Red tape delays convenience store rebuild
By James Bolen
Roughly five months after the roof collapsed to the Friendly Mart convenience store, located on Hall Road at Beamer, the store’s owner has yet to rebuild due to bureaucratic red tape.
“I’m planning to rebuild,” said Arif Darugar of Mufaddal Ventures, who has owned the store since 1998. “I’m just waiting for my attorney to give me the green light. If it were a minor repair, I would have already taken care of it.”
According to Darugar, his insurance company has been slow to reach a settlement on the issue, which would allow him to rebuild the building.
“I’m waiting for the insurance company to give me clearance to rebuild,” Darugar said.
The store owner recently filed a lawsuit against the insurance company in hopes of accelerating the process.
Darugar said the damage, which was caused by heavy water weight back in June, is so extensive that a complete ground-up reconstruction is now necessary.
Darugar further said a new store design will now be required to accommodate for new flooding regulations, which were not in place in 1976 when the building was originally constructed. Such design changes include raising the structure and its adjacent parking lot.
Darugar has already hired an architect and an engineer to help with the new design, but he is still waiting on approval from his insurance company.
Once approved by his insurance provider, the design plans must still be submitted to Harris County for approval.
“It’s already in the pipeline,” Darugar said. “I’m just waiting to hear back from my attorney.”
Darugar said the bureaucratic delays have had a significant impact on him financially.
“The store is my only bread and butter,” Darugar said. “I’m waiting for some good news.”
Darugar said he is grateful for the South Belt community’s support throughout the ordeal.
“My customers are very loyal to me,” Darugar said. “They’re my family. I spend more time with them than I do my actual family.”
The date for the Nov. 3 runoff election has been set for Saturday, Dec. 12.
Local races to be decided include mayor, controller and four at-large City Council seats.
The Houston mayor’s race will be a runoff between state Rep. Sylvester Turner and businessman Bill King. In the Nov. 3 election, Turner received 31 percent of the vote to King’s 25 percent.
The race for city controller will be a runoff between Bill Frazer and Chris Brown. In the Nov. 3 election, Frazer received 31 percent of the vote to Brown’s 25 percent.
The At-Large Position 1 runoff is between Mike Know and Georgia Provost; the At-Large Position 2 runoff is between David Robinson and Willie Davis; the At-Large Position 4 runoff is between Amanda Edwards and Roy Morales; and the At-Large Position 5 runoff is between Jack Christie and Sharon Moses.
Early voting will begin Wednesday, Dec. 2, and continue through Tuesday, Dec. 8.
For information, visit www.harrisvotes.org.
City Council voted Wednesday, Nov. 18, to approve a $3.4 million contract to equip Houston Police Department officers with body cameras.
District D Council Member Dwight Boykins, who represents much of the South Belt area, led the charge among his colleagues in pushing for the measure.
“I believe body cameras throughout the City of Houston are definitely needed now,” Boykins said. “They will help to ensure the safety of the officers and the community. This issue is too risky to keep delaying the process.”
Prior to the Council vote, Boykins hosted a round-table discussion on the issue on Monday, Nov. 16, with community members, HPD Chief Charles McClelland, NAACP members, a representative from the mayor’s office, Council members Michael Kubosh and C.O. Bradford and Pastor James Nash.
The measure passed with an 11-4 vote, with District E Council Member Dave Martin, who also represents the South Belt area, also voting in favor of it.
Council members Mike Laster, C.O. Bradford, Michael Kubosh and Brenda Stardig are all on record as being supportive of body cameras but voted against the measure out of concerns that community groups had not had significant input and that the policy for storing the video data had not yet been finalized.
The vote had already been postponed once, and a second motion to delay it failed after an impassioned plea from Boykins, in which the council member referenced the recent killings of unarmed black teens at the hands of police.
“Let’s tell all these kids who lost their lives because there was no camera that we have an opportunity to vote on it, and we want to push it back for 30 days,” Boykins said. “If a young black man or Hispanic man is shot and there ain’t no cameras, and we passed on it, that’s (expletive). We need to vote on this thing.”
HPD will purchase 4,500 cameras and will start to issue them to officers in the Central Patrol division within the next 90 days. All officers are to be equipped with the body cameras in the next 12 to 18 months.
Boykins hosted a community meeting at the Sunnyside Multi Service Center on Saturday, Nov. 21, to discuss the need for body cameras, the implementation of the cameras and to gather input from residents regarding policies for the cameras.
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