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City of Bellaire
—  City  —
The Bellaire water tower, commemorating the city's little league team
Coordinates: 29°42′15″N 94°27′48″W / 29.70417°N 94.46333°W / 29.70417; -94.46333
Country United States
State Texas
County Harris
Incorporated June 24, 1918
Government
 - Mayor Cindy Siegel
Area
 - Total 3.6 sq mi (9.4 km2)
 - Land 3.6 sq mi (9.4 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 43 ft (13.1 m)
Population (2000)[1]
 - Total 15,642
 - Density 4,319/sq mi (1,668.3/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 77401-77402
Area code(s) 713
FIPS code 48-07300[2]
GNIS feature ID 1330381[3]
Website http://www.ci.bellaire.tx.us/

Bellaire is a city in southwest Harris County, Texas, United States within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area.[4] As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the city population was 15,642 and is completely surrounded by the cities of Houston and West University Place.

Bellaire is known as the "City of Homes" as the city is mostly residential,[5] while there are offices along the 610 Loop within the city limits.[6] As of 2000, Bellaire is the 27th wealthiest location in Texas by per capita income. John Nova Lomax, a journalist, stated in a 2008 Houston Press article that, due to the growth and dominance of Houston, municipal enclaves with their own services, including Bellaire, "are little more than glorified neighborhoods."[7]

Contents

History

Bellaire was founded in 1908 by William Wright Baldwin, who was the president of the South End Land Company. Baldwin, a native of Iowa, was well known as the vice president of the Burlington Railroad. Bellaire was founded on what was part of William Marsh Rice's 9,449 acre (38 km²) ranch. Baldwin surveyed the eastern 1,000 acres (4 km²) of the ranch into small truck farms. He named those farms "Westmoreland Farms". Baldwin started Bellaire in the middle of "Westmoreland Farms" to serve as a residential neighborhood and an agricultural trading center. South End Land Company advertised to farmers in the Midwestern United States. Baldwin stated that the town was named "Bellaire", or "Good Air" for its breezes". Bellaire may have been named after Bellaire, Ohio, a town served by one of Baldwin's rail lines.[4]

Teas Nursery, which was started by horticulturist Edward Teas; it will be closed in 2010 and redeveloped

Six miles of prairie was a buffer zone between Houston and Bellaire. Originally the town was bounded by Palmetto, First, Jessamine, and Sixth (now Ferris) Streets. In 1910 Edward Teas, a horticulturist, moved his nursery to Bellaire from Missouri so Teas could implement Sid Hare's landscaping plans. Bellaire was incorporated as a city with a general charter in 1918, ten years after its founding. Bellaire had a population of 200 at the time. Bellaire's population had reached 1,124 in 1940. After 1940, Bellaire had a rapid population explosion in the post-World War II building boom. On December 31, 1948, the city of Houston had annexed the land around the city of Bellaire, stopping the city of Bellaire's land growth. Bellaire remained independent of Houston; Bellaire adopted a home rule charter with a council-manager government in April 1949. By 1950 the city's residents had numbered 10,150. Bellaire High School was established in 1955.[4]

During the Hurricane Rita evacuation, a bus filled with residents from Brighton Gardens, a nursing home in Bellaire, caught on fire and exploded in the city of Wilmer. The September 23, 2005 explosion killed 24 people out of the 38 residents and employees in the bus.[8][9] The resulting lawsuit was settled in June 2009.[10] On March 23, 2008, a tour bus carrying Tejano singer Emilio crashed in Bellaire.[11][12][13] By 2008 an increasing number of houses sold for over 1,000,000 U.S. dollars.[14]

