How a Botanical Garden Would Fit on the Gus Wortham Golf Course and Other Tidbits from Last Night’s Hullabaloo

Public Forum on Gus Wortham Golf Course, E.B. Cape Center, 4501 Leeland St., Houston

A reader sends in a report from the “spirited debate” at Monday night’s public forum at the E.B. Cape Center on Leeland St., covering proposed plans to convert the Gus Wortham Golf Course at Wayside Dr. and Lawndale St. in Houston’s East End, just north of Idylwood, into a new botanical garden: “Councilman Robert Gallegos, Mayor Parker, and many other politicians were there, as well as a standing room only crowd of those for the botanical garden (wielding the provided flowers), and for saving the golf course (fanning themselves with provided Gus Wortham fans). The crowd was encouraged to be quiet to keep things running smoothly, but this didn’t always happen, as many folks were pretty passionate about their opinions. Those wanting to save the golf course had at least double the presence of the garden folks, and were admittedly louder as things went on.”

Our correspondent, who claims to support renovating the existing golf course and putting a botanical garden elsewhere, notes that an earlier proposal in which the 150-acre site just west of Brays Bayou would have been shared by a 9-hole golf course and a new garden in the northern half has been scrapped. Houston Botanic Garden president Jeff Ross showed the latest “rough draft” of the proposed garden plan. Here’s a screen-shot photo:

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Preliminary Plan of Proposed Botanic Garden at Site of Gus Wortham Golf Course, Idylwood, Houston

“Driveways to Wayside are not shown,” the correspondent notes, “because of some city study that has yet to be done, but no golf course will remain. An 11-acre parking facility will now face Carrillo Elementary and the shopping centers along Wayside. [Ross] also noted the railroad tracks on the North side of the park would be a disturbance, and would require the construction of a bridge over them so the folks taking Metro rail could access the area.”

Shown in the plan’s southeast corner: a 25-acre public park named after Gus Wortham.

A few more tidbits from our reader’s report: “The golf course was revealed to lose about $75,000 dollars annually, but this is paid for by the more profitable courses such as Memorial. Renovations are hoped to bring it back to its former glamor, and out of the red. . . . Both the funding for the golf course restoration of $11 million, or the Botanical Garden, at over $40 million, would have to come from private enterprise and donations: the city will be funding neither.”

Mayor Parker told the crowd that other locations were being considered for the botanical garden, including the Glenbrook Park golf course. But “the previously hoped for KBR site had been bought and was regretfully not an option.” Of the many attendees favoring keeping a golf course on the site, our correspondent notes, “few said the garden was a bad idea, but they did not want it on their golf course.”

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Tee’d Off

86 Comment

  • Get rid of that golf course and give us a real landmark in the East End!

  • How about an orange traffic cone? That would make a nice landmark. Do you live in the East End? I live on Wayside and Walmart has kept traffic tied up for months and continues to do so. I am sure a plan of this magnitude, provided the HBG can even pull it off, would tie up traffic on Lawndale and Wayside for years to come. Yeah. That works for me. NOT.

  • Ok, they tried to give the Eastside a gift and it’s obvious they don’t want it–fine–enough–just build it in Memorial, it will get have much better attendance and be in a much nicer part of town –let’s move on

  • This would be such a great addition. I love Gus Wortham but that old dog needs to be put out to pasture. Ill be honest though, I dont see the draw for a botanical garden. I try to imagine if we had that on the KBR site 1 mile from downtown. Now that would have been much more appealing.

  • Houstonians will always remain a pandora’s box to me. It’s a frekin’ golf course!! One that’s losing money!! Yes, losing money! Shouldn’t that be enough for those irrationally opposed to this to approve of improving its land use? Ok, so it’s “historical”….so the grass and holes have historical status? Give me a break! Those opposed to these beautiful gardens are shooting themselves in the foot and taking the rest of us sane folk in the East End whom support it, down with them.

  • @Joni. I’ve lived in the East End for 11 years and also own a business here. My great-grandparents moved to the East End in the 1930s and were business owners here as well. My grandparents and mother graduated from Milby.

