ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
86°
Broken Clouds
H 86° L 68°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    86°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 86° L 68°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    69°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 86° L 68°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day Created with Sketch.
    80°
    Afternoon
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 87° L 62°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
$150,000. Too much or little for inventory solution?
Close

$150,000. Too much or little for inventory solution?

$150,000. Too much or little for inventory solution?
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown
City Council meeting 7/24

$150,000. Too much or little for inventory solution?

They’re two opposing views that show the battle ahead despite a final vote next week.

It’s been a seven month journey since I first asked just how many of your tax dollars were tied in city-owned vacant land, only to find out the city didn’t know for itself.  Since that time I’ve chronicled the city’s attempt to fix that problem while digging deeper on the problems behind the greater issue.

The city has proposed to spend $150,000 to hire a private company to come in and comprehensively inventory and assess all the property it owns, and help determine what to do with it.  They would issue a request for proposal (RFP) for companies to bid on the project and, ideally, meet that budget.  After gaining approval through committees this week, that measure is finally up for a final full council vote Tuesday.

“Unless I get all my questions answered, I probably won’t support it Tuesday,” says Councilman John Crescimbeni.

Crescimbeni’s main concern is the scope of the project.  Through committee meetings, there has been consistent questioning on where the $150,000 figure came from, and the Department of Public Works says the city consulted a number of companies.  Those discussions appear to have been predicated on a rough estimate that the city owns about 2800 parcels of land.

Since this process began, however, I uncovered that as many as 1500 of those parcels are actually owned or partially owned by JEA, meaning the city could not act on them.

Because we’re now dealing with fewer than half the original parcels, Crescimbeni thinks the price needs to drop as well.

“It’s their property. We shouldn’t be messing around with it without their permission,” he says.

As recently as Tuesday morning, the city added language to the RFP, which I obtained, that recognizes the JEA ownership and says once land is identified as JEA-owned, nothing further would be done with it.  It does not, however, make any adjustment in the larger price cap.

The cap itself is a question for other councilmen- but some want to see a higher limit.

“That sounds like an awful lot, in a short time frame, to do the kind of detailed work that we’re requiring,” says Councilman Matt Schellenberg.

The RFP draft I obtained is 46 pages and lists, in detail, nearly 40 specific tasks that must be completed for the thousands of properties. Those tasks are divided in to four general categories- inventory, assess, allocate use, and implement action.  While this current draft of the RFP does not include many specifics on the timeline, committees were told this week the RFP would go out shortly after gaining approval then allow 30 days for responses, two weeks to deliberate those companies, and then 90-120 days to complete the work.

“If they do a shortcut, then we’re in trouble because that means we haven’t really accomplished what we wanted to do,” Schellenberg says.

He tells me he will support the bill, despite these questions, because he wants to ultimately see the solution realized.

