Carr fired from Heights Association for building wooden train without permission

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By Michael Sudhalter

Paul Carr, a lifelong Heights resident and civic leader, will end his longtime association with the Houston Heights Association next month after a disagreement with HHA leadership over the wooden train he built last month in Donovan Park.

The 74-year-old Carr, a former HHA president and the organization’s 1979 Citizen of the Year, was employed by the organization as its parks manager. The independent contract position paid $1,100 per month for Carr to take care of Donovan and Marmion parks.

Paul Carr

Paul Carr

Last month, Carr spent $5,000 of his own money to build a wooden train at Donovan Park for the children to enjoy.

HHA vice president of finance and operations Bill Baldwin said Carr was dismissed from his contract position because he didn’t ask permission to build the train.

“The train is a beautiful gift to the neighborhood and the Heights Association,” Baldwin said. “If he wants to remove the train, we’ll let him remove it. If he removes it, it’ll be because he wants to remove the train.”

Still, the board approved the donation of the train, accepted its maintenance responsibilities and decided to send an official letter of appreciation to Carr during its monthly meeting on Monday night.

“We appreciate the train, and everybody loves it,” HHA president Matt Bedingfield said.

Baldwin said there are insurance and safety issues regarding the train, which Carr disputes. Baldwin’s brother, John, will assume the park manager duties.

“We’ll maintain it in a way that’s compliant with our insurance policy and other structures in the park,” Baldwin said.

Bedingfield said the HHA has received clearance from its insurance company to allow the children to play on the train as the insurance issues are worked out; he said some of the issues are from the insurance company, while others are the board’s safety concerns regarding the train.

But both sides seem to agree that the train will remain in Donovan Park.

Carr said “there’s a 90 percent chance” the train will stay put because he wants all of the children in the Heights to enjoy it. He said he could move it to a church or daycare playground, but then only a few children will get the chance to enjoy it.

“For two years, they’ve been trying to get a campaign for me to voluntarily quit,” Carr said. “I built the train for the Heights kids, not the Heights Association.”

Carr said he and his wife, Mary, plan on attending an Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on Feb. 23, and after that, they won’t have anything to do with the association that he was a founding member of, in 1974.

Carr said he kept the parks clean during his tenure as parks manager and that his dismissal has had an adverse effect on the parks already, stating that the train now has graffiti on it.

“If this happened two weeks ago, I’d be down there right now cleaning the graffiti off,”  Carr said. “I’m the old Heights Association, and I clash with the new Heights Association. It wasn’t a total surprise. I’ve been real diligent in doing my job and keeping the park in good condition. They say because I didn’t ask permission, they have fired me.”


  1. Lin Chamberlain says

    It is just amazing how often politics and personal agendas begin to interfere with a wonderful gift by a DEDICATED public servant. Funny…was that a family member who is taking over that small paying JOB? Now isn’t that just a coincidence??? Anybody smell an odor here?

  2. Lindsey Michalak Kindall says

    I wonder if anyone can fire the Heights Association for stupidity!!!! Mr. Carr is a wonderful example for The Heights! I wish there would be more people like him in this world…it would be less screwed up.

  3. Sam VanBibber says

    Paul Carr came to my house in 1980 when I moved to the HEights in my home on Harvard. I joined the Heights Assoc. and attended meetings for a while and stayed connected for years to the association. He and Mary are such kind people and welcomed me and my husband to the neighborhood. This is a very strange and twisted story for someone as dedicated as Paul Carr is to the Heights. Thats’ almost as insane as if someone was to tell Mitch Cohen that he can no longer operate The First Saturday ARt Market, another great leader, businessman and promoter of The Greater Heights area. I’m saddened about this news.