    Do you live in Houston? There is traffic everywhere. And if you haven’t noticed, Wayside is U.S. Highway 90 and not a neighborhood street. There will always be cars traveling on a highway regardless of development. Sorry you can’t cope with reality or change…

  • I wonder how many of those who loudly claim to support the old money-losing golf course actually play there? If their interest was genuine, they would have found a way to fund its restoration years ago. It would be interesting to see their plan for coming up with $11 million. As for the Botanical Garden, there are numerous well-heeled Houstonians who are willing to make it a reality.

    @Shannon — since you are so knowledgeable, what part of the Memorial area do you suggest for the Houston Botanic Garden?

  • aren’t golfers a dying demographic these days? who do you think could be best utilizing this land 20yrs from now?

  • Ed, do you have any evidence that spending money on a botanical garden there would be more profitable than spending money on rehabilitating the golf course? I’ve played there and it’s pretty sketchy. If it weren’t in such poor condition I’d be inclined to play there more because it is one of the few urban courses that actually has some elevation changes. I just don’t see how (a) the golf course isn’t profitable, so (b) we should build a botanical garden there instead.

  • This is the dumbest and most hypocritical thing the neighborhood can do. A neighborhood full of people renovating historical homes and who brag of their bungalow’s history decide to bulldoze history for “progress”. A parking lot along Brays Bayou? That should add nicely to the current beauty of the bayou. A visitor center? That place will be a ghost town and the only people visiting will be those within a couple blocks so they can walk their dogs.

  • @Spencer: Your arrogance aside, there are plenty of legitimate reasons that so many East End residents turned out last night to oppose this project, and it is not because they “can’t cope with reality or change.” The project’s funding is very questionable, as are its ties to engineers and developers who stand to make a boatload of money while “the community” waits TEN YEARS for the first phase to be completed. Secondly, after the 9 hole course was summarily dismissed, the newest plans show a 2.5 acre public parking lot on the only side of this project that faces a wholly residential neighborhood. As a resident of that neighborhood, I am deeply concerned about the traffic, noise, and pollution it will generate after the years of construction are over. I would never buy a house located near the parking for the miller outdoor theatre parking because it is a complete disaster on weekends or anytime there is an event there, which the proposal for the gardens mentions many including weddings, corporate events, and quinceaneras. So why don’t you propose they build it next to your house, so you can reap all these wonderful benefits?

  • Obviously the garden should be in Memorial Park, where there is an abundance of land. Gus Wortham is a good tract of land for a gold course, and would likely make a little money if properly managed. It has a lot of history behind it and should be preserved for its heritage, like many courses are throughout the world.

  • from last night: lucky East End-there are two groups who are willing to spend thier money and the East end can have both: one wants to bring Gus Wortham to the club atmosphere of memorial park with its amenities and make it profitable (which will come with needed improvement) preserving its heritage and a golf course which is much used by the wider community and more used if Glenbrook is repurposed. And, most importantly there is the opportunity just a few miles away to utilize Glenbrook Golf Course for the first class botanical Garden Houston deserves-all to no cost to the citizens-all enriching the East End. Plus the neighborhood around Glenbrook is eager to have it. Everyone wins-it is not Gus or nothing for a Botanical Garden -is is just where to put it.

  • A botanical garden would be one of the best things to come to the East End in a while. Too bad all we’ll end up with instead is a golf course that continues to degrade. As for traffic, we’re within a 2 miles of downtown and in the trajectory of urban growth – it’s coming either way. Money (for widening roads and better transit options) follows money (investments in real estate and amenities).

  • I guarantee you that if the pro-golf group “wins,” they will spend the next 10 years trying, and failing, to raise money to refurb the GW course because golf is dying and the deep pockets are playing at Memorial and Hermann anyways. In that time, the course will fall further into disrepair, and then the City will get wise and sell the land to the highest bidder because Parks won’t be able to justify the loses. The East End (especially the neighborhoods around it, like Idylwood) will at that point lose control over its destiny.
    .
    Or the East End can take control over the destiny by working to obtain a game-changer development with a new (free) public park attached to it (the area that would have been the old 9-hole course). Traffic is a red herring, and the pro-golf side knows it.
    .
    This comes down to a small, but vocal, group who wants to keep what benefits them, versus a larger (but quieter) group who stand to benefit for potentially generations to come.

