July 3, 2012
Mr. Michael Mair
EVP and Regional Manager
Skanska USA Commercial Development
1776 Yorktown, Suite 690
Houston, TX 77056
Dear Mr. Mair,
The Board of Directors of Fonn Villas Civic Association, Inc is writing to you as concerned neighbors about Skanska’s high rise office building development underway at 15375 Memorial Drive in Houston, Texas. We seek your immediate attention because we are concerned that Skanska is ready to embark on actions that irreversibly damage the environment and increase flooding along Buffalo Bayou.
When Skanska purchased the property back in February, the Memorial community was hopeful that Skanska would preserve the natural wildlife habitat around the 2-acre Lake Thicket. Instead the conditions of the lake have deteriorated for months, and the ducks are dying and now are being removed from the property. We were told in your June 1 letter to the neighbors that “there are no plans to drain the pond in the immediate future” and that Skanska “will not make any determination on the pond until plans have been finalized”. Why are you then hedging rather than committing to restore Lake Thicket to its historic position as a showcase of the Memorial community and to serving as both a wildlife habitat and a storm water retention lake?
Attached for your information are pictures of the same Lake Thicket view with one taken on a recent typical day and another during flooding conditions. If the Lake had been gone during this 2009 flood, approximately 3 million gallons of water would have been released to further flood adjacent properties as well as downstream communities like Fonn Villas.
You say in your June 20 letter to the neighbors that Lake Thicket “is not considered a regulatory retention or detention facility” and that Lake Thicket “has no impact on neighborhood drainage,” but the attached picture clearly contradicts those statements. Instead the old "drainage system,” which includes Lake Thicket and the course of the original Buffalo Bayou on the West side of Skanska's property, resumes its function and stores significant volumes of floodwater. If you reduce this capacity, it is at peril of many communities.
Why is Fonn Villas especially concerned? In April of 2009, 250 homes along Buffalo Bayou flooded, many of them in the Fonn Villas and Frostwood area. One of the reasons for the flooding is the lack of good retention or detention areas upstream to accommodate the increased impervious areas, which resulted from the area’s highway and building construction in the last decade. The other reason is that Buffalo Bayou is incapable of handling heavy storms.
Our Memorial community welcomes Skanska as a developer. We just want your commitment now to save our natural lake, which enhances the beauty of the Memorial neighborhood. This commitment will help eliminate costly flooding along Buffalo Bayou, and will likely help Skanska land more attractive tenants.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Fonn Villas Board