One of the Houston Heights Association’s goals for the year is to enhance the annual events it’s best known for, ranging from its home tours to its bicycle rally, group president Dave Steitz says.president Dave Steitz says.
“We always can do better,” Steitz said. “We’re always willing to do things that will make an event a better experience and value for our members.”
This fine-tuning process is one of three primary projects for the group in 2013, with the others being to continue renovations to the historic fire station and to increase outreach to current and potential members.
To enhance its events, the nonprofit association will ask committee heads to evaluate annual programs for participation, timeliness and financial effectiveness, among other factors.
“We also want to hear from participants and members and guests about what they like and don’t like,” Steitz said.
The association’s events include spring and holiday home tours, a fun run in June and the Heights Bike Rally and Scavenger Hunt in October.
As for the fire station, the building at 107 W. 12th St. represents multiple chapters in Heights history. The station went into service in 1915 and also served as city hall and jail for the community, which was a municipality until it was annexed by Houston in 1918. The building then served as a Houston fire station.
Owned by the association and rented for weddings, parties and other special occasions, the 7,000-square-foot building is undergoing a multiyear renovation project.
This year, the association will focus on the station’s second floor, Steitz said. Work will include floor and lighting replacements.
The second floor has been used to store the association’s archives, a massive collection of documents and photos.
Members will sort through the materials and creating digital copies to back up the originals.
“I want to be in on some of those sessions,” Steitz said. “There’s a treasure trove of stuff there.”
The fire station will remain in use and available for rentals, Steitz said, but the second floor will be unavailable for about two months during the summer.
In previous phases of its multiyear renovation project for the station, the association replaced the building’s brick, painted, added new mortar to the joints and patched the stucco. In 2012, the association focused on the interior first floor.
“It looks really nice,” said Lindsey Lee, who has served as the association’s president during 2012. “We added doors so it looks consistent for the period when it was built.”
Through outreach efforts, the association will work to get a better feel for what current and potential members are seeking. Membership includes about 1,500 Heights residents and several hundred business members.
Association leaders also will strive to better communicate what the association offers.
“The main benefit that members and prospective members alike may be missing is the opportunity to meet and know their neighbors,” said Steitz, adding that the association’s events and volunteer activities can be the gateway to making those connections.
“Often we become so focused on the event itself, we forget the great opportunity it is to meet new people of like mind and interests. In the coming year, I see an opportunity to emphasize this benefit to a greater extent.”
The association’s efforts follow a productive 2012, Lee said.
“Both of the home tours were wildly successful. The fun run was well-attended, along with the bicycle rally.”
The association devoted energy to caring for the Heights Boulevard esplanades in 2012 and started replacing trees lost to the 2011 drought. Members maintained Donovan Park and the rose garden at 20th Street, as well.
Also last year, the association’s education committee presented a half-day art workshop for Sawyer Elementary School pupils.
“When I was a kid, I never would have gone to school on a Saturday,” Lee said. “I was just stunned. There were 150 to 200 kids there.”
The association also has been monitoring the situation at Yale Street Bridge south of Interstate 10. The Texas Department of Transportation reduced the bridge’s load limit last year.