  • @LSM If you had bought a house next to where they ultimately built the parking for Hermann Park, you would have come out a wealthy person. One of the most desirable areas in the city now.

    To be honest, that’s my read on this situation: it’s an argument against gentrification that few are willing to say directly.

  • The citizens of the east end are overwhelmingly in favor of the restoration of the golf course
    The garden should be located elsewhere. And the city should not provide city property to a group that is elitist, underfunded and likely to fail. Numerous gardens exist in Houston area or are being developed.

  • How about a giant botanical garden/park at the site of the old Hardy Yards north of downtown? That site has been sitting empty for something like 15 years now.

  • I am rather new to the area, living in Forest Hill, immediately to the East of the Golf Course for 2 years, but I support its preservation. Several people at the meeting gave evidence of the Botanical garden groups poor financial history, it isn’t just the golf course that is losing money. They haven’t started building yet, but the Botanical folks have managed to use up $100,000 a year without turning a spade of dirt. Those in attendance were pretty calm until Mr. Ross suggested that among its many other benefits the garden would be a great place for Quinceaneras. His attempt to pander to the locals backfired with much disbelief. I really do appreciate him considering our side of town, many people wouldn’t, but he came across pretty out of touch.

    The place seems pretty historical to me, very few places in Houston have been so unchanged over the past 110 years. It has natural hills, and was indeed played on by Hughes, and many other elites of the past. The area grew around this course and the bayou. I wouldn’t want to be the one responsible for tearing up the place if the Garden turns out to be a flop. Apparently the city has promised to maintain the course, but they have failed, not the community. When the soccer complex idea was turned down the course was supposed to receive a city renovation then, which never showed up.

    It was said the garden would provide a couple dozen jobs (sorry, exact number on this eludes me), but like other botanical gardens would require several hundred volunteers. “Where will you get your volunteers? You certainly won’t get them here….we are working people” “We want jobs, which Gus Wortham provides!” were common sentiments.

    Around 80 people spoke, in what overall was a good show of patience and restraint. Mayor Parker started her speech saying she “didn’t care about Gus Wortham Park one way or another” but the people present certainly did. Hopefully the local voice was heard and will be genuinely considered.

  • The citizens of the east end overwhelmingly support the restoration of the golf course . The botanical garden idea is ill-conceived, underfunded and elitist. It should be built elsewhere if at all as there exist numorous gardens in the Houston area.
    The figures cited by the pro-garden city plamner in reference to the golf course losing money are inaccurate and based on 2012 when the data is available for 2013. In addition, no figures were provided as to how a fully restored golf couse would do.
    Finally if the botanica garden were sich a great idea why was it not developed in the 60s when the city devoted a portion of memory park for a botanical garden?
    The Houston botanical garden will be a failure.

  • Why not put the botanical garden at MacGregor Park? The east side has yet to be developed at all, and many acres can still be developed on the west side without encroaching upon areas already improved upon. It’s only about a mile from this site, it’s immediately adjacent to the light rail (without a rail crossing bridge), it’s also next to both 90 and the bayou, and the land is also already owned by the city. Having UH immediately adjacent would also be a plus. Improve the golf course and build a world class botanical garden–everyone wins.

  • @JD: “the deep pockets are playing at Memorial and Hermann anyways.” Far from it, my friend. Deep pockets aren’t playing on public courses.
    .
    If we decide on garden vs. golf based on cost per beneficiary of the space, the garden will win hands down even though it costs 4x. How many families will go out for a golf day vs. a walk through the garden?

  • Why is a botanical garden the only alternative to the golf course. Why can’t this just be converted to a “park”. This seems like it would be a gem of a public park.

