Roger Martin and Life in the Loop

 

Sept. 25, 2009

Loco-Motion on Houston Railroads

Tour of Houston Railroads

Many thanks to our friend Paul Martin for a ticket to the Rice Design Alliance’s recent Freight Rail Tour.  This trip gave a fascinating look at Houston railroads - the industry that helped he city grow into today’s economic powerhouse.

Freight railroads were once thought to be fading away -- but current traffic is rebounding, thanks largely to international container shipping.  Freight trains move cargo just as quickly as eighteen-wheelers, but they do it more safely, cheaply and efficiently.  A train is one of the “greenest” choices among the various transportation modes.  Each train can keep as many as 200-300 truck off our highways, while expending a tenth of the fuel and reducing smog-producing pollution by two-thirds.  And with 2,200 trains moving through Houston each week, that’s a huge savings in labor, fuel and pollution.  Now imagine what will happen when the newly-widened Panama Canal re-opens in 2014.  The Port of Houston (and its connecting railroads) can expect to be busier than ever!

So what is being shipped on these increasingly numerous freight trains?  And why should we care?  Trains carry the stuff of our American Dream – the concrete and lumber to build Houston’s houses; the energy to heat and cool them; the TV’s and VCR’s to furnish them; the grain to bake our daily bread; the t-shirts we wear; and the plastics for our children’s toys.

Freight trains are an essential component of our global supply chain – but as our city grows, the co-mingling of railroads and residential neighborhoods causes increasing problems.  Overpasses or underpasses can keep train and auto traffic separate, but they are expensive and disruptive to build.  Safety and noise can be a divisive issue as well.  In 2006, a three-way effort by the City of Houston, the City of Bellaire, and the City of West University Place created a “quiet zone” inside the West Loop.  Throughout this zone, the three cities provided advanced safety features at each street crossing.  In return, the railroads silenced the whistles that warn of oncoming trains.  But none of these solutions is simple, cheap or quick.

Which means we need to be a whole lot smarter about an issue that is critical to our city’s economic future.  For more information, see…

  • Citizens’ Transportation Coalition -- www.ctchouston.org
  • Houston Region Freight Rail Study -- www.houstonrailplan.com
  • “Economic Crossroads”, by Carolyn Feible, Houston Chronicle, September 1, 2009.

And then watch the Houston railroads grow!

Ann Martin

Roger Martin Properties

Sept. 24, 2009

Pruning Your Fall Foliage

Fall is the time for pruning your trees and shrubsIt’s been a long hot summer in Houston! Cooler weather and fall colors are here! Now is a great time to get back into the yard and enjoy gardening and caring for your plants, trees and lawn.  It is time for your fall pruning!

Fall lawn care is important as it gets the grass ready to go dormant during our winter months. This is a good time to fertilize with a product that promotes root growth while combating brown patch and fungal diseases which affect St. Augustine grasses.

Your trees and shrubs will be happy with a “haircut” at this time of the year. Most trees go dormant during the cooler months of the year so this is a good time for pruning old growth and shaping the new growth.  Pruning the lowest branches on the trunk will force growth into the crown, encouraging your tree to grow strong and tall.  Depending on the size and type of tree, at the tree’s maturity, you want to see ten feet of straight trunk, topped by gently arching branches.

We are fortunate to know many good landscaping companies who can lend a hand with questions or perform the work for you. If you would like some help with your fall pruning, please give me a call.

Enjoy the cooler weather!

Roger Martin

Sept. 4, 2009

Houston - Best Cities To Earn A Living

Houston is Best City to Earn a LivingForbes.com has just named Houston as one of the Best Cities to Earn a Living.  See the quote below...

September 3, 2009

For the exasperated job-seeker to whom employment opportunities seem bleaker than ever, salvation may lie in the Lone Star State. Texas, home to dozens of energy heavyweights and nearly as many innovative small companies, has three of the best cities to earn a living: Dallas, Houston, and Austin.

When taking into account the cost of living, strength of industry, economists' predictions for the future state of employment and, of course, salary, these are some of the best U.S. cities in which to take home a paycheck..."

Fracesca Levy, Forbes.com

To read the full article, click here.

Aug. 25, 2009

Houston's Real Estate Market - It's Baaaack!

A free Market Snapshot Report monitors real estate activity.

Yes, the kids are back in school. But that’s not the only thing that’s different!  Our real estate market is back!

Our market in West University Place has gotten REALLY active in the last couple of weeks. Houses that sat around for months (or even years) are now under contract. And new listings are coming on the market daily.

And who are these buyers? Some are folks transferring in or out of town, of course. But more importantly, we are seeing local residents trading up and down within the city. That is the single most optimistic yardstick I have seen since the mortgage crisis hit.

So if you (or anyone you know) have been sitting on the sidelines waiting and watching – you might want to reconsider. Things are moving fast right now. To monitor the new activity, just go to my website at www.rogermartinproperties.com and sign up for a free, individualized real estate Market Snapshot Report (shown above).

