By Charlotte Aguilar
The complicated proposal to relocate cramped Bellaire High School to the 28-acre Chevron property on Fournace Place appears to have reached a dead-end.
District V Trustee Mike Lunceford, who represents the area, told InstantNews Wednesday night that he will not support purchasing the property. “It is too expensive, and I feel that I do not have the support of the board,” Lunceford said in an email. “I have asked the administration to go back and develop a plan to rebuild Bellaire High School at the current site with the approved budget.”
The matter is on the agenda for the 2 p.m. closed executive session of the Houston ISD board of trustees Thursday (Oct. 13).
Reconstruction of the 1955 campus, on 17 acres at the corner of South Rice Avenue and Maple Street, was approved by voters as part of a nearly $2 billion HISD bond election in 2012. The project has lagged behind schedule and increased in cost because of the complexities of dealing with Bellaire’s tight zoning regulations and the question of what to do with the school’s 3,500-plus students during construction.
HISD’s Bond Office suggested to the school’s Project Advisory Team that the property could be purchased with the $136 million budgeted, along with improvements that would allow the current high school to continue to be used until another bond election could be held. Additional bond funds and proceeds from the sale of the South Rice property would have been used for the new construction.
Although there was some support for the proposal in the community, others — including City Councilmember Pat McLaughlan — questioned whether pulling the Chevron property off the tax roll would be offset by likely residential development on the existing Bellaire HS site, or whether property taxes would increase.
The Bellaire City Council will hold a public hearing during its 6 p.m. meeting Monday (Oct. 17) on a provisional Technical Research Park zoning amendment that will provide extra requirements and review for the Chevron property until the Planning & Zoning Commission can finish its recommendations on how the property should be regulated in the Comprehensive Plan.