  • Love the idea of a botanical garden. Love the idea of it being in the east end, but why does the east end have to sacrifice one of it’s plusses to get something good? Oh sure, Gus Wortham is losing money, but since when were parks supposed to be for profit ventures? And if you let it rot, like the city has, then of course it isn’t going to get the play it should. Would they even dare to suggest removing part or all of the course at Hermann or Memorial or out in west Houston. I doubt it. Of course they wouldn’t let courses in other parts of town get in the condition of this one. Also, the proponents are taking donations to get this done? I’m sorry, but why are they panhandling to get this? Do they have the money or not? It is also of note that District I is home to 80% of the homeless shelters, SRO & similar facilities, and the reason so many of those type facilities are crammed over there is because, supposedly, the land is so cheap. So if there is so much cheap land, go find some that isn’t so controversial to put this thing. Lastly, why not put it at the Glenbrook course? Of the two, isn’t it the less interesting layout? Treating Gus Wortham as some irrelevant thing to be tossed out is typical of the attitude city leaders have towards the east end as a whole.

  • hahahaha — someone who will remain unnamed posted that Hermann Park is where the people with “deep pockets” play golf. Someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  • How can traffic be a red herring? If this place can really draw 500,000+ visitors a year as advertised, and being extremely generous and saying that 100,000 of those would come via the light rail and non-existent “sky bridge”, that leaves 400,000 car trips a year, which even if you assumed would be spread out evenly over 365 days (which they obviously would not be), amounting to 1100 car trips a day. The Hermann park developers had the sense to put its parking in the middle of its acreage and the park space itself is bordered for the vast majority by hospitals, Rice, hotels, highrises, and other commercial – NOT a residential, deed restricted neighborhood. While I hope that the housing boom and lack of available properties on the west side of town continues to make Eastside values rise, I would have never bought here had I even heard a rumor that they were considering building this. The walmart was one thing – that was already commercial property (and I can tell you it has greatly affected the noise and traffic experienced on that side of our neighborhood). But this is park land that insulates our neighborhood on its northern border, which is now going to be paved over for a parking lot that will rival if not surpass the size of parking lots for your typical big box stores in the name of “better” green space. If this thing goes forward, I can only hope the developers will rethink the layout and not completely screw my neighborhood. Somehow I doubt it. But if it’s such a great idea, you are welcome to purchase my house and keep all this upside for yourself.

  • Interesting topic–it is one of the only areas of Houston with any kind of terrain so from an aesthetic stand point it would be a great choice as it is not too far from Downtown, The Universities, Museums etc……For those of you who doubt it would be an attraction, The Dallas Arboretum has a phenomenal draw of visitors
    and, if managed wisely, could be a tremendous asset to this city. Volunteers would not be an issue. I think Glenbrook just puts it too far off the beaten path just as if it were in Inwood Forest or Alief. We’ve all seen how the City of Houston cannot maintain anything–streets, parks, golf courses, its own facilities etc…..so the leap of faith would be believing that the City could restore the luster to the golf course to give it the seeds to prosper. And to the naysayer about a parking lot on the bayou, look at the diagram–it’s right off Wayside across from a school. I think it is an idea worthy of further study.

  • Yeesh, and we thought Heights bickering was bad!

  • Have any of you been to Mercer Arboretum? North near Intercontinental Airport? Harris County Pct 4, I think.
    Absolutely lovely free gardens with info, picnicing and hiking.
    And while being ‘out of the way’ it is popular – with locals, school groups, gardening and bird-watching and photog groups. It’s a wedding photo go-to spot.
    With every passing year, I am thrilled to find the place beautiful and, apparently, thriving.
    This garden could easily be as great.

  • @JT, look at the map again. The HBG main site parking is the one across from the school and the fiesta store. The parking for the public (i.e. free) park is the yellow blob on the map. As public parking, I would guess that will be open from dawn till dusk as most public parks are and probably be free parking unlike the parking at the HBG itself, since HBG will be charging admission. The yellow blob is located directly across a residential neighborhood, and is labelled as being 250% the size of the HBG parking. So I do know how to read a map and also know the geography of my own neighborhood. The parking should be all on wayside, which currently features the aforementioned store, school, and also a run down strip mall and fast food eateries, or along capitol which has some pawn shops, auto repair shops, and noisy railroad tracks. Putting the public parking for the public park on the residential side is a big Eff U to the residents here, who Jeff Ross and others have spent a long time courting.