On December 31, 2008, Bellaire police officers confronted Robbie Tolan, the son of Bobby Tolan, in the driveway of his house at the 800 block of Woodstock.[15][16] Officers suspected Tolan, who was unarmed, of stealing a sports utility vehicle in the driveway and shot Tolan in the chest; Tolan's family owned the vehicle. Tolan was hospitalized with injuries to one lung and a liver. The incident sparked allegations of racial profiling.[15] Members of minority groups reported that Bellaire police racially profiled people; José Cruz, Jr., son of baseball player José Cruz, son of baseball player José Cruz, moved from Bellaire, his hometown, after being arrested by Bellaire police and spending one night in jail in 2002 due to having warrants for his arrest executed by another law enforcement agency. Regardless, in January 2009, Cruz accused the police of racially profiling. Mayor Cindy Siegel said that she was unaware of racial profiling by police.[17] Siegel announced that the city will investigate racial profiling and hire an independent consultant to look at traffic stop data.[18] The local NAACP branch said that it established a pact with the City of Bellaire; people may report civil rights violations from Bellaire Police to the branch if the people do not wish to contact the City of Bellaire.[19] However, the NAACP branch has not yet provided the city with any civil rights violations. On April 6, 2009 a Harris County grand jury indicted Sergeant Jeffrey Cotton, the police officer, for aggravated assault by a public servant. If convicted, Cotton could face up to life in prison.[16] In addition the family sued the police department and the police officer.[20] The upcoming trial in Harris County District Court on criminal felony charges against Cotton begins on January 25, 2010. [21]

Teas Nursery, which is the oldest nursery in Greater Houston, will be closed in 2010; the property was intended to be redeveloped into single family houses. The Teas Nursery business will either move to a new location or be liquidated.[22] In December the Rubenstein family bought the Teas property; the family planned to donate it to the City of Bellaire for community purposes.[23]

Geography and climate

Map of Bellaire

Bellaire is located at 29°42′11″N 95°28′06″W / 29.70306°N 95.46833°W / 29.70306; -95.46833. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.4 km²), all of it land.

The city is surrounded by Houston, West University Place, and Southside Place.[4] In a 2007 Houston Press article John Nova Lomax, a journalist, said that parts of Bellaire's downtown had "a certain raffish 1950s charm – the Bellaire Broiler Burger, for example – but it’s boring."[24]

Weather data for Bellaire
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °F (°C) 62
(17)
66
(19)
72
(22)
79
(26)
86
(30)
91
(33)
94
(34)
94
(34)
89
(32)
82
(28)
72
(22)
64
(18)
Average low °F (°C) 42
(6)
45
(7)
51
(11)
58
(14)
66
(19)
72
(22)
74
(23)
74
(23)
69
(21)
60
(16)
51
(11)
43
(6)
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.06
(103.1)
2.98
(75.7)
3.24
(82.3)
3.48
(88.4)
4.69
(119.1)
5.51
(140)
3.30
(83.8)
4.29
(109)
5.82
(147.8)
4.03
(102.4)
4.58
(116.3)
3.36
(85.3)
Source: Weather.com[25] June 2008

Demographics

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 15,642 people, 6,019 households, and 4,321 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,319.0 people per square mile (1,668.3/km²). There were 6,315 housing units at an average density of 1,743.7/sq mi (673.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.11% White, 0.84% African American, 0.27% Native American, 6.35% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.85% from other races, and 1.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.81% of the population.

There were 6,019 households out of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.3% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.6% under the age of 18, 3.9% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $89,775, and the median income for a family was $104,200. Males had a median income of $72,295 versus $49,766 for females. The per capita income for the city was $46,674. About 1.9% of families and 2.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure

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Local government

The Bellaire administration building

Bellaire currently has a city manager style of government. The home rule government was established on April 2, 1949, replacing the general law form of government. The city council is made up of the mayor and six city council members. All are elected at large. The mayor is elected for two-year terms, while each city council member is elected for four-year terms. The mayor may not serve for more than four terms in that position. A council members may have no more than two terms as a city council member.[26] Bellaire has zoning ordinances that dictate types of structures and uses throughout sections of the city.[27] As of 2010, the mayor is Cindy Siegel. The six council members are, in order of position, Will Hickman (1), Jim Avioli (2), Corbett Daniel Parker (3), Phil Nauert (4), Andrew Friedberg (5), and Mandy Nathan (6).[28]

