New Caney, February 6 – It’s very strange. Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner won’t meet with constituents. Yesterday, after several weeks of requests to meet with their new County Commissioner who came into office on January 1, 2019, the residents of the Allendale-Greenbough neighborhood learned that County Commissioner James Metts is “unavailable for a meeting” ever.
The Allendale-Greenbough neighborhood, near the intersection of F.M. 1314 and State Highway 242 has suffered from drainage and flooding problems ever since the Thunder Gun Range adjacent to the neighborhood performed substantial dirt work and changed the natural flow of water in the area in the 2015 and 2016 time frame. Now, when it rains, the neighborhood experiences severe water retention problems.
On January 26, 2017, then-Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark meet with a room full of residents of the neighborhood at the Allendale Baptist Church just down the road from the Gun Range. Clark brought an entourage of engineers from Binkley and Barfield, along with baked goods and drinks to attempt to placate the angry mob. Clark and David Hamilton, P.E., a civil engineer with Binkley and Barfield presented several options for the neighborhood but explained that the most cost effective was to construct a one hundred foot wide drainage ditch (with an additional 20 foot maintenance area) that would extend approximately 3,453 feet through the neighborhood and carry water diverted from the gun range into a drainage ditch along F.M. 1314. The ditch would have a capacity to hold water up to a 25-year flood event. Larger flood events would overflow out of the ditch into the neighborhood. The ditch would cut through several backyards and homes, expenses which the County has not considered in preparing the proposal. Binkley and Barfield has estimated the cost of construction at $500,000.
Clark had told the neighbors that work would begin on the solution on January 30, 2017. Please see “Allendale Neighbors Meet with Commissioner Clark, Engineers to Seek Drainage Solutions,” The Golden Hammer, January 28, 2017. The work never occurred.
On November 28, 2017, Clark and Montgomery County Community Development Director Joanne Ducharme conducted a formal public hearing on a proposed grant from the federal government in the range of $3 million for the purpose of funding the drainage and flood mitigation capital improvements. A lively crowd of Precinct 4 residents, mostly from the Allendale neighborhood and from River Oaks Drive, expressed enormous gratitude and excitement when Clark and Ducharme made the announcement. Nothing has happened, although Clark did confirm that the grant application is pending.
After Metts won the May 22 Republican Runoff Election in 2018, community leader Paul Crowson began to attempt to set up a meeting with Metts to discuss the issues in the Allendale-Greenbough neighborhood.
On February 5, 2019, however, Metts’ office information Crowson by email that the Commissioner would not meet with the more than 300 residents interested in the meeting. Crowson explained, “I left it wide open with Commissioner Metts plenty of options, days and times, this was the response I received back today.”
The response to Crowson’s persistent requests for a residents’ meeting with their newly-elected Commissioner came from Metts’ Chief of Staff, Phyllis Martin, who is the same lady whom the Board of District Judges terminated as Montgomery County Auditor for failing to perform the functions of her job. Martin told Crowson that Metts is “unavailable” for a meeting but that she would be happy to answer Crowson’s questions to provide an update on the Allendale project.
During the third week in January, Crowson and other residents in the neighborhood observed a number of County government trucks doing some sort of activity. Metts’ public relations director Jamie Nash took photographs of the actions and appeared in the neighborhood herself driving a Cadillac. Crowson and his neighbors have observed no improvements.
Many Precinct 4 citizens were critical of what they claimed was a lack of service by Clark during his four years in office. Clark, however, did meet with constituents regularly, regardless of the degree to which they were upset with him.
Commissioner Metts seems to be in hiding and unwilling to face constituents directly.