  • Let’s not forget what happened to the Golfcrest Country Club nearby when they moved to Pearland. The golf course was turned into a HISD school bus maintenance facility. So when Gus Wortham is finally shut down by the city for lack of funding and the Botanical Garden is built elsewhere, that is about what the East End will get or worse. Makes the Walmart look like paradise…

    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Gulfcrest+%26+Fairway,+Houston,+TX&hl=en&ll=29.691869,-95.307877&spn=0.006136,0.008256&sll=29.691725,-95.306815&sspn=0.008677,0.016512&t=h&gl=us&hnear=Fairway+Dr+%26+Golfcrest+Blvd,+Houston,+Texas&z=18

  • I heard some say the botanical garden was for educational purposes for the surrounding area, to see how flowers and trees grow, etc. How about taking them to the cotton fields and talk to them about agriculture. How about a farm, have them milk a cow. Ok, I see now, they can’t do that. Well, let the City of Houston do this and have the mayor as the tour guide. Take them(maybe use Metro) along the bayous to show them how weeds and Johnson grass grows. That is good education. Maybe the mayor(being the tour guide) could tell them how the city maintains those weeds and Johnson grass. While on the tour tell how you how the city maintains the pollution in the water. That will be enlightening for a good written report in school. I pick on the mayor because I know the mayor is behind the garden, just like Gallegos. I was not surprised to have seen so few “Tiny Tims’ holding their flower. The majority want to keep the GOLF COURSE. The mayor doesn’t care one way or the other, what a mayor, cant stand up for the side that is right. Maybe we are not the side of town that voted for her.

  • I am a resident of the East End and my family would love to have a botanic garden within biking distance. We already frequent Discovery Green and would love to have another destination for a weekend picnic. We previously lived in Plano north of Dallas and saw what an incredible gem the Dallas Arboretum was and how people from all over the Metroplex went there. I can see how it would be difficult to embrace a botanic garden without experiencing one, it is up to Mr. Ross to convey that vision to the City of Houston.

    Check out the dallas arboretum’s website for an idea of what a botanic garden could be for Houston.
    http://www.dallasarboretum.org/

  • The mayor asked both sides, the Gus Wortham Friends and the Botanic Garden folks to present a business plan to her in a timely manner so that she can take it to council for a vote. She wants it over and done by the end of April.
    .
    She wants time lines, fund raising plans, renderings, the whole shebang.
    .
    The garden will be a private non profit. I don’t know anything about non profits but I would think that they would not have to answer to anyone but themselves, about anything. Maybe someone here can explain how all that works. But, there will be an entrance fee for this place. It will make money but for whom? Certainly not the city.
    .
    The small public park would be free but who would maintain it? That was not addressed last night.
    .
    Jeff Ross did play to the Hispanic community but it did not endear him to them. One man of color shamed him for having only one person of (any) color on their board. Another man called the whole thing a “land grab”. It was an interesting evening, mainly thanks to the various citizen speakers who used their one minute each to succinctly make their point.

  • FYI… Walmart hasn’t created traffic… the TxDot changes to Wayside at 45 have created traffic for the improvements made to the roads. Because Walmart came to the area the road has now been improved. The site they sit on is also an improvement from the rat infested haven for homeless where gunshots were regularly heard.
    Gus Wortham is the prime location for the botanic gardens. Putting it at Glenbrook may give the city a botanic garden but it will do nothing to create the economic development that the East End so sorely needs.
    All the people who are opposed to this talk about what “I” want. I care about what’s best for the community and that’s a botanic garden at Gus Wortham. That site hasn’t done anything to improve the community in it’s 100+ years. It’s time is up! Make way for an amenity that can revitalize the East End.

