What is Houston’s best body of water? Here’s where you get to vote!
New to the Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate this year, the Best Body of Water category aims to discover the repository of liquids in the greater Houston area that is most Swampies-worthy (whether or not it’s swamp-worthy). What qualifies a nominee to be considered for this honor? Only that it was selected from your suggestions. Now it’s time to pick the winner.
Cast your vote in the comments section below, by email, on Facebook, or through Twitter — you can even vote 4 times, once using each method! Please note that this year we’ll only be counting votes submitted via the first 2 methods from voters who’ve signed up for the Swamplot email list. (If you haven’t done so already, you can join it through this link or the box at the top left of this page.) A more complete explanation of the voting rules is available here.
When you vote, don’t forget to explain your choice — that’s what makes it fun! And just make sure you get all your votes in by the voting deadline: 5 pm on Saturday, December 27th.
Here are the official nominees:
1. Hermann Park. “Let’s define ‘body’ as a grouping, so we can get all the waterworks in and around Hermann Park collected as a single candidate — including the Mecom Fountain at the intersection of Main St. and Montrose Blvd. (at left). There are lots of cool fountains and water features throughout the area, including the rat-a-tat Gulf Coast-themed waterfall in front of the Museum of Natural Science. Just driving down Fannin you can see 3 fountains from your car. But get out and have a stroll around the reflecting pool, over to the spray area in the children’s play area, and McGovern Lake. Just thinking about all the water attractions is enough to cool you off on a hot summer day.”
2. Gibbs Recreation Center Swimming Pools, Rice University. “Over
8,000 8,000,000 800,000 gallons of Olympic-sized aquatic goodness, in use by swimmers ranging from little 6-year-old tadpoles to craggy old master swimmers in their eighties, with the Rice students and Rice women’s varsity team in between, from 6 am to 8 pm every day, outside, exposed to the elements, winter and summer. Competition or leisure. It’s hard to think of an outdoor venue that gets more people wet in Houston, every day.”
3. Standing Water on the 200 Block of Cordell St., Brooke Smith. “The city says it’s the property owners’ problem, and property owners point out that the block is not graded to any nearby storm drains. Rainwater collects along both curbs and stays for days. Vehicles drive down the center of the street to avoid the unknown depths. Tractor-trailers serving the meatpacking business on the street chew up the asphalt to make craters as deep as 10 inches. When the ‘lake’ is high, Gourmet Ranch (the meatpacking company) has to put out a traffic cone in the middle of the worst pothole to warn its drivers (and others) of the depth of the abyss. Eventually the water evaporates and the perilous pavement is dry . . . until the next rain. Every 3 or 4 years the city comes and slops some asphalt on the potholes — lather, rinse, repeat. One benefit created by this mess is the temporary wetlands: mosquitoes and tadpoles and frogs and night herons grace the grimy puddles with some biology. Let’s consider this nominee as a stand-in for poor street drainage throughout the city.”
4. Houston Ship Channel. “It’s 100 years old this year, and its impact on the region’s economy cannot be overestimated. Buffalo Bayou, from which this industrial juggernaut was dredged, is the reason that Houston was sited where it is. (We’re at the furthest point upstream that waterway that boats could be hauled in 1836 — though until the channel was dug, getting here wasn’t such an easy ride.) The construction of the Ship Channel is why we’re still here. Without the Ship Channel, we’d all probably be somewhere else. Plus, the Galveston Bay portion of the 30-mile-inland journey offers the Houston area’s best surfing.”
5. Brays Bayou. “Sure, our metropolis is nicknamed the Bayou City, but Houston’s bayous remain an underappreciated resource. With manmade ‘reefs’ growing below the surface from the agglomeration of more than 100 abandoned cars, for example, Brays Bayou should qualify as one of the nation’s largest urban fisheries; it is, in fact, the site of the state record for the largest Plecostomus ever caught with a fly rod. The waterway’s role as a multivalent underwater landfill is similarly little noted. Fortunately, the vibrant local habitat that flourishes below the surface of this waterway and of neighboring Sims Bayou doesn’t appear to be endangered by any HPD dredging activity.”
6. Potholes on Richmond Ave. “Some are probably big enough to count toward stormwater detention. All cars that pass here: beware.”
7. Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve, 5300 Gasmer Rd. “When not serving as a detention pond, it’s also a pleasant home for wildlife and native plants. It provides a destination for all the stormwater that would normally flood nearby streets and homes in the Westbury area.”
8. Underground Parking Garage, Calais at Courtland Square Apartments, 3210 Louisiana St., Midtown. “When it flooded on August 1 of this year, it provided yet another reminder of why we don’t do basements here.”
9. Pop-Up Lakes on Freeway Feeder Roads. “If Houston’s streets serve as important parts of the city’s stormwater drainage system, we should also credit the city’s freeway feeder roads, ramps, and underpasses for their role in providing spontaneous flood-time recreation and entertainment, with the best experiences often featured on teevee news. So many of these are prone to flooding each time it rains — from hurricane-level storms to any good, quick soaking.”
10. 40-Acre Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Needville. “The best picnic spot in the Houston area is under the oak trees next to the lake. Egrets, herons, ducks, spoonbills, and so on call it home. The lake is slowly being choked by invasive water hyacinth, which serves as an important reminder of our stewardship obligations over our natural spaces. But even with the invader, this is still the place you take guests from out of town and do not get the silent parenthetical ‘for Houston’ appended when someone says, ‘Wow, this is really nice.'”
“You can reliably see alligators swimming around the fishing dock and get as close to them as you would ever need to. In the spring, you can easily see a dozen alligators while walking the path that goes around the lake. The view from the observation tower over Pliant Lake is amazing.“
There you have ’em! And it’s time to pick a winner. Which one of these nominees deserves to be called the Houston area’s best body of water?
- How To Vote in the 2014 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2014 [Swamplot]
Photos: Hermann Park Conservancy/Fred Rogers (pedal boats); Flickr user Texas.713 (Mecom Fountain; license); ashinton1 and Al Thomas (Gibbs Center); Ms. Brooke Smith (Cordell St.); Russell Hancock (Houston Ship Channel at East Loop 610); Houston Walks (Brays Bayou); Click2Houston (submerged Taurus); CW39 NewsFix (Richmond Ave pothole); Luz (Willow Waterhole; license); KHOU and Click2Houston (Calais garage flooding); KPRC (flooding at Clinton Dr. and East Loop); Tom Haymes (40-Acre Lake; license)