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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