  4. Erin Urban says

    This story saddens me deeply. What I see happening is a sense of community being slowly demolished. The train was bought and paid for out of Carr’s own pocket and now that he has built it, they fire him? Is there no shame in these people on the Association board? What greed and petty-mindedness! I find it particularly ironic that the Association doesn’t want to remove the train. If it was such an ‘insurance’ issue, they would have to remove it. Absolutely amazing. The train is wonderful and the kids love it. I don’t pretend to understand shallow people with no heart. I suppose Carr didn’t play their political games enough to satisfy them. Too bad that the Association is losing such a valuable member and contributor.

  5. John Fitzgerald says

    I would be hard pressed to think of folks that has contributed more to the quality of life in the Heights than Paul Carr together his wife Mary.

    I believe these antagonists in the Houston Heights Association need to do some serious interspection to determine if they have allowed hurt pride to set in motion events that will hurt the both the HHA and the community for years to come.

    Humility is the ability to give up your pride and still retain your dignity.

  6. Heights Residence says

    OK GUYS…lets get back to reality. As a former board member, I hope current HHA board members include those who love there neighborhood and appreciate the good that volenteers do for the community. Sounds like the board members may have lost site the original intent of the HHA. Respect and work with those who improve the neighborhood, don’t fire the hand that offers improvement. Maybe current politics and personal agenda are now the new driver of decisions! THIS IS WHY I AM NO LONGER A MEMBER.

  7. Greg says

    Mr. Carr should have gotten permission before the installation. But I’m not sure why that should have resulted in his firing. No harm, no foul.

  8. C.L. says

    I’ve long held the belief that the Heights Assoc had zero sway with any local authority over anything, and generally speaking, had a long term condition of cranail-rectal inversion… and lo and behold, it seems I’m correct. If I were Paul, I’d return to the park with my cordless drill and socket set and begin dismantling the train. Paul, if you’re reading this, let me when know when you’ll be there ’cause I’d be happy to help you out.

  9. elseed says

    Wow these Heights association people are a bunch of Douche Bags…you would think they would be shaking Paul Carr hand…I guess all the idiots with suburban attitudes don’t just live in Katy or Cypress…Paul Carr you’re the man!!! Heights association people go eat a ….!

  10. Kevin Southwick says

    The Heights Association has long been the “Heights Busybodies.” They think that they should control the private property of everyone in The Heights. They pushed for zoning and a historic district. Yes, they have done many good voluntary neighborhood things, but pushing out Paul Carr because of a train he donated to kids is quintessentially HA behavior. I encourage other Heights homeowners (like myself) turn in their membership cards and defend the Heights by defending private property rights and volunteerism.

  11. Marc & Wendy Fowler says

    Very sad indeed that a wonderful and long time member of the heights community has been pushed out of the very organization he helped form so long ago. The train is amazing and appreciated by all who use Donovan Park. Apparently, it served well as a Red Herring to accomplish a politically motivated agenda. I’m curious if this dubious episode will eventually affect Mr. Baldwin’s reputation and possibly even his realty business. The Heights is still a very close-knit community that values people who love and care for Heights treasures as does Mr. Carr. Very sad indeed!

  12. VWGTO says

    It is unfortunate when ego hinders such groups, but is often ego and self-interest that drives people to volunteer their leadership. An unfortunate part of the bargain…

  13. HHA member says

    Mr. Carr did a wonderful thing for Donoavan Park and the Heights by building the train. I don’t see how it could be that big of an insurance issue if they are allowing children to play on it and it will stay. There is an issue with a family member getting the job and already not keeping up (with the graffiti). I wonder if the position will get a raise in salary, too. Shame on the Heights Homeowners Association.

  14. Gambrill says

    This is ridiculous. Paul Carr is wonderful and so is the train. Will seriously consider renewing (or not) our HHA membership. Boo!

  15. Joe R Martin says

    OMG, are you kidding me? Did they have their head stuck in the sand during all the days Carr was building the train ON HEIGHTS BLVD!!??

    Too bad for the kids of the Heights. They have lost a true neighborhood champion and for all the wrong reasons.

