Front Porch Lights On ■ Don’t Hesitate to Call 3-1-1 ■ MAMA Membership Form
PAGE THREE ■ Security Initiative (Continued) ■ A Message From MAMA Security
■ Bell Park History
PAGE FOUR ■ Construction Update ■ Sign Up For Nextdoor- Museum District ■ Important Contacts ■ Visit MAMA 24/7 ■ MAMA 2016 Officers and Directors
Find us on Facebook /mamahouston
Although our small inner city neighborhood faces numerous challenges, security became the MAMA Board’s highest priority for 2015. Security incidents had increased by almost 50% in 2015 over 2014, including a rash of break-ins and an armed street robbery. The Board felt MAMA had to take decisive action to protect our neighborhood. As a result, in March 2016, MAMA’s dedicated security patrol by the Harris County Constable began thanks to the efforts of our Board members and the generous financial support of many neighbors. A number of articles in the newsletter address our security program and I encourage you to read them – and if you haven’t signed up for the program, please consider doing so. We still need more neighbors to participate in supporting the cost of the 2016 program so please consider joining.
At our meeting on June 14, the Board and I look forward to hearing your input on security as well as any other concerns you have regarding life in the neighborhood. We hope that you will attend and also hope that you will become a MAMA member (or renew your membership) and be a part of our neighborhood organization. Despite the challenges of living in an urban environment, I continue to believe that our neighborhood is a wonderful place to live and one of the best in Houston. Be safe!
Doug DOUG LAWING, MAMA PRESIDENT
MAMA SECURITY INITIATIVE We hope you have observed the new Harris County Constable signs at each street entrance to the MAMA neighborhood. These signs indicate that a dedicated Constable from Precinct 1 patrols our MAMA neighborhood. By now you have probably also seen their car patrolling the area. This is not a free service, and did not happen overnight. Security has always been an issue with MAMA – it was originally organized in 1980 by a group of neighbors following a series of burglaries – although the real benefit of that first meeting was to discover what a diverse and interesting group of residents lived in this non-deed restricted neighborhood. They included many original owners, young couples with modest incomes, individuals in small apartments, and quite a few students. In 1981, a special meeting on security drew 120 people. The result was that some 40 volunteers began to participate in the then police-supported “Houstonians on Watch” program. The volunteers for several years patrolled the neighborhood on a regular scheduled basis, using cars and 2-way radios to report suspicious activities to a central volunteer who contacted police when warranted. We were a modest neighborhood, tucked in between more affluent neighbors, and in general security was not a major issue except for occasional flare-ups. Relatively recent changes in the makeup of the MAMA neighborhood – town-
homes replacing apartments, conver sion of duplexes to single-family homes, and replace ment of many bungalows with new, modern homes – appears to have brought about the attention of some criminal elements, resulting in a rash of burglaries, especially during the past year. MAMA has always
been relatively free of such events, so the activity, together with serious crimes in nearby neighborhoods, set off alarm bells among the MAMA members. Special board meetings were called and options for increased security in the neighborhood were explored and evaluated, including joining Boulevard Oaks Patrol (they declined), private security services, hiring security through the Montrose Management District, and the Harris County Constable program. The Constable Patrol seemed to be the most viable and cost effective for our type of neighborhood, and approximately 25 MAMA neighbors stepped up to pledge initial financial commitments to get the program Continued on page 3
SPRING 2016 • NEWSLETTER
SIGN UP FOR MAMA SECURITY Name(s): ________________________________________________________________ Address: ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Email: ________________________________________________________________ Phone: ________________________________________________________________ Member Level:
_______ Sponsor: $1,200/year _______ General: $500/year
Although a single payment is preferred, payments can be made in two installments with the first payable immediately and the second no later than September 1, 2016. Please make your check out to MAMA and send to P.O Box 66735, Houston, Texas 77266
LEAVE FRONT PORCH LIGHTS ON
PREVENT CAR BREAK-INS
Don’t leave anything visible (sunglasses, loose change, boxes or bags) in your car. It’s just an invitation to a thief. Keep your car locked and free of anything that might tempt a thief and remember - Car break-ins happen not just to cars parked on the street but also to those parked in driveways!
PAGE 2 • SPRING 2016
Our neighborhood is dark and provides a welcome atmosphere for burglars. To supplement our limited street lighting and provide a deterrent, leave your front porch lights on through the night. With high efficiency bulbs available, there is no excuse!
DON’T HESITATE TO CALL
YOUR LINK TO CITY SERVICES If you need a connection to almost anything the City of Houston does – well, your solution may be as close as dialing 3-1-1. It’s fast. It’s easy. And most often your call gets quick results. It’s not unusual to see the 3-1-1 troubleshooting truck on the job the day after you call. Sometimes, the job may be bigger and it may take longer, but don’t wait for someone else on your block to call. It doesn’t hurt to have multiple calls on the same issue. We are all busy, but being on the watch in the neighborhood helps everyone. It’s a quick way to participate.
