Archive for August, 2006

Culberson is not listening!

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

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The University Corridor light rail will serve all citizens that live, work, go to school or visit destinations within walking distance of a station. It will also serve all the Houstonians that connect at the Uptown, Main Street and Southeast lines. The University corridor line will be an asset for all of Houston – just like our highways and the Main Street light rail. That’s why the support in the Richmond corridor alone is overwhelming. John Culberson is using a few loud individuals as props in his ongoing campaign to kill urban transit in favor of highways to the suburbs. Meanwhile, he is not listening to the majority of voices that support and will use light rail on Richmond:

He is not listening to 30,000 member (and 21 civic associations) of Neartown Association whose constituents live all around the Richmond corridor and have advocated a Richmond alignment of the University Line

He’s not listening to the Board of the Menil Foundaton that has issued a statement of support for the mandated process and declared Westpark irrelevant. Light rail on Richmond would provide public access for the tens of thousands of visitors to the Menil every year

He is not listening to the owners of Greenway Plaza that have advocated a Richmond alignment over Westpark. Greenway plaza is home to nearly 20,000 workers and residents.

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Community meets at Ervan Chew

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

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Hundreds of residents and concerned citizens gathered at Ervan Chew park on Saturday to discuss developments in the debate over light rail on Richmond.
RichmondRail.org sponsored the event. We invited supporters and members of the Neartown neighborhood to attend. A handful (I counted 4) of citizens opposed to a Richmond alignment were present. Ervan Chew Park is located on the border of the Richwood Place and Castle Court neighborhoods and is one of the parks that could be impacted by a phony light rail alignment suggested by Representative John Culberson and Council Member Anne Clutterbuck.

Overwhelming support for Richmond alignment
Those that gathered were overwhelmingly in favor of a Richmond alignment. They talked about visiting other cities and experiencing convenient and efficient public transit systems. They talked about how Richmond is such an important commercial corridor and all the places it links – (more…)

Neartown Leaders meet with Council Members

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

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On Monday, August 7, about 50 community members gathered in a meeting organized by Council Member Ada Edwards. The meeting was called in response to the anouncement by METRO on Friday that they intended to study an alternative alignment along the North side of US 59, between Mandell and Shepherd. METRO indicated in their announcement that the alternative study had been requested by Council Member Anne Clutterbuck and Rep John Culberson. CM Anne Clutterbuck was there to explain her role in Metro’s decision. Council Member Sue Lovell and Pam Holm also spoke briefly at the meeting.

Ada Edwards began the meeting by saying that she had been blind sided by METRO’s announcement and decision to study the alternative alignment along the North side of 59. She noted initial anger at CM Clutterbuck and METRO for not communicating their plans in advance. CM Clutterbuck indicated that METRO misunderstood the
nature of her request -that she intended for them to study the option of cantilevering the line over the SW Freeway. She said that in no way was she advocating putting the line on private property or in the City Park. She apologized profusely to CM Edwards and to the community for not communicating her intentions before the METRO announcement.

According to the Chronicle on Saturday, Culberson’s proposal, would run “from Richmond in the vicinity of the University of St. Thomas to U.S. 59 (Southwest Freeway) to a transition point into the Westpark right-of-way.” The Chronicle further described how this idea was conveyed to Culberson by Ted Richardson - an Afton Oaks Resident. What is John Culberson thinking? Is there anyway to get from Richmond to 59 around St. Thomas, without barrelling through private property?

Community members at the Edwards meeting unanimously voiced their sense of betrayal, pointing out that this option had been previously discussed and removed from the table - for many reasons. Others simply said ‘no way’! CM Edwards asked for a show of hands of support for the proposed alignment; noone raised their hand. One resident asked if City Council could ask METRO to take this option ‘off the table’, again! The meeting ended with a commitment from CM Edwards to communicate with everyone as the process goes forward.

This debacle is the direct result of Congressman Culberson’s phony deadline and his intervention in a Federally mandated process. He has intervened in a local matter. His recent grandstand appearance in front of the Mobility Coalition’s anti-rail rally at James Coney Island, demonstrated that he simply does not care about mobility for Houston or what any of us want. Leadership is apparently foreign to his character.

Responding to METRO’s new study in a press release and letter to Martha Wong, the Mobility Coalition (so called) showed their true colors. They would rather the University line run through the yards, houses and parks of Castle Court and Richwood Place than on the public right of way in Afton Oaks:

“MobilityCoaliton.org and friends and neighbors of Richmond Avenue are encouraged by the latest proposal for a new light rail alignment in the University Corridor”

A few vocal zealots in Afton Oaks are pretending to speak for all of the residents in the Richmond Corridor. Please join us and let your elected officials know that you support rail in the existing right of way, where the people and businesses are. A new right of way through our homes and parks is absurd - nothing more than a political detour engineered by those who do not want rail at all. We think METRO and the community should take adequate time to explore the options, compare cost, true community impact and ridership. But we should not let a few vocal nay-sayers undermine our transit future. Neartown is 30,000 strong - let your voices be
heard!

Culberson Sticks Neck Out-Counter Rally Huge Success

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

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As we expected, John Culberson announced Tuesday that he wants Metro and Mayor White to take a Richmond option off the table. Speaking in front of his anti-rail supporters he spoke about ‘overwhelming opposition’ to a Richmond alignment - clearly ignoring our voices and the voices of thousands of others.

With less than 24 hours to mobilize, RichmondRail.org generated a phenomenal turnout and showed the Congressman and the media that his actions are an attempt to subvert a local decision and process.

As our numbers built to 40 or more, the anti-rail leaders scrambled to get hired hands to put out signs behind us. As Culberson spoke, we made it clear that support for Richmond Rail is big and getting bigger. Our voices are being heard! Even before yesterday’s successful rally, the Houston Chronicle presented a clear picture of the argument and broad based support for a Richmond alignment.

The day after the rally, the Chronicle highlighted Culberson’s poor judgment in an editorial: “Flawed judgment: Rep. Culberson’s decision to oppose all options for Richmond rail undermines transit interests of both his constituents and the entire city.”

We could not agree more!

August 1 Chronicle Article

Aug 2 Chronicle editorial