Letter from the Executive Director
The West Dallas campus of The Center Serving Persons With Mental Retardation is in jeopardy. We need your help.
Dedication of West Dallas Campus,December 1966.
Harris Masterson and
Leopold Meyer at left.
As a friend of The Center you know that we have provided services to people with mental retardation for many years -— as far back as 1952. Over the years, the West Dallas campus has served thousands of Houstonians with disabilities. Today, this central location serves over 600 individuals on a daily basis and employs 221.
The City of Houston wants The Center to sign a new lease which would require us to abandon the West Dallas campus within three years so that the City can sell the property. In a recent meeting with Mayor Bill White, we shared the affects such a move would have on the individuals we serve. Following that meeting the Mayor again advised us that it is his intent to sell the West Dallas property to third parties and require us to vacate this property. Moving is not an acceptable option due to the cost of acquiring land and constructing new buildings, and the likely inability to find property centrally located to adequately duplicate the complex of services we presently provide on a daily basis.
We strongly believe that the City is acting outside their legal rights, and against contracts previously signed. Here’s why:
The Center occupies five acres of land on West Dallas which it acquired pursuant to a 99 year lease from the City executed in 1963. That lease REQUIRED the Center to build certain buildings which it did at a cost of several million dollars. This lease has been honored for over 40 years by seven mayors since its inception. The Center has dutifully performed each provision of this lease and is legally entitled to continue its occupancy of these five acres. The 99 year lease covering the five acres still has 56 years remaining on its primary term. The Center added another acre to these premises pursuant to another lease executed by the City in 1972. This lease was for a period of 30 years, but had a provision that the Center had the right to negotiate a renewal 30 year term when the first term ended in 2002. The City now refuses to sign the renewal lease which the City itself prepared and submitted to us. The Center has a legal right to that renewal.
West Dallas is a community of services where people with mental retardation receive residential, therapeutic, medical, dental, education and work training services. It is home to 182 residents and a place of work for caners, clients, staff and volunteers. It is also an operations center for the Gingersnaps program where volunteers bake and sell nationwide to raise funds for The Center, and it is a place where volunteers from corporations such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Technip come year after year to show their support.
It is a place of convenience and familiarity, a place where friendships that last a lifetime are formed and nurtured.
If The Center is forced to close the West Dallas location, our ability to provide the standard of services to which individuals and their families have been accustomed for over 40 years will cease.
We ask you to contact the Mayor and city council and ask them to stop the City from pursuing an agenda that would have the West Dallas campus fall to pieces. The Center must be allowed to continue its services and operations at the West Dallas location or hundreds of people with disabilities will be affected.
Please feel free to contact me via telephone or e-mail with your questions. 713-525-8401, firstname.lastname@example.orgVery truly yours,
Eva Aguirre, Executive Director
The Center Serving Persons With Mental Retardation