February 15, 2018
KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
by Katrina Katsarelis
This week, Nottingham neighbors noticed construction signs and large orange X marks on rows of oak trees lining the Kingsland Boulevard and Fry Road areas. Residents began calling Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack and learned a construction project was already underway and was slated to remove 85 trees in the Nottingham, Kelliwood, and Green Trails neighborhoods to open up additional lanes to help traffic flow. No input from neighboring residents
Residents stated they received no notifications or communication about the construction protect that would be removing the beloved 40-year-old oak trees that have been part of their Katy neighborhoods longer than many of the residents have been alive.
Lori Doucet-Alexander, a concerned Nottingham resident, logged onto a neighborhood Facebook page where neighbors were discussing the construction project. "Everyone was shocked so we just started organizing; all of us trying to call, write, and email the commissioner’s office," she says.
Signs and social media
Doucet-Alexander, along with a handful of neighbors met at the local Starbucks Tuesday night to make an emergency plan of action to save the trees. They stayed up creating signs to alert the neighborhood that the trees were being cut down. On Wednesday morning, the group placed signs near the trees and also started getting the word out through social media. Petition Started
Doucet-Alexander says her husband Frank finally got in touch with Commissioner Radack personally Wednesday morning at 10:30 AM and was told it was too late to do anything about it. Doucet-Alexander said she had never been an activist before, but was passionate about saving the trees so she created a petition on Change.org. The petition post was posted on community Facebook pages (including Katy Magazine) and in just a few hours 1150+ petitions had been signed by concerned residents. Numerous others residents called and emailed Commissioner Radack's office directly.
The Change.org petition site stated: 40 year old oaks are being destroyed and traffic capacity is being expanded with the unintended consequence of inviting more commuters from outside our community to use the residential intersection of Fry & Kingsland as a solution to bypass ill equipped major roadways. This planned project conducted by Harris County Precinct 3 is already underway in our community.
The residents of Nottingham Country and the surrounding communities had NO OPPORTUNITY to voice opinions, concerns and priorities surrounding a project that will drastically impact our community. This is a solution that we did not ask for and do not want. These trees are synonymous with the Nottingham Community and if you mention our area to anyone familiar with Katy you will most likely get a mention of the trees in response. They are a treasure 40 years in the making that should be preserved for future generations and not mowed down for convenience.They are the the reason many of our residents chose this place to be their home. They are a precious few that have stood watch over the change in this area and deserve to be protected as the historical icons that they are. They should be looked at through the lens of preservation of the essence of our community and the history surrounding it. Our priorities are clear, to maintain the history and residential feel of our communities. This is not a math solution based on queue times and traffic flow - if Nottigham Residents had been consulted it would have been clear to Commissioner Radack what is important to us. Stop cutting down our oaks and protect the residential intersection of Fry & Kingsland! Please contact Commissioner Steve Radack's office TODAY! Contact and Phone Numbers 1001 Preston, Suite 924 Houston, TX 77002 (713) 755-6306 (713) 755-8928 Email: Pct3@Pct3.com Project cancelled at 3:15 PM
At 3:15 PM, Nottingham neighbors were ecstatic to learn that the project had suddenly been canceled. A resident of Nottingham was sent this response: Commissioner Steve Radack reviewed the proposed Fry Road Intersection Improvement Project with County Engineer John Blount, Commissioner Radack concluded the project was far too intrusive. The County Engineer working with area municipal utility districts and the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) will need to find a better plan to address traffic congestion in the area. The proposed Fry Road Intersection Improvement Project has been cancelled. Please let us know if you have any questions.
"Nottingham is one of the original neighborhoods in Katy and those trees have been here long before other communities were even built," says Doucet-Alexander. "Those trees deserve our respect. There are many other ways to improve traffic that doesn’t entail cutting down the trees." Nothing to do with the petition
Both Radack and the Doucet-Alexander agree there are other ways to relieve traffic in the area that don't involve removing the trees.
We spoke to commission a Radack who said the cancelling of the project had nothing to do with the petition. Radack went down and looked at the project on Wednesday and agreed that it was far too intrusive to neighboring communities and says cutting down the trees is not necessary. "Nobody has planted more trees than I have." Commissioner Radack says he had a meeting with John Blount, the county engineer, who will be looking at less invasive options for improving traffic, hopefully with the help from the MUD districts. "The County Engineer working with area municipal utility districts and the Texas Department of Transportation will need to find a better plan to address traffic congestion in the area."