Presented to the City Council September 17, 2018

Why Did We Have to Buy Jersey Crossing?

Dear Mayor and City Council,

Thank you for this opportunity to present this information to the City Council this evening. I have been reading Dr. Brene Brown’s book called Braving the Wilderness. She is a well known social worker who happens to reside in the Houston area and is a professor at the University of Houston. She had a chapter on Bullshit. She quoted another professor who has studied the topic of Bullshit. This is an excerpt from the book On Bullshit by Professor Harry G. Frankfurt published in 2005. He notes that:

Someone who lies and someone who tells the truth are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game. Each responds to the facts as he understands them, although the response of the one is guided by the authority of the truth, while the response of the other defies that authority and refuses to meet its demands. The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and opposes himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

You recently sent a letter to the residents of Jersey Village to help explain why the Jersey Village City Council needed to purchase the area known as Jersey Crossing for $5.2 million dollars, paid for by the citizens’ hard earned tax dollars, when the HCAD assessment was only $2.8 million. That amount of money did not include the real estate fees.

There are several statements which I do not agree with, or I have a different interpretation of the information. I also want to remind the Mayor that some of the statements in the letter are your opinion. In other words they are biased statements in your favor.

First, it is my understanding that there is no longer a plan for a commuter rail stop at Jersey Village. The information that you provided is misleading to the citizens because you talked a lot about the commuter rail stop helping with property values. If we aren’t going to have a commuter rail stop and probably not a rail line for many, many years, if ever, how would this be vital to the citizens of Jersey Village and their property values, now?

In my opinion, we want the car lots, warehouses and industrial locations to be located exactly in the area I now think of as Jersey Crossing due to the years of hazardous chemicals being in the ground. In addition, I am concerned that the air may be polluted, too.

I requested from the city government information about the reports which included the environmental impact study, hazardous chemicals study, OSHA violations, and EPA violations. Apparently, there were no studies done prior to you and the City Council deciding to buy that property.

It seems to me that you didn’t do your due diligence before agreeing to buy this property in a lawsuit that the city lost. My understanding is that the JV Planning and Zoning committee decided to rezone the property and the developers could no longer develop the land the way they had planned. That is why they sued the city and won the lawsuit. Unfortunately, that lawsuit has opened up a whole can of worms and exposed some very serious problems.

For one thing, it showed the citizens that you had to have a special meeting that I think of as a secret meeting. The special/secret meeting was posted on a bulletin board at City hall on Friday, August 2nd at 1:30. It seems to me that this posting of the special/secret meeting resembles those Washington DC tricks where everything gets posted on Friday when everyone is on their way home. As I have said before, this seems like a big problem, because no one knows about the special/secret meeting because they didn’t know it was posted on the City Hall bulletin board or the City website. I am not in the habit of checking the City website for an official notice of a meeting I didn’t know was coming up. I didn’t even know we had a City bulletin board. Where is the City bulletin board?

Secondly, it is my belief that the citizens of Jersey Village would not desire any multi-use area with restaurants that would be built on contaminated soil which I very strongly believe will be the case after the studies are completed. Also, there will be constant flooding if you review the topographical maps which I have seen. In addition, there is a problem with the railroad tracks preventing easy access to these restaurants. Please do not forget that there won’t be a commuter rail stop anytime soon. Maybe never.

Don’t forget that you had a year to bring all of this to the citizens for a vote. Right now, I believe you didn’t ever want to do that as it probably wouldn’t have passed if the citizens had a clear understanding of any and all of this.

I have a hunch that no developer, especially now that the developers won the lawsuit as I firmly believe they should have, wants to develop this property. I believe the developers have gone on by to other places up 290. I believe that the development of this property should be left alone.

To make matters worse I spoke to some non-residents who work near the Jersey Village area and wanted me to mention to City Council that the ditches around Jones fill up with water during heavy rains which the Gulf Coast area is prone to doing. It seems to me that it would be in the best interest of our community to spend money fixing those ditches, and not spending our hard earned taxpayer dollars on a property that has most likely been contaminated with hazardous chemicals. To be honest I wouldn’t be willing to eat at a restaurant that is sitting over contaminated soil. I imagine others wouldn’t either if they had a clear understanding of the health risks to their families just like there are health risks for their dogs with the proposed dog park by contamination of other dogs.

Please keep in mind that the residents do not have a clear understanding of the cost to them personally for the Jersey Meadow Golf Course. They don’t understand that it lost almost $600,000 last year and $3, 400,000 over 10 years. That number does not include the debt service. Please do not talk about depreciation. Please consider conducting a feasibility study for the new golf course club house. It can be financed out of the Hotel Occupancy Tax.

Just a side note. When I have mentioned this problem to non-residents about our situation with this property, they always comment or ask about kickbacks, or maybe there are political favors of some kind. I tell them I don’t know.

Merrilee Beazley