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  April 11, 2013

Four Items of Importance for Houstonians

Memorial Park Improvements and Post Oak Rapid Transit Construction

Mayor Annise Parker has announced details for a plan that will provide funding for Memorial Park improvements and construction of a mass transit corridor on Post Oak Boulevard. The plan relies on City Council approval of the extension of the boundaries of the Uptown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) #16, which currently encompasses the Galleria and surrounding area.

The Memorial Park improvements project will first focus on the creation of an updated master plan that is expected to include site remediation, erosion control, removal of invasive non-native plants, the reestablishment of native grasslands and forests and facility needs. The purpose of the improvements is to repair the devastation left by the drought and return the park to its former beauty ensuring that future Houstonians will have a healthy natural park to enjoy.

Uptown Rail Rendering

The transit improvements include the widening of Post Oak Boulevard to allow for construction of bus rapid transit lanes within the median while still preserving six lanes of automobile traffic. The proposed TIRZ expansion calls for annexing 1,768 acres of land into the TIRZ. This additional land consists primarily of public rights-of-way, public parklands and bayou waterways. Of the total acreage suggested to be added to the zone, only 36.42 acres are currently taxable property. These are parcels designated to be the site of METRO’s future Westpark Transit Terminal.

The estimated cost of the park and transit projects is $556 million over a 25-year period. The funding would come from revenues generated as a result of incremental growth in property values within the TIRZ boundaries.

City Council has scheduled an April 24, 2013, public hearing on the TIRZ expansion and amended project plan at 9 a.m., Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in the City Council chamber, 901 Bagby, second floor, Houston 77002. For questions email

Houston's First Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Zepeda

Gwendolyn ZepedaThe award-winning author and poet, Gwendolyn Zepeda has been selected as Houston's first Poet Laureate. Ms. Zepeda will represent Houston by creating excitement about poetry through outreach, programs, teaching and written work. She will receive an annual honorarium of $5,000 through the City's Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance and serve a term of two years, April 2013 through April 2015.

As Poet Laureate, Ms. Zepeda is committed to developing a community outreach project for Houston's many diverse neighborhoods. She will conduct workshops to share her art and love of poetry and participate in community based poetry programs and will provide content to the Houston Poet Laureate Program web page and publish poetry to the website by the community members attending her workshops.

The Houston Poet Laureate Program is a partnership between the City of Houston, Houston Public Libraries, Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs,and Houston Arts Alliance. For more information about the Houston Poet Laureate Program visit,

Houston Permitting Center: Certified Green Building Tour
Free and Open to the Public

Friday, April 19, 2013
1002 Washington Avenue
Houston 77002

Small group guided tours of approximately 25 minutes each
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition, the engineer for the building will lead a tour for engineers at 11:30 a.m. and noon.

At the Permitting Center, see the extensive solar panel array and wind turbines on the roof, the Green Building Resource Center and the office of the U.S. Green Building Council Texas Gulf Coast Chapter.

Houston Permitting Center

Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2012
LEED for New Construction - Gold level

For additional information and a map, visit

Green buildings provide greater energy efficiency and save money for owners and users, and the reuse of materials is better for the environment. Ultimately, they foster a happier and healthier workplace for employees. We welcome your participation in these events and your interest and support for green building efforts across Houston. To learn more visit

For more information on City of Houston sustainability efforts, visit

CORRECTION: The City of Houston and United Way Want Residents to THRIVE!

The City of Houston Department of Neighborhoods is partnering with the United Way of Greater Houston to connect residents to the THRIVE program. Through this program, THRIVE specialists help residents find opportunities to earn more, save more and own a home, car or a small business. Also, residents who have not yet filed their tax return may qualify for free tax preparation assistance and the United Way SAVE program.

How to participate:

THRIVE connects you to a specialist who will help you achieve your financial goals. Whether that is gaining job skills, reducing expenses and consumer debt, building personal savings, or finding low-cost loans. Anyone can call the Texas/United way HELPLINE at 2-1-1 or 877.541.7905 (for video phone users) and ask for a THRIVE specialist to get started. Different programs have different eligibilities.

SAVE is a program that gives residents a 25% match for money they deposit in a savings account from their 2013 tax return. The match is provided after January 2014, for an amount between $100 - $1,000. To participate, families must earn up to $50,000 and singles must earn up to $30,000. Additionally, your tax return must be filed at a Neighborhood Tax Center and open a savings account, at that time, with Neighborhood Centers Promise Credit Union.

Free Tax Preparation for families who earn up to $70,000 and single individuals who earn up to $50,000 are eligible for free tax preparation. Call 2-1-1 or 877.541.7905 (for video phone users) or visit to find the nearest location. To request reasonable accommodations, call 877.541.7905 or 2-1-1 at least 48 hours in advance.


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Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Dave Martin • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green