  • What a fucking mess–it reminds me of those lunitics that went nuts over HISD closing some underused, underperforming Ghetto HS–heaven forbid–when you get race involved in Houston just walk away—it’s always the same story –what ironic is they’re fighting to keep a golf course –the intimate white WASPY sport–I’m sure the hilarity of this is completely lost on this group –keep your old “historic” course –thosr the Westside will take it–happily

  • I am an Eastwood resident. Gus Wortham is a fine golf course–but few people benefit. The Botanic Garden is about the future, and about the East End becoming the very lively neighborhood it has always been meant to be. If GW is upgraded, there will indeed be a few more golfers, but not much else will change–and I recognize that is a positive to GW supporters. The Botanic Garden on the other hand will not only make money, it will transform the neighborhood around the light rail stop. This neighborhood has the “bones” (the street infrastructure, in terms of intersection density and the urban pattern along Harrisburg) to become THE transit-oriented neighborhood of Houston. It could rival the garden district of New Orleans, but with the inimitable funkiness only the East End can give it. The Botanic Garden needs to be on the light rail!

    And yes–the Botanic Garden will be an incomparable educational resource. And, oh by the way, did we say there will be a 25 acre PUBLIC park associated with the BG? There is no similar benefit with Gus, upgraded or not.
    It is my understanding that there will be free or reduced entry days for the Botanic Garden. I will work to ensure that is part of the deal, so that that ALL of our East End residents can enjoy this–ALL of Houston in fact! Our museums have something like that already.

  • The plan clearly states the Botanic Garden would LEASE the land from the city. How is that a land grab? I would venture to say 1% of East Enders have played that course so now all of a sudden it’s so damned imporant? It was shabby when I lived in Idylwood 20 years ago. As far as the racial composition of the Board, grow up! Stacking the board along racial lines doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the best working group. Plus, there might as well be a “destination” for that pointless rail line other than a series of auto parts stores and fast food chains.

  • Put the garden in Memorial park.

    for its size, Memorial PArk is underutilized.

    open up parking more. allow access to memorial park from Post Oak Dr and Briar Hollow. Build the Garden along Buffalo Bayou.

    Why the Botannical people cant see this is confusing to me.

  • The proposed Botanical Gardens would generate between $ 400-500 million for all the neighboring businesses on Wayside and Harrisburg. Millions of visitors can take the train from Downtown and be at the gardens in less than 5 minutes. No other amenity can attract 500.000 visitors to the East End. If we want to compete with San Antonio and New Orleans, Houston needs to offer first class entertainment near the Downtown. This area can become a Tourist Destination point.
    Although Gus Wortham no longer discriminates by race, it discriminates against non-golfers. Signs on the field read “Persons not playing golf are prohibited from entry to the Golf Course” It is not the oldest golf course in Texas. The oldest “18″ hole golf course is disputed between Beaumont and Gus Wortham. This golf course was abandoned for the past 100 years, this will not change in the next 100 years.
    The East End has about 200,000 people that did not know about this meeting. Can 150 persons decide what is good for the East End?

  • John Jacob for the win. He is exactly right and this is exactly the type of improvements the City should be getting behind. Hooking a botanical garden to the light rail makes Houston liveable, and enjoyable. I am excited for the East End. :-)

  • I agree Jarred—1,466 acres in Memorial and so much is just pine forest (well it used to be)– since most of the trees are gone now anyway, why not a Botanical Garden along the Bayou–it was bizarre to pic Gus Wortham anyway–it smacked of “Political Correctness”–look, they obviously don’t want it, they looked a gift horse in the mouth, most of those people want to Eastwnd to remain run down, gritty and cheap, it’s how they like it–they say gentrification as a code word for Anglo’s, they conveniently forget that most of that area was white to begin with. This whole proposal is dead, you could see the mayor recoil at the rancor–she’s done–now let’s focus on Memorial and get this awesome Botanical Garden built!

  • Mel don’t be excited–this thing is dead–Annise is done –it’s going to end up in Memorial, you watch.

  • @Shannon, the irony of your comment is that this course with its “waspy” sport is heavily used by people of color, while the people pushing the gardens tend to be white and affluent. The gardens will not be accessible via light rail until some ludicrous sky bridge is constructed to get over the industrial train tracks. And the lease is key – as soon as it becomes clear that HBG does not have the money to deliver this vision, the city will sell part or all of land off to urban living type 3 story stucco townhouse hellhole developers, who have already turned much of near-town East End into a depressing eye sore.