NEWSLETTER • SPRING 2016 SECURITY INITIATIVE Continued from page 1
started, with a number pledging $2,400 each as underwriters. A special MAMA neighborhood meeting was called February 23, 2016 to present the program to the neighborhood. Al Rosen, Houston County Constable Precinct 1, the constable for our part of Houston, presented the program to a full house, followed by Michael Hawash, chairman of the Cherryhurst Mandell Winlow security program, which had already engaged the Constable. The result was a resounding endorsement, and enough additional financial commitments from members to guarantee the program for the first year. The program began the first week of March after it was approved by Harris County. DETAILS ABOUT THE PROGRAM: The cost is $80,000 a year. We can’t expect the initial underwriters to continue to support at that high level, thus it is important that as many residents as possible commit to support the program on an ongoing basis. If you haven’t already, please consider joining as a member for $500/year or as a sponsor for $1,200/year. If enough people join, we may be able to reduce those amounts. We request full payment upon joining, or at least in two payments, one immediately and the second by September 1, 2016. Constables are certified peace officers and can ticket, arrest, and if necessary use force to deter and stop crime. While a Dedicated Constable will patrol our entire area, members have access to other areas’ Constable resources when our Con-
stable is not specifically in the neighborhood. There are significant added benefits for members: ■ The Constable can be listed as the first responder to your alarm system. ■ You will have a direct contact number to the Constable office that you can call about any incident or suspicious activity that you see. ■ You can request your house be on vacation patrol when you are out. ■ You may call for Constable assistance with any parking, traffic, or noise issues. ■ You may request a home security inspection to find vulnerabilities at your house. ■ You will receive a yard flag that warns that your home is patrolled by a Constable (many already in place), plus stickers for two cars, and two stickers with the dedicated telephone number to place on your telephone. In addition, special classes, programs and meetings are scheduled from time to time so that you can be more proactive in enhancing your safety, including self-defense/rape prevention. A form to sign up is included in this Newsletter. Please use it promptly. If you have any questions contact our Security Coordinator, email@example.com ♦
A MESSAGE FROM MAMA SECURITY COORDINATOR MAMA’s security patrol kicked off on March 1
and since that time, a Harris County Constable’s Deputy has been patrolling our neighborhood. He has met many of our residents and has gotten to know the neighborhood. A small “ Greet and Meet “ was held with the Deputy in early May in Bell Park and more of these will be held approximately every quarter. Our Deputy works approximately 40 hours fully dedicated to our neighborhood. The hours of coverage are confidential and v a ry in order to make sure no one can anticipate his on-duty and off-duty plan. Recently we learned that our current Deputy has received a new assignment so we expect to have a new dedicated Deputy in the next few weeks. Our Deputy provides a monthly summary of his activities for our area. In addition to responding to any criminal activities, he also monitors traffic, speeding, parking, vagrants or suspicious persons, vacation watches, etc. He encourages all residents to introduce themselves so he can get to know every member of our community. For example, during March, the officer drove 548 miles through our streets, responded to 2 alarm calls, performed 4 vacation watches, issued 29 citations/tickets, wrote 68 warning tickets, con-
BELL PARK HISTORY
fronted 8 suspicious persons/vehicles, had 49 citizen contacts and reported to burglaries, one bike theft, and one theft from a vehicle. During the approximately three months that the program has been in place, there has been a noticeable decline in serious crime, primarily home break-ins. However, just in the last week there have been a rash of 4-5 home break-ins in our adjacent neighborhood, Boulevard Oaks. These have all occurred at night which is unusual as historically the break ins have occurred during working hours when many homeowners are away during the day. So it’s likely this same group is also canvassing MAMA for opportunities so we can not let our guard down. The Constable program will be evaluated each month for its effectiveness and we appreciate any constructive suggestions for improvement. While this will not prevent all crime, we believe it can lead to improvements in our MAMA security, quality of life and protection of real estate values.