Bellaire Fire Station

The Bellaire Fire Department is housed at 5101 Jessamine Street.[29] The fire station includes two fire engines and one medic unit.[30][31] The fire department operates the Citizens Fire Academy, a fire and life safety program for Bellaire citizens held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.[32] The old fire station was demolished in December of 2009, and operations are temporarily relocated at the Chevron building. A new fire station will open in the location of the previous fire station.[33]

The Bellaire Police Department is housed at 5110 Jessamine Street.[34] As of 2008 the Chief of Police is Randall Mack.[35] The police department's patrol division, the organization's largest division, includes patrol, detention, K-9, and bicycle units.[36] The support services division includes court, records, and communications divisions.[37] The police department offers the "House Watch Program," where interested residents allow police to check their houses while they are away on vacation.[38]

Bellaire Police & Courts Building

Zoning and land use controversies, common throughout Bellaire's history, resulted in the 1977 recall of the mayor and three council members.[4] The City of Bellaire voted against banning smoking in bars and restaurants on Monday January 15, 2007. Mayor Cindy Siegel and Pat McLaughlan, one council member, voted for the ban, while the other five members, including Peggy Faulk, voted against the ban. The National Restaurant Association asked Bellaire to consider adopting a smoking ban to put it in sync with the City of Houston, which adopted a similar ordinance in 2005.[39]

County, state, and federal government

Bellaire is within Harris County Precinct 3. As of 2008 Steve Radack serves as the commissioner of that precinct.[40] It is in Constable Precinct One. As of 2008 Jack Abercia heads the constable precinct.[41]

Bellaire is located in District 134 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008 Ellen Cohen represents the district.[42] Bellaire is within District 17 of the Texas Senate.[43]

Bellaire is in Texas's 7th congressional district; as of 2008 John Culberson is the representative.[44] The designated United States Postal Service office is the Bellaire Post Office at 5350 Bellaire Boulevard in Bellaire.[45] Bellaire first received a post office in 1911.[4]

Transportation

Bellaire Transit Center

Bellaire is a member city of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO).[46] The city is served by bus lines 2 (Bellaire), 17, 33 (Post Oak Crosstown), 49 (Chimney Rock Crosstown), and 65 (Bissonnet).[47] The Bellaire Transit Center, located at 5100 Bellaire Boulevard at South Rice Avenue, has four lines (2, 33, 49, 65).[48]

In Bellaire's early history, Bellaire Boulevard and a historic street car line connected Bellaire to Houston. The street car line, which ran a four mile (6 km) stretch from central Bellaire to Houston's Main Street, started construction in 1909. The streetcar line consisted of one railway track and an overhead electric wire. A waiting pavilion and a turnaround loop were located at the terminus in Bellaire. The Houston Electric Company had simultaneously constructed a south end line from Eagle Avenue to what is now Fannin Street to connect to the Bellaire Boulevard line. Service, with one required transfer at Eagle Avenue, began on December 28, 1910. The streetcar was nicknamed the "Toonerville Trolley". On September 26, 1927 the trolley line was abandoned and replaced by a bus line. This was due to frequent derailments caused by a worn-out track and the advent of the automobile.[4]

Economy and workforce

The City of Bellaire has property zoned for light industrial, commercial, and mixed-use residential and commercial uses.[27] Bellaire has some high-rise office buildings along Interstate 610.[4] Frost Bank's Houston-area offices are located in Bellaire.[49] AT&T operates its Houston-area headquarters in an office building at 6500 West Loop South in Bellaire; the building was with SBC Corporation before it absorbed the former AT&T.[50][51] The main offices of the Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce are located in Bellaire.[52] The chamber assists economy activity in Bellaire.[53] Chevron has a 33-acre campus at 4800 Fournace Place in Bellaire that is the headquarters for the Chevron Pipe Line Company along with several other business units.[54] Prior to the merger between Chevron and Texaco, the facility belonged to Texaco.[55][56] Texaco built the 502,000 square feet (46,600 m2) square foot facility.[57]

In 1953 the Consulate-General of Sweden moved to Bellaire.[4] At one point the Consulate-General of Honduras in Houston was located in Suite 360 at 6700 West Loop South in Bellaire.[58] As of 2009 the Honduran Consulate-General and the Swedish Honorary Consulate are located in Houston.[59]

