NORTH SHORE – Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman visited with the Rotary Club of North Shore on Sept. 12th, 2013. Morman has been active in meeting his constituents in their neighborhoods since taking office.
The commissioner was accompanied by a number of his staff, who were available to answer questions and follow up on citizen concerns. He introduced two new staff members, Tammy Fuselier, Chief Financial Officer, and Jeremy Phillips, the new road and bridge engineer, replacing the retiring Jack Rodriguez.
Morman covered the projects in his area that were of interest to the Rotarians, but he started by reviewing the recent court decision that confirmed redistricting boundaries similar to the ones used in the last election. He pointed out that now his precinct was unified, with no neighborhoods split with another precinct, such as Crosby or Highlands might have been.
The major project about to start is a “walk” bridge, connecting North Shore Rotary Pavilion with the Fonteno Park to the south, allowing a longer walking trail and a unified park experience.
He said that Freeport Street was about to be rebuilt and widened, costing $15 million. Also, Jacinto Port will have a lane added.
A study is underway for Federal Road, to see if it can be grade separated over the railroad, but this is a very expensive $25 million project, without funding currently, he said.
The Better Streets 2 Neighborhoods Initiative, undertaken with Rodriguez, will rebuild and repave many of the older streets in Channelview in the next 90 days, he said. He also mentioned a new program that will be starting, “Safer Streets to Schools” which will provide sidewalks and improved road turning lanes for childrens’ safety.
Morman said that transportation infrastructure will have major expenditures, including a possible new or expanded ship channel bridge on Beltway 8 East, a widening of the Beltway, and a widening of Highway 146 near the port.
There was quite a bit of discussion on the Astrodome, and Morman pointed out that the issue will be on the November ballot, and will ask for a tax increase to repurpose the structure. Morman’s position is that it is too much money, and he opposes the ballot issue and saving the dome.
In regard to the ship channel and the port, which are in his precinct, he noted that the 45’ depth of the channel will eventually have to be deepened to 50’ to handle the larger ships that will be moving through the modified Panama Canal next year. He noted that even the 45’ depth is not true, as much of the ship channel is only 40’ deep due to silt.
Precinct 2 now has 380 employees, he said, and a budget of $33 million this year. When he first took office, the budge had been $42 million, but the county did not have the money and he reduced that to $30 million. He has gradually build the budget back, with more revenue, and added projects and services that had been cut.