City Hopes to Reduce Stray Dogs with Television Camera in Katy Dog Park

By George Slaughter

Katy hopes to reduce the number of stray dogs by installing a camera at Katy Dog Park

In an effort to reduce stray and abandoned dogs in Katy, the Katy City Council Monday authorized the installation and operation of a television camera at the Katy Dog Park, 5414 Franz Road.

“I’m very passionate about animals and pets,” Ward B Council Member Rory Robertson said. “When I learned that there were many instances of pets being abandoned at the dog park, I knew we had to do something immediately.”

Robertson said although the city had a camera approved for use, there were ongoing discussions about who would monitor the camera and how it would be used. The Katy Police Department, only a short distance away from the park, will operate and monitor the camera. If a situation arises, Robertson said, police can be onsite quickly.

“(Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member-at-Large) Chris Harris and I pushed it onto the agenda to make sure we were proceeding with it and it wasn’t getting lost,” Robertson said. “There is a need for it. It’s devastating for dogs when they’re abandoned.”

In some cases, families cannot keep their dogs, for whatever reason. But Robertson said there’s a right way to handle such situations.

“Families may believe the dog park is a safe location to drop them off, but it is not,” Robertson said. “The rescues are probably pretty full, but with a little legwork you can find a rescue that can help you.”

Robertson said he’s urged people to reach out to him directly if they have a dog they can no longer keep. He said animal rescuers also need to reach out.

“It needs to be a team effort,” Robertson said.

Remembering Three Katy Luminaries

The council held a moment of silence before beginning Monday’s meeting to remember David Leyendecker, the longtime city engineer who died last Wednesday.

In a letter sent to the council and read at the meeting, former Ward B Council Member Durran Dowdle suggested that the pond on the north end of the Katy Dog Park be renamed Leyendecker’s Landing.

Ward A Council Member Janet Corte said after the meeting she thought it was a worthy idea.

“Everywhere you go in this city, you’re seeing something that David Leyendecker affected,” Corte said. “He was always very calm, very patient, always a gentleman.”

Before its moment of silence, Mayor Bill Hastings asked everyone to also remember local physician Dr. Mark Bing, who worked with Katy High School student-athletes for many years, and Sharon Rhoads, namesake of Rhoads Elementary School, 19711 Clay Road. Bing died Saturday. Rhoads died Sunday.

City Seeking Public Input on Downtown Property

The council is seeking public input on the best use for the former Roberta Rylander home site and the downtown plaza under construction.

The Rylander property, the former home site for longtime Katy resident Roberta Rylander, sits on the west side of Avenue D, next to Thomas Park and across the street from City Hall.

The plaza, on the other side of City Hall, is undergoing development to include a visitor center, public restroom, and open space.

The iconic water tower standing on the square remains for decorative and historical purposes, but is not used for city water purposes. The tower is surrounded by a small, fenced-in public area that features photos and plaques of Katy’s history.

The plan, developed by a committee led by former Mayor Doyle Callender, was several years in the making. City officials broke ground on the project in 2019. But the coronavirus pandemic has presented complications and made a completion date uncertain.

“People are tired of seeing dirt and seeing it look like a construction zone,” Corte said. “The Rylander property was not even thought of. Let’s take a pause and get some community input, and see what they say. They might come back and say they like the original design. How do the residents want this to look?”

The city expects to create a special e-mail address through which citizens can offer input about how the city can best use the property. The city will consider the input and decide how best to proceed.

“The goal is to get it usable, and usable as soon as possible,” Corte said. “We need to do what we can to help the downtown shop owners. Let’s get the plaza usable so people will enjoy going down there.”

The council Monday authorized a $8,923.61 change order for adjustments to irrigation and landscape items to the landscape phase 1. The original contract amount was $40,738. The revised contract amount with the change order is $49,661.61.

Renovating the Katy Manor Apartments

The council heard a presentation from Robbye Meyer, of Arx Advantage of Austin, to renovate the Katy Manor Apartments, 5360 E. 5th St.

The apartments have 48 two-bedroom units of affordable rental housing for families in a three-residential building complex. The complex also includes one community building. Units are reserved for families making 60% and below the area’s median income.

Arx Advantage is applying to renovate the apartments under an IRS tax credit program administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The estimated cost is $5.2 million. The application required council support and a $250 waiver on the city’s part, which the council granted.

Harris said the renovations were a worthy investment. The $5.2 million estimated cost will come from mortgages, escrow transfers, deferred developer fees, and low-income housing tax credits.

A decision is expected in July. If approved, renovation work is set to begin in June 2022.

Other Actions Taken

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Approved minutes for the November 9, November 17, November 19, and November 30 council meetings.
  • Approved a $564 membership dues payment to the Houston-Galveston Area Council.
  • Approved a $3,000 membership dues payment to the Greater Houston Partnership.
  • Approved a $270 membership dues payment to the Texas Downtown Association.
  • Approved a final plat for 3.8 acres for Cane Island Pitts Road Phase 3, in Waller County.
  • Approved a final plat for 1.3 acres for Cane Island Oak Grove Trail Phase 1, in Waller County.
  • Approved a final plat for 6.6 acres for Cane Island Section 32A, in Waller County.
  • Approved a final plat for 13.8 acres for Cane Island Section 32B, in Waller County.
  • Approved a final plat for 21.95 acres for Cane Island Section 34, in Waller County.
  • Approved a final plat of 22.76 acres for Cane Island Detention Pond P, in Waller County.
  • Authorized an emergency services agreement between Fort Bend County Municipal Utility District #37 and the city.
  • Appointed Adrienne Davitz, Linda Mikeska, and Jared Cardiff to the Katy Heritage Park Board.
  • Increased groundwater reduction user fees charged for each single family residential, multifamily residential, and commercial structure and unit, payable to the West Harris County Regional Water Authority, to $1.94 per thousand gallons of water used. This goes into effect January 15.