Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kings Forest Entrance Revitalization Project is Progressing

Drive by the Woods Estates entrance on Kingwood Drive and you’ll see a model of what the four major entrances to Kings Forest will look like. We hope you’re pleased; we’ve received quite a few positive compliments not only from our own residents, but other Kingwood residents as well.

The Woods Estates entrance is essentially complete, with only the lights to be turned on once Centerpoint installs the meter and connects the power to the nearby pole. The delays have primarily been due to the complexities of City of Houston permitting, electricians and energy companies (Commerce Energy and Centerpoint), but we’re getting there. And most important, the entrance has been completed within the allocated budget.

Secondary Entrances
Plans are progressing to begin the secondary entrances at Shady Run and Cedar Knolls (near the Montessori School), which are currently marked with deteriorating wooden signs. The secondary entrances were chosen to be completed next for the simple reason that since they’re smaller, their cost could be covered in the 2008 budget.*

In the November 2008 board meeting, Revitalization Committee Chair Tricia Morley presented four design options for the secondary entrances -- a single pillar, a low wing wall, a simple low wall, and walls with ironwork. (These designs were rendered by Dale Clarke, who is the landscape designer chosen by the board to complete the Kings Forest entrance revitalization project.) The single pillar was the design that had been presented to residents last spring, and received positive support. However, a couple of residents asked for alternate designs to be considered, so other designs were produced, including a lower, wider monument, and two small pillars connected by ironwork.

The board and residents in attendance voted 4-1 in favor of the single pillar design. This pillar will cost approximately $5,000, compared with $8,500 - $10,000+ for the other options, which all required bigger foundations, more brick and stone treatments.

The board and Revitalization Committee decided not to install irrigation or electricity at the secondary entrances at this time, primarily driven by budget constraints. The consensus is that all the major entrances need to be completed first. We can return to the secondary entrances at any time in the future to enhance them with plantings, lighting and irrigation.

Future Plans

In the first quarter of 2009, the Kings Forest Drive entrance will be redone. The two remaining entrances at Woodland Hills and Valley Manor will be addressed in 2010 – unless residents choose to accelerate this process with voluntary donations. You’ll receive more information in your assessment mailing.

Several residents have advocated a new entrance treatment be constructed at the corner of Woodland Hills and Kingwood Drive, where Kings Forest currently has a rather battered looking wood fence. Comparisons have been drawn with the attractive corner monument that Kingwood Lakes has installed at its corner. Granted, there is little “real estate” available for a major entrance treatment for Kings Forest, but there are ways in which we can make our corner more attractive.

In October, the Kings Forest Board and Revitalization Committee met with designer Dale Clarke to explore options and potential costs for this new entrance treatment. To construct several segments of brick wall with stone plaques and finials matching the other entrances would cost $50,000 or more. Permitting would be required from the City of Houston, but Dale did not anticipate major obstacles would be presented by the City. Decisions regarding this entrance will be discussed with residents and no action taken until and unless the Board and Committee have community support.

* As reported in the September 2008 Revitalization Committee Report to the board, the Revitalization Committee solicited and received guidance from the Treasurer and the board members in the August board strategy meeting regarding the anticipated budget for the remainder of 2008, and the proposed budget for 2009. Their input and approval was received to consider the addition of the smaller entrance projects in calendar year 2008. In the September board meeting, the Committee made a motion – and the board approved -- allocating approximately $10,000 out of the 2008 budget to install the pillars at Shady Run and Cedar Knolls (near the Montessori school) entrances.