According to many Alief (District F) residents, the “F” has for too long, stood for “forgotten,” as in ignored, overlooked, disrespected. But if the area’s city councilmember, Tiffany Thomas, has anything to say about it, District F will now be known as the district of the “future,” as in the model for all others to follow.
And it’s looking like Thomas is on pace to make that happen, especially with the area’s new symbol of forward movement—the new Alief Neighborhood Center.
The City of Houston recently celebrated the new Alief Neighborhood Center (11903 Bellaire Blvd. Houston, 77072) with an open house event Saturday. The event featured remarks from Mayor Sylvester Turner, Councilmember Thomas and other local leaders on the nearly 20-year development plan to complete this unique project. Hundreds of community members explored the innovative facilities, were invited to register for classes and events, and signed up for My LINK library cards.
Last week’s grand opening aligns with Mayor Turner’s priority to execute and implement in 2023.
“This one-of-a-kind City destination captures the spirit of Alief and will be transformational for this community,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The Alief Neighborhood Center is a cutting-edge facility for Houston, designed to meet the needs of this incredibly diverse community. This project has been 20 years in the making, and I am proud of the dedication of my team and the advocacy of neighborhood groups and Alief residents.”
But just as important, if not more so, the grand opening is being viewed by current and former residents as a symbol of the turnaround taking place in District F.
“I have always known the value and importance of the Center for the community, but (the grand opening) exceeded not only my expectations, but my colleagues’ and most importantly, the community’s,” said Thomas. “After my remarks, I had a moment to turn around and take it all in. And behind me were hundreds of people, which is symbolic. These are the people who I represent who have my back as I push to make sure District F is no longer forgotten, but becomes the future of what community looks like.”
Michelle Meade, who lived in Alief from the mid ‘90s through the early 2000s recalled issues that demanded change in the area.
“I left the area to change school districts for my son because the teachers warned me that the middle schools had gangs,” said Meade. “Then after Katrina, a lot of Louisiana residents moved into Alief. It hasn’t been the same since.”
However, Ingrid Traylor Williams has a vastly different Alief story to tell; one Thomas hopes becomes the norm testimony.
“Both of my sons graduated from Elsik High School,” she said. “I love it here and own a home here. I love the multi-cultural atmosphere.”
And it is Alief’s diversity that has Thomas gushing about the leadership position she see’s District F taking in Houston, the nation’s most diverse city. And central to that celebration of diversity is the new Neighborhood Center.
Situated on Alief Park, the new facility is larger and houses three COH Departments: Houston Health Department, Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) and Houston Public Library (HPL). The City’s General Services Department (GSD) managed the 58-million-dollar redevelopment project and will maintain the 70,000-square-foot facility; Page/EYP was the architecture firm that completed the planning and design.
“When the idea was presented to my administration, I said it was time to stop talking and start doing. So, I worked with my team to move the project forward to get built. And today is the culmination of all the ideas, work and community feedback. We did it!” exclaimed Turner.