January is almost complete and it’s been a busy and productive month to kick off an exciting year at Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition. Changes are underway; some we can tell you about and others will be a surprise. We’ve started scheduling bayou projects, have a fun new committee and a couple of fabulous events coming up soon. If you’ve been looking for a way to get involved with us but haven’t yet now is the time!
I mentioned in my last blog that for the first time in our organization’s history we will have a new Chair of the Board. On January 15th our board elected Reginald Lillie to lead us. Reginald is a native Houstonian, a long-time independent insurance broker, and a leader for a diverse group of organizations. Most recently he served as President of the Houston branch of the NAACP. He serves on the board of trustees for Methodist Willowbrook and is a past chair of the CyFair Houston Chamber of Commerce. Reginald has been especially active on our Public Policy Committee and instrumental in the policy decisions and milestones that we have met. On behalf of his fellow board members and The Coalition staff we say “Welcome, Reginald”!
At the January 15th board meeting our board passed several resolutions and this letter of support for the Federal Project on Greens Bayou that has been sent to the Assistant Secretary of the Army-Civil Works Jo Ellen Darcy. The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress at the end of 2014 to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year includes provisions for new start flood mitigation construction projects. The Greens Bayou project meets the requirements to compete for funding and, as evidenced by our fall advocacy campaign, has strong community support. The project could be constructed in under two years providing significant flood mitigation benefit to Greens Bayou residents.
Our board also passed a resolution supporting “Truth in Budgeting” for Texas Parks & Wildlife. In 2007 businesses and citizens of Texas supported a “self-tax” on all sporting goods to fund Texas Parks & Wildlife. So, for instance any time you buy a hunting or fishing license that tax is designated for TPWD. However, a tax code provision was inserted in the bill so that funding is still appropriated each biennium by the legislature. Only about 33.5% of all the sporting goods sales tax collections have been provided to our state parks system. This funding also impacts many local grants programs. The Coalition and other organizations rely on TPWD grant funds to help with park development and programming.
Our Public Policy committee will be traveling to Austin on January 28th to be part of the Texas Recreation and Parks Society’s Lobby Day to advocate for this sporting good sales tax to be constitutionally designated for TPWD. If this is something that is important to you, contact your state representative and let them know.
And, finally, the exciting new committee I mentioned at the beginning of the blog. Our Paddle Trail Strategic Plan is complete and we are ready to begin implementation. This is a big project, spanning 27.5 miles with an estimated cost of $2.6 million. Our Paddle Trail Committee began meeting in January and one of the committee’s goals is to hold a regatta on Greens Bayou in 2016. If this is something you want to get involved in let us know! And if you’d like a “sneak peek” of the paddle trail which will be officially unveiled at our March 23rd Annual Meeting come out to St. Arnold Brewery from 6-9 pm on February 23rd. We’ll celebrate the hard work of our Strategic Plan Advisory Committee and talk about how you can get involved! Tickets and sponsorships are available.