Township Election- Beware of False Prophets

By: Mike Bass
| Published 10/14/2015


I do not normally weigh in on elections pertaining to Boards on which I serve. But as I hear all the misinformation and uninformed assertions being spouted during this election, especially by the Texas Patriots (TPP) slate of candidates (McMullan, Burton and Fillault), I can no longer contain myself.

I am also appalled by the character assignations and personal attacks being levied against candidates and our Board in general. This “trash talking” should sicken us all. The people of our community deserve better. I, and my fellow Directors, devote a great deal of time and effort to serving our residents and Mr. Mitchell’s vision. We serve for no perks, special favors or compensation. Why would anyone want to be elected to your Board when they are subject to such abuse? It is fine to debate the issues but we should not tolerate the personal attacks.

Mr. Mitchell’s plan (1972) for The Woodlands called for the development of transportation systems which would provide us with a wide range of transportation options (pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths and an intra-community mass transit system) to allow us to move within our Villages and the Town Center commercial area. The plan also called for the dedication of sufficient road right of ways to accommodate growth in the future. And “Yes,” the Town Center commercial area was always part of his plan.

The Township Ad Hoc Transportation Committee (Jeff Long, Bruce Tough and I) has worked diligently over the last three years to find solutions to our growing congestion problems. For those who say we need to lobby more with our County leaders to effect mobility solutions, I would say “What do you think we have been doing?” Was not the recently completed South County Mobility Study a result of such cooperation? But talk does not always result in the desired end result. Did the County talk to the Township about our suggestions regarding the new Road Bond? No! The County took all their guidance from a special interest group, TPP. Where was the transparency?

??Laura Fillaut now says she “will hold her nose and support this Bond” having first objected to the lack of transparency. Is there any integrity in flip flopping on such a critical element of good government? Laura says we should “take a long term perspective and focus on documented problems not a hodge–podge wish list.” I suggest she look at all the data and analysis compiled by Brown and Gay, the traffic engineers who performed the South County Mobility Plan. We have more than enough information covering the next 5 years, as well as the next 20 years. We do not need more studies. No, we need to turn these studies into real plans, plans that make greater use of the federal/state money available to our region. We need candidates who have truly educated themselves on the results of all these studies and have informed ideas of how to move forward with real solutions. For example, Laura said recently the new Bond is needed to fund the expansion of Gosling and Kuykendahl. If she had done her homework, she would know the bulk of the Gosling funding will come from the Harris County proposed Bond (Harris County only expects Montgomery County to fund $900,000) and that Kuykendahl is already funded and preparing to go into construction.

When the entities involved in the South County Mobility Study refused to consider any alternative mobility solutions other than road expansion, The Township Board unanimously agreed to help fund a $400,000 Transit Study lead by HGAC and Steer Davies Gleave. This study was completed in March 2015. The Ad Hoc Transportation Committee has been working to digest their recommendations and recommend to the Board how to move forward. Seldom can such recommendations be implemented without further analysis and evaluation. Now we are faced with a minority of the Board, including Director McMullan, who wants to do nothing and just put the study on the shelf. We have repeatedly asked for their suggestions and ideas. Instead they have opposed every proposal, even how we might better serve our transportation disadvantaged (the elderly, the disabled, students, single parents, etc.). It is easy to be an obstructionist. It is harder to find common ground around real solutions as we have attempted to do.

Director McMullan calls the Town Center Transit Plan, which is based on a “park once (in our Transit Garage) and ride” strategy, as unproven and expensive. The proposed plan is based on sound operational principles that have proven successful in many other communities. The plan was further validated by our 2014 Holiday Express pilot program where small buses carried over 13,000 people throughout the Town Center. A third of these riders were residents. These riders only waited 8-10 minutes between buses compared to the 20-30 minutes of the existing Trolley System.

We are also very frugal with our limited transportation dollars. For example,

• The Woodlands Express is funded 100% from ridership fees and FTA grants. This is very important as about 40% of our riders do not live in The Woodlands. It would be unfair for our taxpayers to subsidize their transportation.

• Director Mc Mullen has said he voted down a shuttle to Exxon/ Mobile. Not sure how this could have been the case as no such proposal has ever been made. Right now our Woodlands Express buses come back from Houston empty for which we have to pay. We are only investigating the feasibility of filling these buses with reverse commute riders as a way of earning more ridership income to offset our cost. Here again, anything involving Woodlands Express must pay for itself.

• The proposed Transit Garage would cost as little as $1.6 million, net of FTA/HGAC It is time to stop the personal attacks on Bruce. Look at his record and make up you own mind if he deserves to be in office or not and don't let special interest groups tell you how to vote. The trash talking personal attacks on candidates that are running against each other makes me sick. The people of our community deserve better. We are better than this and I would like all candidates & their supporters to take the pledge to run on their visions for our community and stop the back stabbing politics.grants. This is a far cry from the $7 million cost Director McMullan is touting. Our share of this cost was set aside by the Board in 2013. It is still sitting there. Director McMullan says we do not need more parking in the Town Center and the newly proposed Mall Garage will provide the needed parking. When Nordstrom opened, did their garage add any new parking? Do you believe the Mall is going to let you park in their garage and take a shuttle bus to Market Street?

All three of the TTP candidates say they support incorporation sooner than later. In their opinion incorporation would provide more control, especially over our roads. They do not tell you that incorporation would also bring more government regulation and much higher cost, along with diminished flexibility over how we use our existing revenue. Have they told you that we will bear this cost with no reduction in our County taxes? They also propose to take your current tax dollars to build up incorporation slush funds for something that is needed for many years. Why are we not using such funds to pay down debt which would have a real tax savings for our tax payers? Why incorporate until we forced to do so? Houston cannot annex us until after November 2057.

Do not believe everything you hear. I encourage you to do your homework. Vote for the most knowledgeable and committed candidate, those that will spend the time this job requires. The future of our community depends on the choices you make; this election is a pivotal one.

Mike Bass, The Woodlands

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