Houston Heights Association Cans Board Member Who Built a Beloved Playground Train
If you've driven through the Heights recently and thought, "Gee whiz, I wish this historic, beautiful neighborhood could become really douchey," you're in luck: The nonprofit Houston Heights Association, whose volunteers once created a jogging trail, planted trees, and created playgrounds, just dismissed a 74-year-old founding member and former president for installing a wood train in Donovan Park without asking permission first.
Unauthorized trains are no laughing matter.
Paul Carr says he spent about $5,000 of his own money to build the four-car structure, which has been a big hit with kids and, at the time of its installation in December, received glowing media coverage. Certain people reading those articles may have thought "Wow, the Heights seems like a really close-knit community where folks go out of their way to help others. As a complete and utter douchebag, I hate that. They need to fire that guy."
Fortunately, HHA president-elect Matt Bedingfield and Bill Baldwin, vice president of finance and operations, are here to make sure the voices of the Douche Contingent are heard.
The firing of Carr, a retired fireighter and former fire department chief, from his job as property manager, was first reported by The Leader's Michael Sudhalter on January 23, and the blowback was immediate. After all, a lot of long-time Heights residents knew Carr and his wife Mary, who bought their Heights home in 1961. Carr led the volunteers who planted 312 oak trees in the neighborhood, as well as the construction of the popular jogging path, which was named in Carr's honor.
According to the article, Baldwin said the HHA's board was first concerned about insurance issues, but that ultimately the insurance company cleared the train (probably when they discovered it was made out of wood and was not an actual locomotive). The article also pointed out that Baldwin's brother John would replace Carr as property manager.
We would've thought that sentient beings with working brains could anticipate criticism for firing a guy who first served his city by becoming a firefighter, and then served his community through volunteer work. We would've thought Bedingfield and Baldwin would've had a statement ready to go that very day, and would have had no problem defending their decision -- after all, maybe the Leader article was inaccurate, or didn't tell the whole story. Because, really, what kind of people would behave that way?