Bellaire had 8,120 employed civilians as of the 2000 Census, including 3,835 females. Of the civilian workers, 5,368 (66.1%) were private for profit wage and salary workers. Of them 689 (8.5% of the total Bellaire civilian workforce) were employees of their own corporations. 952 (11.7%) were private non-profit wage and salary workers. 446 (5.5%) worked for local governments. 479 (5.9%) were state government workers. 111 (1.4%) were federal workers. 754 (9.3%) were self-employed; none of them worked in agriculture, forestry, fishing, or hunting. 10 (.1%) were unpaid family workers.[60]

Parks and recreation

The historic Bellaire street car is within Paseo Park

Bellaire has several parks within the city limits operated by the city. Bellaire Zindler Park, a 7.5-acre (30,000 m2) park located at 5113 Laurel Street,[61] was given its current name in honor of Marvin Zindler, a Houston journalist; it was originally named Bellaire Park.[62] Bellaire Zindler Park includes a neighborhood pool, two lighted tennis courts, a gazebo, a picnic area, a jogging trail, an open playground, the Bellaire Recreation Center, and the Bellaire Civic Center, which includes auditoriums and meeting rooms. The .875-acre (3,540 m2) Vic Driscoll Park at 4500 Locust Street consists entirely of open green space. The 2.1-acre (8,500 m2) Evergreen Park at 4500 Evergreen Street includes a neighborhood pool and a playground and picnic area. The 4.7-acre (19,000 m2) Feld Park at 6406 Avenue B includes an adult softball field, a playground, two lighted tennis courts, and the Feld Scout House. The .2-acre (810 m2) Joe Gaither Park at 4901 Anderson Street includes a play structure with swings and green space. The 3.1-acre (13,000 m2) Horn Field (Avenue B at Holly Street) includes two lighted baseball fields, youth soccer (football) fields, and a T-Ball field. The .489-acre (1,980 m2) Jacquet Park at Jaquet Drive at Elm Street consists of a playground and picnic area. The 1.5-acre (6,100 m2) Lafayette Park at 4337 Lafayette Street includes a playground and picnic area, an open play area, and the Officer Lucy Dog Park, a dog park. The .75-acre (3,000 m2) Locust Park at 4600 Locust Street consists of an open play area and a shaded picnic area. The 1.795-acre (7,260 m2) Loftin Park at 5100 Laurel Street consists of open green space. The 2.547-acre (10,310 m2) Mulberry Park at 700 Mulberry Lane includes a playground area, a picnic shelter, a youth baseball field, and three lighted tennis courts. The 6.6-acre (27,000 m2) Paseo Park along Bellaire Boulevard includes an esplanade, the Bellaire Trolley and the Special Event area. The 7-acre (28,000 m2) Pin Oak Park at 5801 West Loop South (610 Loop) includes two lighted baseball fields, one lighted soccer and American football field, one jogging track, and three basketball/tennis courts. The 4.1-acre (17,000 m2) Russ Pitman Park at 7112 Newcastle Drive includes the Henshaw House, the Nature Discovery Area, a playground area, a sheltered picnic area, a self-guided nature trail, two pavilions, and an aviary.[61]

As of 1996 Bellaire prohibits smoking in public parks and dogs in all non-dog public parks; as of that year smoking in public parks brings a fine of $500. The ordinance was adopted around 1996 on a 4-3 vote.[63]

Bellaire holds annual Fourth of July parades and annual "'snow' in the park" Christmas celebrations.[64] Bellaire's Little League baseball team entered the Little League World Series in 2000; the team lost to the team of Maracaibo, Venezuela.[65]

Education

Primary and secondary public schools

The city is served by Houston Independent School District (HISD). Bellaire is within Trustee District V, represented by Dianne Johnson as of 2008.[66][67][68] Johnson will no longer serve as a board member after 2009.[69]