    I’d love to see how much the memorial folks would welcome 10+ years of construction to their park. Instead they think garden on the east side will educate “those brown folk” and teach them to eat better. It’s insulting, if you want it so badly build it in your neighborhood.

  • Annise was “done” along time ago. She’s just a policy wonk with no vision or leadership and I can’t wait to see her term end. I don’t think the issue is dead though. This group has been around for a number of years so I don’t think 150 NIMBYS are going to decide something that would benefit the entire City.

  • LSM you need to get a clue. Of course it will take years. Dallas Arboretum is still evolving after 29 years. Plants just don’t grow lush in a season. And all this construction you speak of looks to be far away from the perimeters of the grounds. How exactly is that going to be more disruptive than your next door neighbor mowing the lawn at 730am?
    I would welcome this in my neighborhood. What difference does it make whether the one’s “pushing” it are white, brown, black or Asian? It’s interesting that the Dallas Arboretum is a destination spot for Quincenera portraits, I guess
    the “brown folks” up there don’t have the same concerns. Has it ever occured to you that the topography of this land make it a great choice–it’s hardly about white folk being the man.

  • so I understand that they’ve had the community meetings now, but my question is at what point will Houstonians be able to say and determine where they would want a botanical garden? is this purely a neighborhood decision only intended for Gus Wortham with no feasibility or availability anyhwere else in the Houston area, or was it just targeted to Gus Wortham for now because of the financial failings of the golf course there?

    enjoy the back and forth “elitist” statements though. I’m quite positive both a botanical garden and a golf course are on about the same level of elitism with little no value to the majority of families in Houston. why not scrap both, and just build a simple park everyone could use equally and base the decision on maximum land utilization? I wonder if finding a basketball court in the East End is as difficult as finding one in the Montrose amidst all the empty tennis courts around here.

  • Gus Wortham will never become townhomes. Most of the site is in the 100-year floodplain. Besides no one wants to live THAT close to a Walmart. I wish FEMA would just buy out the rest of these NIMBYS already and make the East End a better place. Then we can build spill-over parking on their lots for all the swarms of gardeners flocking to the Botanical Garden :)

  • I live in the east end, play the course regularly, and am still on the fence about this.

    on the one hand, imo, the course is one of the few unique courses Houston has on offer that I can play at, and it has history.

    on the other hand, the botanical garden has the potential to get people to be brave about the east end and drive through what they are afraid of to come and visit. there are no guarantees of its success, and I personally am very happy with the east end in its current state. I don’t need/want it to end up like the Heights.

    It will in its own time end up just like the heights, and this golf course will be welcomed by the people who are new to the area. So for me, it’s not so easy to pick.

  • I agree it should be at MacGregor Park…plenty of Land a rail station. UH/TSU could play a part and its in an area with wide roads that could handle increased traffic!

  • “I don’t think 150 NIMBYS are going to decide something that would benefit the entire City.”

    JT, you obviously haven’t kept up with how the university line was killed by those people who live on richmond near 610. They pushed and forced a delay long enough that the funding didn’t come through. so yeah, 150 nimbys can decide something that would benefit the entire city.

  • I say MacGregor Park along with few others because if it is such a big issue with the East End and the Gus Wortham Course…we should move it to MacGregor. 1) Most dont know that all that unused urban land east of MLK Boulevard is part of the park…A VERY HUGE TRACT! 2) Major Arterial Roads to handle increased traffic (SPUR 5, OST, MLK) 3) Light Rail that can make that station more utilized and bring visitors by the masses! 4) Plenty of room for a parking lot and maybe even a nice museum/hotel combo! 5) UH & TSU proximity could possibly evoke some funding from the universities if they can use for research! 6) Gus Wortham stays in tact as historical golf course! 7) Tons of schools/universities nearby MacGregor which would easily provide the gardens with volunteers! MacGregor Park Botanical Gardens! Can we get it built by 2016 before Super Bowl and NCAA Final 4…like everything else were rushing to build here!

