Well, the day has finally arrived. I am sad to say that this will be our last official edition of the District Journal. As you know by now, my term as City Council Member for District J will come to a conclusion on the last day of December. Though I was originally scheduled to serve up to six years, the 2015 Term Limits Charter change allowed me to serve an extra two years. I am grateful for those two years. I needed the extra time to fight a few more battles for the district.
It has been the honor of my life-time to serve as your District Council Member. As the first Council Member for the newly created District J. I have worked hard to lay a strong foundation for current and future area growth. I trust that we – the District J team – are leaving District J stronger and more prosperous. Each of you have been active participants in helping me and the District J staff serve you. You have welcomed us into your neighborhoods, your homes, your businesses, your houses of worship and your schools. Together we have worked to: address immediate pressing constituent service issues; correct long term challenges and plan for future needs and opportunities. We have introduced neighboring communities to each other and have helped them work together.
The central focus of our work during these past eight years has been to protect and promote our neighborhoods. In short it has been to build a stronger District J. Toward that end I am grateful that under Mayor Parker’s administration City Council created the Council District Service Fund. In addition to using budgeted and re-directed Capital Improvements monies, the CDSF dollars have been used to:
- Build the “The Station” Skate Park at Burnett-Bayland Park;
- Add a playscape to Forum Park;
- Provide foundational funding for a Master Plan for Anderson Park;
- Design and move towards construction of a improvements to Sharpstown Green Park, and;
- Plan for a new playscape, walking trail and “Park House” gathering space at Rasmus Park.
Its dollars have helped our neighborhoods re-build side-walks and handicap ramps, add street lighting, expand hike & bike trails, fix curbs, provide Houston Police Department over-time pay to address crime hot spots and to remove over 8,000 abandoned shopping carts from our streets and waterways. All of these improvements are the result of requests taken directly from the community.
We have been blessed to have great working partners in the Board and volunteers of Sharpstown TIRZ No. 20; the now expanded St. George’s Place TIRZ No. 1; and the Southwest, Alief and Braes Oaks Management Districts. With their help we have leveraged $9 Million of Sharpstown TIRZ dollars for:
- The completed walking trail in Crain Park;
- The completed water splash-pad in Lansdale Park;
- The completed family swimming pool, playscape, sidewalks and picnic areas in Sharpstown Park;
- The budgeting of funds for a construction of a new Pro-Shop and Learning Center for Lee LeClear Tennis Center;
- The development of a Sharpstown walking trail along the Centerpoint easement on Gessner, and;
- Future front of the house improvements at the Sharpstown Golf Course.
The St. George’s Place TIRZ is now undertaking a complete rebuild of Star, Schumacher and Bering streets which will include curbs, gutters and sidewalks. They have undertaken an innovative study to propose an area-wide massive underground water detention/drainage pipeline to address flooding. In so doing they also have re-considered an entire Anderson park water detention proposal and have pledged to work with the Friends of Anderson Park to develop a master plan for that park. The supplemental crime prevention, area wide clean up and graffiti abatement work and community improvements provided by our area management districts have been crucial to the revitalization of our area. I am grateful for the continued good work of our Alief, Braes Oaks, Braeburn and Gulfton Super Neighborhoods Councils. I am hopeful for the promise of future improvements arising from the Gulfton and Alief/Westwood Complete Communities planning process.
Of course, none of this work could have taken place without the dedicated service of your District J staff. I am – and will be — eternally grateful for the wisdom, patience, good humor, creativity and hard work of: Jeremy Brown (now Justice of the Peace, Pct. 7, Place 1), Sharon Shanahan, Matt Brollier, Leah Olive-Nishioka, Ahmad Chugtai, Jonny Flores, Eric Widaski, Dave Bonem, Jeremy Harris, Sal Rueda and Josie DeLeon. They have served the people of District J with honor and distinction. I could not be more proud to be affiliated with these fine public servants.
The new year will bring new changes to my professional career. For the past 23 years I have been privileged to serve as a a real estate attorney with the law firm of Williams, Birnberg & Andersen, LLP. I am deeply grateful for their encouragement and support over these past two decades. I am excited about being able to further my public sector service through the practice of law. I am honored to be joining the Harris County Attorney’s Office. I am grateful to County Attorney Vince Ryan and the committed work that the attorneys of that office have provided in helping Southwest Houston combat blight and human trafficking.
Congratulations to Council Member-Elect Ed Pollard for winning the District J runoff election. I know he will be passionate in his service to the people of District J. Thanks also to Sandra Rodriguez and all the other candidates who stood for election. Each of them represent the best of District J.
Finally, allow me to again thank you for the privilege of being able to serve the good people of District J. We are a community of hard working, fair minded, decent neighbors. I believe with all my heart that together we can continue to build an even brighter future for our families, homes and businesses.
I pray God’s greatest blessings to you and yours…
Council Member Mike Laster
Your District J Office…
…has been busy these past 8 years! In addition to fielding thousands of constituent service calls, below you will find a list of some (but not all) of our accomplishments:
- Demolition of Winfield One Condominiums
- Beechnut/Gessner reinstallation of left-turn turning signals
- HAWK Crosswalk constructed on High Star
- Convened the Southwest Faith Alliance
- Lansdale Park—New splash pad and pavilion constructed (pictured above)
- Burnett Bayland Park—“The Station” Skatepark constructed
- Crain Park—Walking trail and entrance promenade constructed
- Early expansion of single stream recycling in Sharpstown (Big Green Bins!)