Roger Martin

Aug. 25, 2009

West University Team Wins Little League World Championship!

The 2009 Little League World Championship Team from West Unviersity Place

When it comes to parades, I am a bigger kid than any of you!  So you can count on me to be putting out the West U Rotary flags to line the parade route for the winners of the 2009 Little League World Championship!

As most of you probably know by now, this West University Place team of 14, 15 and 16-year old local boys is coached by Dean Doxakis.  The Senior Division All-Stars defeated teams from around the world to earn their title in Bangor, Maine.  What an accomplishment!

Our home-town parade starts at 6:30pm at University and Rutgers, and ends at University and Auden.  There will be flags, floats, a West University Place fire truck, and (of course!) the 2009 Little League World Championship team!

Be there or be square!

Roger Martin

Aug. 25, 2009

Bank of Houston Salutes Roger Martin

Larry Massey and Roger Martin prepare real estate loan documentsMany thanks to the Bank of Houston, who graciously acknowledged Roger Martin on page 9 of the August 25, 2009 Village News.  The text says...

Larry Massey, Executive Vice President, works with Roger Martin (right), Roger Martin Properties, to assist one of Roger's clients in a home purchase. Bank of Houston-Medical Center is happy to salute Roger Martin this month for his extraordinary effort in helpimg West university area home buyers.

Roger, good job keeping the local real estate market moving.

Larry Massey bills himself as a “relationship banker”.  Like me, he believes that superior customer service leads to long-term business. Yes, we are sitting in my conference room in this photo. I ask you, when was the last time you had a banker willing to bring YOU the papers you need to sign?  That is the kind of service Larry delivers.

Thank you Larry Massey and the Bank of Houston!

Roger Martin

July 1, 2009

Surviving the HEAT WAVE in West University Place

100 degree heat is giving us a heat wave in West University Place, TX.

July is upon us!  And we here in West University Place are doing our best to survive the resulting heat wave.

As a real estate professional, I like to give my clients this important heat wave survival tip:  Don't overload your air conditioner in this extreme weather!  Most residential air conditioners can only cool a maximum of twenty degrees.  This means that during hundred-degree heat, your home may only cool down to around eighty degrees.  That is as good as it gets.  Don't make the mistake of turning the thermostat "way down".  Typically that just freezes the unit and causes damage.  Lower the thermostat a few degrees at a time until you reach a comfortable temperature.

If you need a licensed heating and cooling expert, please give me a call! My rolodex has a solid group of skilled vendors to help you survive this heat wave.

Roger Martin

June 30, 2009

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season

June inprepare for hurricane season in Texas.

On the Texas Gulf Coast, we all know what June means -- It is time to get prepared for hurricane season! Here are some tips from FEMA to help you plan. I have added a few of my own from recent experience!

  • Secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protections for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8" marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Have plenty of water and nonperishable food available.
  • Fill your car up with gas; have a full tank.
  • Find your flash lights and have extra batteries available. Better yet, purchase some wind up flash lights. Have candles and matches available too!
  • Fill up your bath tubs with water.
  • Stock up on good books to read and include a board game to entertain the kids!
  • If you have a power generator, do not use it in your house or garage.  Fumes often kill more people than the storm does.
  • And don't forget to plan for petcare!  Your pets need food and water, too.

For additional information go to www.FEMA.org. Hopefully this season will be a mild one for Texas!  But it is always best to be prepared for hurricane season.

Roger Martin

June 22, 2009

Fly the American Flag in West University Place!

Fly the American Flag in West University Place

You have probably seen the City of West University Place erupting in American flags several times a year.  Patriotic colors appear all over our neighborhood during the major flag holidays (Presidents Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Memorial Day) and for special events such as the Houston Marathon.

These American flags are provided by the Rotary Club of West U, both as a service to the community and as a way to fund the club's many community and education projects.  For an annual tax-deductible contribution of $50, club members place an eight-foot tall flag in front of local homes and businesses.  Currently more than 1,400 American flags fly proudly throughout our city and the surrounding neighborhoods.  After the holiday, club members remove the flags and store them until the next event.

If you would like to give your family and neighborhood this patriotic gift just drop a check by my offices at 6115-A Edloe or download the subscription form from the club website at www.westurotary.org. and go to Fund Raisers in the left column.

Thank you for supporting the Rotary Club of West U.

Roger Martin

June 7, 2009

CODE RED for West University Place

Code Red, a West University Place emergency notification service

I have just helped another neighbor sign up for the Code Red program sponsored by the City of West University.  So I am double-checking with all my friends to make sure they are aware of this valuable free service.

Throughout the Hurricane Ike recovery, Code Red called us regularly with advisories on the drinking water, trash removal, electrical repairs, availability of ice, etc.  The notices will go to cell phones, land lines, and email.  These calls have been enormously helpful to us during the restoration of critical city services.

If you would like to receive these updates, go to the City's homepage at http://www.westu.org/ and choose "Click here to Sign Up" for Code Red.

Please pass the word about this important city service to your friends and neighbors.

Thanks!

Roger Martin