Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 Lookback - The Woodlands Commentary

It's been a long year. I think you'd agree - a tough one also. My hope that 2009 will be much better but my expectation is that is will equally tough and even more challenging as we come to grips with our situational and individual roles in the new economy. Assuming a fairly dismal economic outlook here, the Woodlands Township will contemplate and plan next year's taxes and make difficult decisions whether to forgo some services or amenities in order to keep our taxes where residents can survive this economic downturn. It will also look for alternate contractors who may have more cost efficient methods to provide existing services. Cost cutting is anticipated to be quite a necessary process this year.

Demand for our homes will likely diminish, so taxes may have to be raised to compensate for lowered revenue. We face budget issues on all fronts, including the federal, state, county and township. We could be in worse shape and be part of Houston, having to help finance their budget woes. Thankfully we face only our own local issues now. Those include legislative bills to help our government get off the ground and the issues surrounding the transition to our new government in 2010. Enough of what's ahead. Let's take a look at the past for a moment.

I don't write about all issues. I choose those which are brought to my attention by readers via email or openly on the blog. Then I also perceive additional opportunities to research and write. I am just an ordinary local resident who finds interest in how things work here. Local services, amenities and government ring my bell. Like many of you,I pay taxes for them and am a stakeholder in the outcome of related decisions.

So what rang my bell this past year, and was it a worthwhile trip for me and you? I don't get a lot of feedback but enough to encourage me to continue with this blog. I do get website statistics to help see where readers' interests lie. This past year, the blog celebrated one full year of operation. What started as a simple little blog to express my interest in nature turned into a multiple topic blog site organized into nine separate blogs.

In retrospect, the entire year was a good one, full of progressive thought and opportunities to learn and share. There were many items of interest locally. I chose to bypass some very important topics but wrote about very significant ones as well. The blog topics which I did address are listed below in order of public interest as measured through the number of visitors and blog page hits.

  1. Local election - What were the issues? Who were running to be directors on the township board and what were their platforms? Who were those candidates? This will spill over to 2009 as the effectiveness of those elected and to 2010 when the board of directors of the Township changes to only seven directors.
  2. Local trees - From the day I started this website, there was an interest in identifying local native trees. We are part of the forest; even our name ties us to the tree population. There is continual demand for more information. I have regularly updated related articles to improve usability and expand the number of trees included. It all started when I discovered I had 21 unique species in my own yard. I wanted to know something about every one of them. Then we went outside to the parks and streets and began to add to the number of trees identified. This part of the blog is utilized today as a reference guide by our local school systems. It us used in the USA and Canada for various research projects. We also indexed the "identification by leaf" and added "identification by bark" this year. There is much work left to do. We intend to continue this expansion.
  3. Local automobile traffic - Main traffic arteries became increasingly worse. A series of articles from county precinct 3 were written to share what I learned when I looked into the precinct operations. My primary focus was the flow of traffic but that was expanded to other services as I discovered how it all works. There was and continues to be a significant public interest in traffic control.
  4. Local Noise Abatement - this has been a pet peeve of mine for three years now. The visitors to the shared information has shown there are many others who are also interested in this subject. We all like peace and quiet in our neighborhoods. This will continue to an active research topic and we discover how noise is changing here with the changes introduced by mobility projects.
  5. Storm threats to our community - as hurricane season approached, I decided to take a look at the threats to our community, which is significantly distant from the coast. In the event of a major storm, I wanted to know if we would face any serious issues here. I looked into wind and into water, sharing what I found with the public. Although there was not much traffic to the site at first, after a direct hit from Hurricane Ike, I saw a lot more interest. I took a look afterward at the damage and linked my previous thoughts to the outcome. Yes, wind is our major issue, and our trees were and will continue to be at risk in major storms. This series of articles is available for future reference.
  6. Death on the pond - the mystery continues to be discussed. Most people have left it as a accidental drowning, but the ideas of a neighborhood threat lingers on in some minds and residents still want to hear the conclusion of the matter. We continue to look for the closure of this tragedy.
There were several other articles and subjects which generated interest. Overall, we had almost 10,000 visits to the blog from its inception in late 2007. There is regular traffic to the site, so I try to keep adding articles. That demands a lot of my time, but I do want to keep my eyes open and ears to the ground, to share what I see and hear. I do appreciate input from readers, whether positive or negative. Life is a learning experience and constant change drives me to be a better person. So thanks to all my readers for their input and patience with the material as it has evolved. And thanks to those who have suggested topics and sought improvements in our community. Maybe we all can make a difference by showing concern and appreciation for what we have and for the contributions of others who make our American dreams come to pass. I applaud those who work for us in government and encourage them to find the best and most efficient cost solutions to sustain the quality of life here that we have come to enjoy and expect. Happy New Year to all and may 2009 be an excellent year.


LDoeTX said...

No, you are not the only one concerned about traffic noise in The Woodlands. The peace and serenity that The Woodlands has always promised and promoted will soon be non-exist under current plans. Most residents moved here to escape. I find it totally distressing The Woodlands' quality of life is being diminished by the six lane "highways" that are now being planned and implemented. Unfortunately, these super parkways, as currently envisioned, will endanger the many children and residents who utilize the schools, parks, shopping centers, soccer fields and bike trails along these roads. It seems a new visionary and updated design for traffic flow should be immediately implemented before more damage is done. A "loop" should be planned around the residential areas that would allow a continuous flow of traffic with limited stops and intersections that would meet the needs of all residents of Montgomery County. The new roads as planned will be obsolete in five years. The flyover at 242 going west will only dump more traffic onto a road that already has too many traffic lights and intersections. Dropping 242 below the existing intersections, such as that being done at 1960 and Kuykendal, would ensure a continuous flow of traffic. Do you have any ideas on how to constructively approach the problem and made our concerns be known? I am sure we are not the only two with these concerns.

indianspringsguy said...

LDoe - let's talk. Please email me at and we can set up a discussion. I am very interested in changing direction and doing something similar to what you have stated. I suspect it is too late but perhaps there is something we can come up with. Anyone else interested in this should also chime into the discussion.