- Re-establishment of the Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council
- Sharpstown water line replacement projects completed
- Bellaire Blvd. reconstruction and improvements completed
- Lee LeClear Tennis Center rehabilitation (lighting, courts, parking lot, upcoming improvements to pro-shop)
- Fondren Rd. Reconstruction completed
- Sharpstown Country Clubs Estates East brick privacy wall reconstructed
- Osage and Bintliff Ditch ramp construction for improved off-road ditch maintenance
- Assisted in the reconstruction of Wisdom (Unity Dr. diversion) and Sharpstown High Schools
- Championed the Richmond corridor Urban Land Institute study and subsequent expansion of St. George Place TIRZ 1
- SER-Ninos Charter School children’s library constructed and opened to the public (pictured above)
- METRO bus routes re-imagined to include more convenient District J route pickup and drop-off options
- Bissonnet and Sharpstown HPD overtime and prostitution effort undertaken through Council District Service Fund (CDSF)
- Shenandoah Speed Cushions installed through CDSF
- Braeburn Glen Traffic Diverter installed through CDSF
- Social Services Corridor Speed Cushions installed through CDSF
- Sharpstown Sec. 3 Speed Cushions installed through CDSF
- Sidewalk and ADA ramp improvements through CDSF
- Sharpstown ADA ramps and sidewalk repairs through CDSF
- Shenandoah (Renwick) sidewalk repair through CDSF
- Wilcrest Dr. Sidewalk repair through CDSF
- Braeburn Glen Sidewalks and ADA ramps through CDSF
- Greenridge Dr. sidewalk construction through CDSF
- Braeburn Valley West ADA ramp improvements through CDSF
- Bonham Acres/Braeburn Valley Speed Cushion installation
- Sharpstown Park—Construction of new swimming pool and improvements in park (pictured above)
- Gulfton (Rampart) storm drain and street reconstruction
- Renovation of Fire Station 68
- CASE for Kids funding for District J non-profit after school programs
- Bellerive Senior Living community garden created
- Mahatma Gandhi Memorial installed on Hillcroft
- Enforced numerous commercial deed restriction violations; shutting down sheetrock businesses, auto repair businesses, garage sales, etc.
- HBU “380 Development Agreement” and revitalization of the commercial corner of Fondren and I-69 ($160 million)
- Implemented a dumpster cleanup plan for the area behind 99 Cent Only store in Gulfton
- Implementation of abandoned shopping cart pilot programs resulting in over 8000 carts being removed from streets and water ways
- Expansion of Sharpstown TIRZ to include Harwin, Social Service corridor, Braeburn Glen Park and Ruffino landfill area and the de-annexation of Sharpstown Sec. 2
- Creation of Madres del Parque (Mothers of the Park) community organization at Burnett Bayland Park and beginning of voluntary cleanup programs (pictured above)
- SWAT (Stormwater Action Team) Program to fix the stormwater outfall at 9238 Tooley
- SWAT repair of Roos and Hillcroft localized flooding
- SWAT project to regrade Bonham Acres roadside ditches
- SWAT project being designed to address Braeburn Valley flooding
- TIRZ and City of Houston SWAT to rebuild Schumacher/Star Lane with curbs and gutters
- Successful Super Bowl HPD coordination without traffic or nightclub complaints/problems in SW Houston
- Successfully moved and advocated for continued existence and relocation of HPD Police Gulfton Storefront
- Demolition of the long abandoned house at 9014 Roos (pictured above)
- Closure of numerous nuisance nightclubs such as V-Live, Club Envy, Avani Lounge, Carnaval and Club Fetish
- 200 trees planted at Burnett Bayland Park
- Ongoing injunction to clean up car wash at Bissonnet/Cadawac
- Demolition of 7015 Bellaire (burned down house)
- Coordinated with TxDOT and SWMD to get consistent cleaning of I-69 underpasses
- Enforced tree cutting violations at ALDI and on Rampart (Villa Feliz Apts.), got replacement trees planted
- Creation of Sharpstown Parks Alliance (SPA)
- Successfully imposed limits and security requirements on Prime Daiquiri
- Collaboration with Bering’s Hardware and Michael Roa to deliver BBQ grill to Station 28 (pictured above)
- Installed a memorial Plaque at Burnett Bayland Park honoring “AJ Street”
- Harvey recovery efforts including coordination with non-profits and churches to bring assistance and resources to flooded neighborhoods and residents; coordinated debris pickups
- Extended median curb at Renwick and Clarewood to prevent accidents in Shenandoah
- New traffic signs (No Thru Signs, speed limit signs) installed in Bonham Acres, Sharpstown, Shenandoah, etc.
- City/Harris County Flood Control purchase of Boardwalk Apartments on 9100 Fondren@Braeswood for flood detention and park purposes
- Consistent cleanout of Bintliff and Osage flood control ditches
- Plans for the construction of Rasmus Park “Heritage House:” CDSF funded project; pro bono architecture work by HoK; community engagement around the project
- Rasmus Park walking trail, new playground under construction
- Anderson Park: Implementation of master plan; creation of “Friends of Anderson Park” advocacy organization