I will be at the council meeting Tuesday to follow this final vote, and will continue to investigate this process until this vacant property gets put back to productive use instead of continuing to tie up your tax dollars.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • A Cobb County woman accused of sitting on her 2-year-old son’s head was recently indicted. The grand jury charged Susan Elizabeth Kelley of Kennesaw with first-degree child cruelty March 23. Her attorney Maddox Kilgore said Tuesday he would enter a plea of not guilty whenever Kelley has an arraignment hearing. >> Read more trending news  Kilgore represented Justin Ross Harris, a Cobb County man who was sentenced to life in prison for killing his 22-month-old son Cooper by leaving him to die in a hot car. Kilgore said that Kelley’s boy has fully recovered from the May 11 incident. According to an arrest warrant, Kelley placed a towel on a wooden dining chair, put her son’s head on the towel and then sat on him with all her body weight for about an hour. She told police she sat on her son to “gain ‘submission’ from the child,” the warrant said. The boy became unresponsive and was rushed to Egleston Hospital in Atlanta. At the time, Kelley was arrested and then released on a $55,220 bond.
  • Twelve people were killed and three others were injured Wednesday when a pickup collided head-on with a van carrying 14 senior members of a New Braunfels, Texas, church on a two-lane highway north of Uvalde, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  The crash happened 75 miles west of San Antonio, said Sgt. Conrad Hein of the Texas Department of Public Safety. It was unclear if the lone occupant of the pickup was among the dead or how many of the dead were among the 14 aboard the church van, Hein said. Information was unavailable on the extent of injuries for the other three people, who were taken to a hospital. The cause of the crash hasn’t been determined, Hein said. The collision happened at a major curve in the highway, according to the Uvalde Leader-News. That newspaper also reported that a woman said she called law enforcement about reckless driving involving one of the vehicles, but authorities didn’t arrive before the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating. The van was carrying members of First Baptist New Braunfels who were returning from the Alto Frio Baptist Camp and Conference Center in Leakey, about 9 miles north of the crash site. They had just finished a three-day retreat that included singing and Bible study. As the church learned of the crash Wednesday afternoon, it canceled its activities that evening and said the sanctuary would be open for prayer and support. A statement on the church’s Facebook page said it hadn’t received any official details from authorities, but the church was “ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy.” Counselors will be at the church Thursday to offer support, according to the Facebook post. “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family,” the Facebook post said. In a statement, Gov. Greg Abbott said he and his wife, Cecilia, extend their “deepest condolences to the victims and the families of those involved in today’s tragic event.” He said they are “saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to all those affected.”
  • For the first time in history, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX is poised to launch a recycled rocket back into Earth’s orbit — a milestone that could drastically cut the cost of traveling into space and pave the way for a new era in space travel. >> Read more trending news Musk’s private space company is scheduled to relaunch a Falcon 9 rocket — which successfully propelled the Dragon cargo ship into space in 2016 — from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, March 30. The two-and-a-half-hour launch window opens at 6:27 p.m. ET tonight and runs through 8:57 p.m. ET. >> Related: SpaceX capsule returns space station science to Earth, lands in Pacific Ocean  According to SpaceX, a “rapidly reusable space launch vehicle” could reduce the cost of traveling to space by a hundredfold in the future. The part of the rocket that is being recycled is its main body, which separates from the top part of the rocket and then barrels back to Earth, NBC News reported. So far, after 13 attempts, SpaceX has successfully returned eight rockets back to Earth. But the Falcon 9 rocket launch will be the company’s first time reusing the same booster. Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, a SpaceX rival, was the first to launch and land the same rocket twice with its New Shepard rocket in 2016.
  • Uber is teaming up with the University of Central Florida to help students get home safely after a night out on the town.  The ride share app and university are creating a “Safe Rides Zone,” which includes the entire UCF campus, and will offer cheaper fares for students. >> Read more trending news The program will give students half off an Uber ride up to $10 and then $5 off any ride that costs more than $10. Student Victoria Hehlile was glad to know the program was in place for students. “All college kids go out, so you want to get home safely,” she said. Students can use the program through the Uber app on their smartphone, thanks to a special code. The “Safe Rides” program will run through June 30 on Friday and Saturday nights. >> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here Student Josh Gonzalez was glad to see a program in place that will help get him and his classmates home safely. “We all like to party,” he said. “It’s going the extra mile to ensure that everybody has a safe, good time.”
  • A Texas school district has reversed its decision to deny a grieving family a yearbook memorial page for their daughter, who killed herself last week. Hannah Rose Hollis, a 17-year-old senior at Pearland High School, had recently celebrated her acceptance into Texas A&M University, where she would follow in her older sisters’ footsteps in the fall. The celebration turned to heartbreak for her family and friends on March 19, when Hollis committed suicide. “If she would’ve just known how much we loved her, she would’ve known it was a mistake,” Hannah’s sister, Holleigh Hollis, told KPRC 2 News in Houston.  >> Read more trending stories Hannah Hollis’ death prompted students, friends and family to request a memorial page for her in Pearland High’s yearbook. The request was denied, students said. The Hollis family told the news station the denial was based on the way Hannah Hollis died.  “This administration tells us that they won’t make this page because they think that if children see it, then it will urge them to do the same thing,” Holleigh Hollis said. “I completely disagree with that.” The denial prompted a student to create a Change.org petition, urging school administrators to change their minds. “I did not personally know Hannah, but as someone who struggled with demons of their own, I am horrified that we cannot honor one of our own because of how this beautiful soul passed,” creator Ericka Chang-Kalandros wrote in the petition.  Chang-Kalandros wrote that while Hollis’ death was a tragedy, her life was a blessing. The yearbook staff sought to “honor her beautiful life rather than romanticize her death.” “The stigmas surrounding mental illness have never been more prevalent in our school than right now,” Chang-Kalandros wrote. “Because of these stigmas, we cannot honor our fellow classmate, athlete, and, most of all, friend. Not only will this page allow her friends and family to see that we are united as a student body behind them through these difficult times, it will also bring awareness to those who suffer in silence as Hannah did.” More than 6,000 people signed the petition. Many of them gave written reasons for signing. “I’m signing, because no one deserves to go through what she went through alone,” Hannah Armstrong, of Pearland, wrote. “The school needs to show that they will help and support anyone who needs it.” “I’m signing, because, no matter the circumstances, this is a life gone too early,” wrote Diane Perthuis, of Houston. “She died of something that affects too many of our youth.” “Mental illness is a disease like any other, and millions suffer in silence because of the stigma it brings,” wrote Sharon Shotwell, of Pearland. “She should be in the yearbook and honored like anyone else.” Read all of the reasons people signed the petition here.  The school decided, in the aftermath of the petition and after meeting with Hollis’ family, to allow the memorial page. A Pearland ISD school board member, Charles Gooden Jr., wrote on his Facebook page that the district’s plan all along was to determine the wishes of the Hollis family before moving forward with any memorial. “Students were not told ‘no’ to their request to remember Hannah in the yearbook. They were asked to wait to determine the wishes of the family,” Gooden wrote. “Having dealt with the loss of my brother when he was 17, I see that as a totally reasonable request. We are just dealing with a misunderstanding. “We have now learned that the Hollis family has expressed support for a memorial page in the yearbook,” he wrote. School administrators also released a statement on Wednesday, addressing the issue. “From the beginning, Pearland High School's and Pearland ISD's intention was and has been to allow the Hollis family time to grieve. We have now had an opportunity to visit with the family to discuss how to best honor Hannah. PHS will have a remembrance page in the yearbook for any Oiler they have lost, and this will include Hannah. We will continue to provide support for all students, and have Hannah's friends and family in our thoughts and prayers.” Hollis’ obituary describes her as “one of the brightest, most talented and lovely young women anyone could have ever known.” Her family wrote that she fell in love with television cooking shows at the age of 3 and, as soon as she could read, “always had her nose in a cookbook.” Her gifts went far beyond the kitchen, her family wrote, and when she was older, she worked as a summer camp counselor, caring for the youngest campers.  “Hannah was generous with both her time and her heart, always putting others’ feelings before hers,” the obituary read.  She was a gifted student and member of the school’s varsity golf team who also worked as a lifeguard. Having earned full acceptance to Texas A&M, she planned to become an anesthesiologist, according to her obituary.  “Truly extraordinary, blessed with so many gifts, Hannah was the most amazing young woman and to know her was to know a truly beautiful soul,” the obituary read. “She will be loved and missed forever.”

The Latest News Videos