This statue of Christopher Columbus was donated to the City of Houston by the Federation of ItalianAmerican Organizations of Greater Houston. It stands in Bell Park and commemorates the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. Once a vacant lot, the property for Bell Park, in the heart of MAMA, was donated to the City by the Gramercy Company through C.C. Bell, who had owned it since 1946. The deed dated October 31, 1967, states that it is donated and conveyed to the City of Houston “… for the purposes of providing a retreat for reflection and thought, to promote the happiness of the people of Houston, to add to the enjoyment of those who would pause and retreat momentarily from the increasing tension of modern and future society and to express forever Donor’s appreciation to the people of Houston for helping create a climate conducive to success….” It goes on to state that it would be designated a public park permanently named Bell Park. A conceptual plan for the park was created by S.I. Morris of S.I. Morris and Associates, Architects, and construction began in 1968. The park was dedicated and opened to the public in April 1970. Its layout includes extensive landscaping and shade, and features a fountain. On October 11, 1992, the day before the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, a 7 foot bronze statue of the explorer was donated to the City by the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Greater Houston. It stands in Bell Park. In September 2013, the Houston Parks Board undertook replacing the aging irrigation system in Bell Park. At the same time, it began landscaping work, tree trimming, and repair of trees damaged in Hurricane Ike and M A M A began a regular schedule of planting and maintenance. Bell Park is located west of Montrose Boulevard between Milford St. and Banks St. in Houston’s Museum District. ♦
Mac Hoak MAMA SECURITY COORDINATOR
Source: http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/parksites/ bellpark.html SPRING 2016 • PAGE 3
SPRING 2016 • NEWSLETTER
MORE NEWS AND UPDATES ONLINE WWW.MAMAHOUSTON.ORG
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS CAMPUS REDEVELOPMENT UPDATE Since we last reported on the MFAH expansion and campus transformation plans last year, the initial phase that includes the elements that affect our neighborhood the most, are in progress with construction to be completed by the end of 2017. The new Glassell School of Art, and the Brown Foundation Plaza along Montrose Boulevard will provide welcomed active public spaces that MAMA residents can walk to and enjoy. The Glassell will front onto an open public plaza and reflecting pool connecting to the existing Sculpture Garden. The Glassell School building design incorporates a sloping, walkable green roof that rises from an outdoor amphitheater to a rooftop trellis public area. Event programs and performances will activate this amenity. A streetlevel café open to the public is also planned. THE POST OAK SCHOOL EXPANSION UPDATE The construction work for the building addition to The Post Oak School on Autrey Street is in its final stages. Substantial completion of the work is scheduled for the second week of June, with exception of on-site exterior hardscape and landscape work continuing beyond that date. This is good news for the immediate neighbors who have been affected by the necessary utility work on the street. More good news is that The Post Oak School was able to obtain a lease agreement to use the CenterPoint easement along the freeway, at the back of the property, for school parking. This should alleviate street parking and congestion, as pick-up and drop-off of students will be internal, at the rear of the site. The school occupying the easement along the freeway will provide an additional benefit of displacing illegal activities (drug use, bandit bicycle chop shop, and graffiti) that the school has witnessed in the past. There will be an open house in the fall when school reconvenes. THE CARTER HIGH RISE RESIDENTIAL BUILDING UPDATE The construction of the Carter High Rise Residential Tower in the MAMA district has topped out and is anticipated to end in the first quarter of 2017. Although major utility work in the roads has been completed, residents east of Montrose can expect moderate interruptions in the public right-of-way in the coming months. There is still work to be done on the median island and asphalt topping of sections of Chelsea Boulevard. It is important to note that construction sequence will allow for thru traffic at all times. On the median and street right-of-way, the development project will provide new landscaping, hardscape, street lighting, new sidewalks, and pavers at entry drives. The Carter is opening a marketing/leasing center in Chelsea Market this June, and residents will start moving into the tower in late August/early September this year.♦ PAGE 4 • SPRING 2016
2016 HOUSTON MUSEUM DISTRICT Garbage, Recycle & Heavy Trash Calendar
PRESIDENT Doug Lawing firstname.lastname@example.org
JUNE- Tuesdays Garbage 1 , 7, 14, 21, 28 Recycle 1, 14, 28 Heavy Trash 3 - Junk Waste
VICE PRESIDENT Rey de la Reza
JULY- Tuesdays Garbage 6, 12, 19, 26 Recycle 12, 2 6 Heavy Trash 1 - Tree Waste AUGUST- Tuesdays Garbage 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Recycle 9, 23 Heavy Trash 5 - Junk Waste
TREASURER Melissa Watson MEMBERSHIP Barbara Aksamit email@example.com
SEPTEMBER- Tuesdays Garbage 7, 13, 20, 27 Recycle 7, 20 Heavy Trash 2 - Tree Waste
COMMUNICATIONS Catherine McDonald
OCTOBER- Tuesdays Garbage 4, 11, 18, 25 Recycle 4, 18 Heavy Trash 7 - Junk Waste
LIASON, UPA Kathryn McNiel
NOVEMBER- Tuesdays Garbage 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Recycle 1, 15, 29 Heavy Trash 4 - Tree Waste DECEMBER- Tuesdays Garbage 6, 13, 20, 28 Recycle 13, 28 Heavy Trash 2 - Junk Waste
SIGN UP FOR NEXTDOORMUSEUM DISTRICT
Nextdoor Museum District is a social network for our neighborhood and provides you with a means to communicate with your neighbors in real time about security concerns and incidents. Sign up now by going to https://themuseumdistricttx.nextdoor.com
SECURITY COORDINATOR Mac Hoak
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Doug Lawing Rey de la Reza John Koval Barbara Aksamit Leslie Gerber Catherine McDonald Kathryn McNiel John Gabriel Carvel Glenn Alex Herrera Leo Golub Mac Hoak
Emergencies Only: 911 HPD Non-Emergency: (713) 884-3131 https://ehpdhoustontx.gov/citizenalert/ HPD Storefront: (713) 284-8604 or Centralpatrol1district@cityofhouston.net
MARK YOUR CALENDARS October 4, 2016 – National Night Out Yard Party December 6, 2016 Holiday Party
City of Houston Help: 311 or www.houston311.org or get the app HOUSTON 311 on your smartphone
MAMA schedules four general meetings for the neighborhood during the year, generously hosted by the Italian Cultural Center at 1101 Milford St.
Non-Emergency MAMA Security Concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration & hospitality begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the meeting at 7 p.m.