Last night was the final open house by Metro on the route for the Universities line. I don’t think anybody expected a consensus would be reached, but at least the pro-Richmond forces were acknowledged.
Supporters of a Richmond line stated their case at City Council on Tuesday and also at a Metro board meeting last Thursday.
About 150 people representing both sides of the issue mingled Tuesday night at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church downtown, where Metro displayed large, aerial photos and maps of its proposed routes as it had at previous sessions.
Opponents contend that voters approved a rail line on Westpark and not Richmond, where they say it would be disruptive.
“Everyone who wants it doesn’t live or work on Richmond, and they don’t have a stake in it,” said Daphne Scarborough, who owns a business just east of Shepherd on Richmond.
Much of the most vocal opposition to the Richmond rail has come from the Afton Oaks neighborhood that borders Richmond just inside the West Loop. But Scarborough said at the St. Paul’s meeting that a poll of 204 business owners and residents on Richmond from Main Street to Shepherd showed 200 of them oppose the Richmond line. “They say the only ones who don’t want rail on Richmond is Afton Oaks, but that’s wrong,” she said.
Tom Valega, a property owner in the Sunset Terrace/Montclair Subdivision south of Westpark said, however, that Metro can pick up more riders on Richmond, and it must show ridership to get federal funding.
At a public comment session of Houston City Council on Tuesday, architect Doug Childers, chairman of richmondrail.org, said about 1,000 residents had signed petitions in favor of the Richmond rail.
He previously had presented the petitions at the Metro board meeting Thursday, saying he represented “hundreds of residents, businesses and organizations who want neighborhood-friendly light rail on Richmond.”
No mention of any reaction to that statement by city officials, but that’s the way it goes.
Metro spokesman George Smalley said Metro staff is expected to decide by Aug. 8 what route it will recommend to the board. No date has been set for a board vote.
And that’s when the real fun will begin. Stay tuned.