The Rumble Part II
Heights Walmart heats up: Mayor Annise Parker won't defend the project, notes she's no SuperCenter shopper
Traffic was one major concern at the public meeting Mayor Annise Parker held on the Heights Walmart plans Wednesday night at the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice on Dickinson Street. But in the second public meeting in eight days addressing concerns over the Walmart-Ainbinder Company development, the city’s proposed 380 Agreement with the developers took center stage.
The 380 Agreement is a statewide compensation program, which would reimburse the developer building the Walmart (Ainbinder) up to $6 million through city tax money for infrastructure such as widening roads and increasing drainage.
People in the crowd kept telling Parker they do not want a Walmart at the site.
“I’m not going to defend it,” Parker said to a troubled crowd. “I don’t shop at Walmart.”
During the Q&A portion of the meeting residents kept harping on traffic. One Heights resident asked why City Council would even consider talking about the project before all of the research on traffic is done.
Jeff Weatherford, deputy director of public works at the City of Houston, said, “If we’re wrong, we’re wrong. We’ll go back and make some adjustments.”
The crowd wasn't nearly as loud or as organized as the red-clad group that filled a large room at the George R. Brown Convention Center for the first public meeting last week, but passions still ran high. There was still an unintentional bit of color symbolism at this meeting though. The high school auditorium where the meeting was held is almost all blue — from the seats to the curtains on stage. Of course, blue is the color most associated with Walmart.
Only city officials were on the stage at this meeting with no official representatives from Ainbinder or Walmart present like they were at last week's George R. Brown affair.
A Heights resident spoke out about an apartment building that would have to be demolished for the Koehler Street extension onto Yale that the SuperCenter would need.
“Those people are going to be evicted in the next 90 days and are now seeking legal help,” Heights resident Anne Marie said.
The mayor expects the Walmart development to reach City Council’s agenda as early as Sept. 15.