Transparency is a big value of ours. This page contains the letters our elected officers are sending out to advocate for our community.
Letter sent on Feb 21st. Hand delivered to Mr. Allen's office at the Parks building on Wayside Dr.
Second official letter delivered on March 30th via email
Letter Send on May 3rd by email after an email request to postpone the meeting was denied.
Karina Blest <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Concerns about the Virtual Information Session on May 5th, 2022
Karina Blest <email@example.com> Mon, May 2, 2022 at 4:37 PM
To: Robert.Gallegos@houstontx.gov, Kenneth.firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Cc: Carol.Alvarado@senate.texas.gov, Representative Christina Morales <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Dear Councilman Gallegos, Director Allen, and Chairman Schultz:
I received the Notice on April 27th by “Councilman Robert Gallegos and the Houston Parks & Recreation Department in partnership with the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art” of an online information meeting on May 5th regarding the SmokeSax public art piece. It is in English and Spanish.
We sent an email on April 21st when we first heard about a meeting being planned at the beginning of May noting the lack of notice to our neighborhood and the online attendance barrier. This letter reiterates those points and takes into account the Notice.
Here are the issues and concerns we would like to have on public record prior to the meeting:
First, a 7- day notice of a public meeting is unacceptable considering your office has known about this project for months. We have been inquiring about this project from your office since we first learned about it in January 2022. The first meeting was canceled by the OSCVA when we asked for 2-6 months to survey the community. We heard about a possible meeting on April 21st with the date and time TBD. We wrote you an email requesting a postponement of the meeting to a later date so we would have adequate time to inform our neighborhood. As Daniel Santamaria, of Councilman Gallegos’ office stated in his reply, May is a very busy meeting month which is another reason why this meeting should have been scheduled for a later month.
Second, an online meeting is also unacceptable. Online access to a meeting is a significant barrier for our residents which includes many seniors, single-income families, disabled people, and veterans. In addition, we have noticed that Councilman Gallegos has consistently attended various in-person meetings and events to date. Our residents deserve equal treatment and opportunity as your other constituents.
Third, our neighborhood has a rich cultural diverse population. As such we have a significant number of Spanish only speaking residents. To announce a meeting without the provision of a translator stated in the meeting notice precludes many from attending. The provision of a translator is a standard feature in public meetings. In addition to the language barrier, there is also a cultural element that requires a culturally informed competent notice.
Fourth, we are concerned that what has been stated to be an informational meeting may be inappropriately used as means to construe Fonde Neighborhood consent for a public works project. We strongly oppose the use of any meeting, especially one without proper notice and accessibility, to be used as a tactic to produce the appearance of Fonde neighborhood consent. This meeting will not take the place of a proper Fonde neighborhood survey.
Fifth, we are aware per the OSCVA’s November 2021 press release that this SmokeSax public work exists as part and parcel of a greater expansion plan including the appropriation of Fonde Park. We request full disclosure at the meeting about the public works project details and any other ramifications such as the appropriation of Fonde Park by bookending the OSCVA property to the Bayou, as more fully described in our letter sent on March 30, 2022.
Sixth, the OSCVA is now seeking funds from the public for the sax project on its website without any disclaimers. In other words, it has announced to the public that the sax project has been approved. The Notice announces there is a “partnership” between Councilman Gallegos, Houston Parks & Recreation Department and the OSCVA. The use of the legal term “partnership” tells the public that the OSCVA has indeed been told by the Councilman and Parks that the sax project is approved, otherwise why would the OSCVA represent that to the public? The Notice indicates the sax project is merely a proposal. Please explain these discrepancies, and provide us with a copy of the partnership agreement referred to in the Notice.
Seventh, the FCC is a key stakeholder in all of the important community matters that are being discussed. We expect to be treated equally with all other key stakeholders. Councilman Gallegos and Director Allen are public servants bound by ethics laws requiring them to be fair to their various constituents. We trust you are and have been acting in the best interest of all stakeholders, not just the OS, as you consider the sax and its implications for the control and use of Fonde Park.
The Fonde Civic Club leadership is committed to continuing to advocate for the voice of its residents to be heard. We will attend City meetings that we have been notified of and will advocate for our neighborhood on such issues, even as we strenuously object to the holding of and procedures and implied content of such meetings.
President, Fonde Civic Club
Dear Councilman and women, I am here to speak on behalf of our neighborhood and all other neighborhoods who like us need your help in making resident's voices heard concerning Placement of Large scale Works of Art in Public Community Spaces.
We urge the City of Houston to develop statutes to ensure community consent is required for public art works to be installed in a community space.
Secondly, I have come here from Fonde Neighborhood to advocate to keep our Fonde Park programming and spaces serving the families and communities where it is located.
It has come to our attention through the Orange Show Press release, that the decision making over the facilities and programming of our beloved Fonde Park will be given to the Orange Show which is a Houston non-profit corporation. As stated in their own press release:
"Along with the expansion, the campus integrates into Houston’s Fonde Park, adding an additional 9 acres of greenspace and bringing the visitor experience to 17 acres.
“The expansion integrates into the adjacent Fonde Park, allowing OSCVA to capitalize on the 9 acres of greenspace and connect to The Bayou Greenways trail for bicyclists. OSCVA will revitalize the park with community-driven programming, featuring a 70-foot-tall sculpture…
I believe the taking over of such integral parts of the park amounts to appropriation given the campus integration and capitalization language, which is alarming to us, members of the community and community advocates as officers of the Fonde Civic Club.
Recently during a short notice online meeting, we were assured by both our Coulciman, the Parks and the Orange show which have joined in a partnership, that the park would remain a public park.
The issue is not if the park will remain open to the public, the issue is whose interests will Fonde Park serve? If the community's then the park's focus will remain a traditional one with our basketball, baseball, soccer fields and playground. If the interests of the Orange Show are served then Fonde park will be changed to accommodate their sculptures, concerts, and other such related programming.
In closing, we would like to request your help in ensuring our park continues to serve our immediate community.