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Jim Guidry Commentaries
Harris County
Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors
by Jim Guidry
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Houston-Galveston Area Council Executive Director Jack Steele today told the H-GAC Board of Directors that there has been some movement in the next phase of the Community Development Block Grant Hurricane Recovery Program.
Listen: RealPlayer  MP3

“All of your staff professionals are now aware that the deadline for receipt of non-housing projects is the first of October, and for housing projects the first of November, for receipt of those proposals in the state to begin the detailed analysis,” Steele said.  “That’s good news because it means that things are moving forward.”

Steele said some areas are not moving so quickly.

“There are still some unresolved issues with objections by the housing advocates,” he reported.  “The major state agencies held a meeting here last week to continue working on that.”

Steele said he believes the negotiations are down to some minor technical points that he expects to be resolved soon.

The board authorized staff to negotiate contracts with Aetna for medical insurance benefits, Assurant for employee dental insurance benefits and Assurant for life and disability insurance.

The board authorized staff to negotiate a contract with Byrd Construction for renovations on the fourth floor of the building at 3555 Timmons Lane that houses the H-GAC, at a cost not to exceed $245,270.

The board authorized the purchase of Herman Miller Modular furniture for the fourth floor, at a cost not to exceed $350,000.

The board authorized staff to negotiate a consultant contract not to exceed $850,000 to begin the process toward development of the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan for the Houston-Galveston Region. Listen: RealPlayer  MP3

“Five firms responded to our request for proposals,” said Transportation Planning Director Alan Clark.  “We had two of them selected as finalists.”

Teams led by Parsons Brinckeroff and Wilbur Smith Associates are the finalists.

“Although we’ve had, I think, very successful transportation plan development in the past, we wanted to take it to a higher level, particularly as we address some of the new emerging issues concerning livability,” Clark said.  “We're turning to the common themes of trying to address congestion in our region, but also access and mobility, particularly as many of you are in communities looking to start the first transit services in your community of a fixed-route nature; and we see this as an emerging trend across our area.”

“I do want to compliment you on how well you worked with the Manville-Alvin-Santa Fe Area on your access management study,” said Manville Mayor Delores Martin to Clark. “You went 400 percent to work with the citizens to help them understand what you were doing and why you were doing it and how it was benefiting them.”   

All other agenda items were approved.  All votes were unanimous with Walker County commissioners B.J. Gaines, Jr. and Glenn Beckendorff; Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski; Huntsville Mayor James Turner; and La Porte Council Member Chuck Engleken, Jr. absent.  Texas City City Commissioner Dee Ann Haney was also absent but Commissioner Rick Wilkenfeld, the alternate member from Texas City was in attendance and voted in Haney’s place.  






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