Pupils who live in Bellaire inside of the 610 Loop are zoned to Paul W. Horn Academy[70] for elementary school, while students in Bellaire outside of the 610 Loop are zoned to either Condit Elementary School[71] or Lovett Elementary School,[72] the latter of which is in Houston. In addition, all Bellaire pupils are zoned to Pershing Middle School [73] in the Braeswood Place neighborhood of Houston and Bellaire High School in Bellaire. In addition, a middle school called Pin Oak Middle School, which was built in 2002, is located in Bellaire. Students zoned to Johnston, Long, and Pershing Middle Schools may choose to attend Pin Oak instead; therefore Bellaire students may attend Pin Oak.[74] Pin Oak was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2008.[75][76]

Maud W. Gordon Elementary School in Bellaire does not have a zoning boundary; it draws excess students from apartments west of Bellaire, in Houston, to relieve other schools in Houston west of Bellaire such as Benavidez, Cunningham, Elrod, and Milne. From its opening to 1953 to 1983 Gordon served as a neighborhood school. After its closure Gordon temporarily housed the Post Oak School and later served as administrative offices. It re-opened as a relief school in 1988 for Elrod and Cunningham schools.[77]

Bellaire's first school opened in 1909; the school moved to a new site in 1914 and an addition opened in 1927; when the addition opened the school was renamed "Condit." Horn opened in 1949, Pershing opened in 1927, Bellaire High School opened in 1955, and Pin Oak opened in 2002. Pershing's current campus opened in January 2007.[77]

Gabriela Mistral Early Childhood Center is the closest public early childhood center to the city of Bellaire and Kolter Elementary School is the closest school with a tuition-based early childhood program.[78][79] Only economically-disadvantaged students, homeless students, students who are not proficient in English, or children of active-duty members of the U.S. military or whose parent has been killed, injured, or missing in action while on active duty may be enrolled in tuition-free HISD preschools. Students who are eligible for HISD's preschools may attend any Early Childhood Center in Houston ISD for free. Students not eligible may enroll in tuition-based HISD preschool programs.[79]

Gallery of public schools

Primary and secondary private schools

Three independent (private) schools, including Episcopal High School (9-12), The Post Oak School (Montessori K-8), and the Veritas Christian Academy (K-8), are located in Bellaire.[80][81] Episcopal High School opened in fall 1984; its campus previously housed Marion High School and the Congregation of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, a Roman Catholic school operated by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament and within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.[82][83] The current campus of The Post Oak School opened in 1986;[84] the school had been previously housed in the Gordon Elementary School campus.[77] Holy Ghost School, a Catholic private K-8 school, is located at 6920 Chimney Rock Road in Houston and adjacent to the Bellaire city limits.[85] Private schools near Bellaire in areas of Houston include Saint Agnes Academy, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, and St. Thomas' Episcopal School.[64]

Community colleges

Bellaire is served by the Houston Community College System (HCCS). The community college district operates the HCCS Gulfton Center, located at 5407 Gulfton Drive in the Gulfton area of Houston. Gulfton Center, a 35,100-square-foot (3,260 m2) campus building owned by HCCS, opened in 1990 after Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co. sold the building to HCCS for $700,000 (1990 dollars). The West Loop Center, an HCCS-owned campus at 5601 West Loop South which opened in Spring 1999, is in Houston and in close proximity to Bellaire.[86][87] Both the Gulfton and West Loop campuses are part of the district's Southwest College.[88]

Public libraries

The Bellaire City Library

The city of Bellaire also operates its own library, the Bellaire City Library, at 5111 Jessamine Street.[89] The Friends of the Bellaire Library, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established in 1951 to support the City of Bellaire Library.[90]

Media

The Bellaire Buzz is a monthly magazine about people, products and services in the community. It is mailed free of charge to all residents the first week of each month. The Houston Chronicle is the area regional newspaper. Residents receive the Bellaire/West U/River Oaks/Meyerland local section.[91] The Southwest News is the oldest local paper currently published in Bellaire; offices are at 5160 Spruce Street. The Bellaire Examiner is a newspaper also distributed free to residents.[92]

Notable residents

Gallery

See also

References

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