By Lawanda Maxwell, MBA
To gain insight on the plans for Harris County Precinct 3, the West Houston Association hosted a discussion with the recently elected, Commissioner Tom Ramsey on February 11. The discussion, moderated by Paul Lock, Vice Chair of the WHA Government Affairs Committee, focused on Ramsey’s priorities for the precinct in the coming year.
Ramsey began by outlining several issues he was currently focused on, including crime reduction, getting kids back to school and people back to work, and bringing more jobs to the area before discussing bond issues and infrastructure programs. “I love bond issues because it gives the voter an opportunity to participate”, said Ramsey who supports using bonds to tackle big infrastructure programs, including those pertaining to parks and roads.
He also expressed a need for more streamlined coordination between cities and the county on projects. In Ramsey’s view, there are many area groups with vision, experience, and talent, all ready to be called to action. “They’ve got trails planned, they’ve got drainage programs planned, a lot of different things that are out there,” he said. “These aren’t generic. These aren’t philosophical.” They are practical solutions to current problems in the region. “These folks have reached out, I am listening, I’m identifying those things that we can do – because we can do a lot more than what we’ve been doing on infrastructure.”
As a former civil engineer, Ramsey expressed a strong opinion concerning the recent Army Corps of Engineers report on Buffalo Bayou, saying that it “might be the worst engineering report I’ve read in my 45 years of engineering”. He also dismissed an alternate recommendation by the Corps to build a third reservoir, stressing the fact that “a bucket of dirt out of Addicks and Barker [reservoirs] is a bucket of water out of somebody’s house out there in Buffalo.” The last area reservoir was built around 1970 when environmental rules and permitting did not include the stringent standards that are in place today. In his view, there are several quick projects the Corps could undertake that could help mitigate the flood risk for thousands of homes, a plan that wouldn’t take 25 years, but instead about 25 days.
When asked how the West Houston Association could support his efforts, Ramsey asked the association to support projects like the I-45 expansion, the dredging of the reservoirs, and “getting Houston and Harris County on the same page” on infrastructure. In an encouraging way, he said to “continue to advocate.”