    Joe R. Martin
    Born Heights Hospital 1961 and big fan of Paul & Mary

  16. says

    Many of the things dipstick bill is touting in this video, Paul did, does, or is involved in.

    Anyone with access to BeenVerified should find it quite intersting about brother Jon, who will now be maintaning the parks where your children plan.

    Nepotism rules over child safety.

    Thanks Paul and Mary for all you have done for the neighborhood.

  17. Cheryl Hensley says

    Please God let the short sidedness of a person be filled with love and compassion. May the grace for humanity fill and encompass the streets of the Heights and the love of all who visit Donovan Park. May the positive in people shine through and may the deed of those who want to serve be just. Please allow the good to flow like a running child filled with laughter and joy.

    The Train has breathed wonderful life into the Park. May the squeals of laughter fill the train completely for many, many years to come.

  18. Shak says

    Yeah, it smells like rotten eggs and sour grapes. Funny how the BaldwinHHA junta fires the hero, but wants to keep the hero’s “problem train” gift! That is just odd and smelly. Sure, Mr. Carr probably should have gotten the permission slip. But, it sounds like the shallow minded powers would have denied it and thereby would have denied our kids a wonderful gift. Mr. Carr deserves accolades and public acknowledgement from the HHA, not a pink slip. And the rotten smell gets worse as the nepotism occurs in hiring Mr. Carr’s replacement. Sounds like some board members need pink slips. Hopefully the membership will replace them with the next set of ballot slips.

  19. 25 year Heights owner says

    This is what happens when business interests (realtors) who do not live in the Heights proper take over the board. I have not been a member for years and will not likely ever join again as long as a realtor or a builder, not a resident, is the president. What once was a great neighborhood because of the neighbors is now the cash cow for businesses. How handy that Mr. Baldwin’s brother was available…dripping sarcasm. Thanks for your dedication, Mr. Carr.

  20. sad resident says

    Very Sad. Thank you Pall Carr for such an outstanding gift. My children were of the first to get to play on the train the day you finished. They came home so excited and full of stories especially to have had the pleasure of meeting you.

  21. Not impressed says

    The HHA has been changing for the last few years. It has become very political and only cares about how much money it can raise through the home tours and other events. Then it hordes the cash in the bank. Yes they do maintain a lot of properties in the neighborhood but they have become quite greedy and very proud of themselves. They have also allowed a select few to make the decisions, some are board members and some are good at raising money. They are very good at squeezing out long time volunteers like Paul. What Paul already knows is that there is life in our great neighborhood without the HHA. I would encourage others to return their memberships. The HHA needs the neighborhood more that we need them.

  22. BBB says

    We live in a neighborhood that should APPLAUD and praise work like what Mr. Carr did – work that is unselfish and for others. I will not be donating or paying any more dues and I look forward to penning a letter or FIFTY to Mr. Baldwin and the board. Then to be so brazen as to install your brother to take Mr. Carr’s place? Come on Bill Baldwin, have a little dignity. You no more deserve your position then Mr. Carr deserves to lose his. As members of this community, we have the right to call and write and email this “Board” and let them know how we feel. The quotes Mr. Baldwin has in this article come off as sounding extremely arrogant and self serving. I can’t wait to see how this all turns out for you, Bill.

  23. HeightsResident says

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this is just a payback simply because Paul Carr spoke up about the craziness of the historical district and the nutty bungalow dwellers, most of whom are tenants anyway. Paul has done a stellar service of helping the Heights. He called out the “whiners” many times, those who didn’t want new construction, those who didn’t want the WalMart (we now have great shopping!!!), those who didn’t want the feeder roads (now we can finally access the freeway) and so on and so on. Paul, hold your head high. We can still win the fight against the historical district wack-jobs!!!

  24. J W Hill says

    Mr Paul Carr, since they (Pettit) is not greatful we will be happy to take it and our 100 little guys and gals will enjoy it every day and we will keep it in good repair. We will also assist in moving it. Let’s roll!

    J Hill

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