Saturday, August 30, 2008

Woodlands Township Meetings venue

As one might guess, there is something to say about the current controversy on meeting places and times of The Woodlands Township. We as a community are in transition from an association paradigm to a government paradigm. In that, I recognize the desire of those who serve now, to do so in day time hours at a convenient location. In this interim transition, the Township board has decided to conduct business later in the day, at 9AM instead of 7:30AM, which is personally OK with me but not so for some others. Additionally, to compensate for not being available to some residents, the meetings will be video taped. Additional services are being provided such as quarterly public meetings to provide an additional venue for residents to discuss their issues and the board to connect to issues on the minds of residents. Budget meetings will be held at 9AM. Although not optimum, this may be fine for now but I believe it is far short of what is needed by the year 2010.

The idea that the operation of the government should be established equal to other towns of this size is not a very good one. The operation should be based on the needs of our community, not the needs of other communities. We are unique, and we can design an operation around that uniqueness. We do not need to be like other communities of this size. We need to be our own community based on our demographics and needs.

These changes passed at the last monthly Township meeting are all good but again, insufficient for the long term. What we need is to totally reset the venue. The current location is too small. My suggestion is to have one meeting per month now in the evening in a location where residents can participate, maybe even a local school would suffice. Proceedings must be open and transparent. Transparency is provided through the video taping of the proceedings, openness is not.

Why would this be so important here in this little community? The town has a large population of professional people who commute to downtown Houston and other locations outside of The Woodlands. Morning meetings are out of the question for many. The reason our town continues to grow and flourish, even in poor housing development times, is the oil industry. The oil industry is booming! Most people living here and working in the oil industry commute during hours before dawn. They typically arrive home in the rush hour with everyone else so that their family life is in sync with children sports and other activities. We have to consider that those things which affect our homes and family lives are attached to the governing body of our hometown. In in the past, that personal link from our leadership has been provided by the association in the evenings. In the future that link becomes the Township.

I am firmly for the new changes but call for a stronger availability of our government to the residents. The changes made in this month's meeting to improve meetings are but a step in the right direction. Our village associations will certainly need to play a stronger role in providing residents a better quality of life, but the government must be available to the residents as well, and we cannot afford to leave out the backbone of our community, those who commute to work. Decisions are not made quarterly. They are made in special and regular meetings monthly.

Township reference link: Newsflash