  • I was at the meeting on Monday and the assertion that Gus Wortham supporters outnumbered garden supporters by 2:1 is a gross exaggeration. It was nowhere near that unbalanced. Yes, I live in the East End and yes, I think this would be a great addition for us to have. A beautiful garden and park that can be used be everyone, not just the folks that want to play golf at this money losing course. We have golf courses all around the city but no Botanical Garden like this. Having it in the East End AND on the Metrorail makes the most sense. Not all change is bad!

  • JT, if you have $300,000 to your name, you have as much money as HBG has raised in 11 years for its $40million+ vision. Check their tax returns online. If HBG had even a couple million of donations in place, and had a plan that didn’t shift like the wind (up until a month ago, it was supposed to have a 9 hole golf course), it would be something to get excited about. But they don’t, and without hiring people who actually know what they are doing, and maybe deciding that paying their CEO 170k a year isn’t a good idea when they have no money, they won’t. In the meantime, the harsh reality for the people who still live here, unlike you, is that the city could lease it to HBG, determine that they haven’t met their fundraising requirements, and then sell it off to developers. And if you still lived in Idylwood, you would be concerned about an unfunded / underfunded public park being installed on your border. At spurlock park, which isn’t even on a major road as you know, it is not uncommon to find drug needles and see reports of car breakins during the daylight hours. So does a beat up golf course sound better than the uncertainty of turning over the land to people who have no funding and inadequate leadership? Yes, it does. If they get some money, THEN they should come back to the City for leasing.

  • looking at MacGregor park online and I love the location, but even if taking out MacGregor Street to utilize all the land I just don’t see it being feasible to have a botanical gardens on that plot of land. besides, it’s a vastly different situation than Gus Wortham as MacGregor already has a very nice park that can be well utilized by all groups. no way and no how would i give support to change up a great park for a pet project.

  • and I may be wrong, but how would HBG even be able to raise funding for this project without even having a proposal from the city?

    doesn’t the city have to first give it’s proposal for acceptance fo the project which would then allow HBG to go out and try to raise funding?

  • I live in the East End and was at the meeting. I’m embarrased that my fellow East End residents (mostly GW supporters) showed no respect towards city officials, BG supporters, and presenters, at times even laughing at the reality of how a BG can improve the quality of life. But I think they were just letting out their frustrations in empty city promises, reality of how much they are in the “hole” (pun intended) and their failure to raise the $11 million to repair and restore the golf course to it’s former glory. Sorry, but most golfers play on the West Side or the ‘burbs. It’s going to be very difficult for both supporters to raise their respective amounts with no city help. Good luck.

  • To everyone saying the HBG should go in the east part of MacGregor Park – the east end of MacGregor Park NO LONGER EXISTS. There was a reversion clause in the donation contract from way back when, that if the City didn’t do anything to improve that part of the park – which the City didn’t – then it would revert back to private ownership. This clause was exercised, and the property was then sold to UH. I seriously doubt UH would lease a portion of that land to HBG, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask.

  • @joel that is a good question. My understanding when involved (not as a party) in litigation regarding Metro contracts is that the proposal process is used for City-funded projects to solicit bids for work. This is to be entirely privately funded; the only reason that City land is being considered is for the cost savings. Otherwise the recently-sold KBR site would have been ideal (converting that nastiness into a beautiful garden), but there was no way HBG could raise the money to purchase that. It could be that the private donations just start rolling in once the City agrees to the lease, but will it be enough? Who on this thread is ponying up 6 or 7 figures to bankroll this thing? A gift is something that is free. This is not free, someone will have to pay for it.

  • Disclaimer: I actually live in the “East End, (specifically, Eastwood), and don’t play golf.

    The Mayor commented that she didn’t care one way or the other. Annise, if you don’t care, stay home. Dig it: Next time, get better advice/handlers. Otherwise, you look rather silly.

    The money “angle” on this thing is enough to make Lincoln F. Sternn blush. This is whole thing is simply a not-very-well hidden attempt to soften up the area for a major re-gentrification outpost. You’ve already bitten off more than you can chew: You can’t get the East End Line over/underpass thing to go your way (overpass) without a major fight. The completed line will not pass run closer than couple of blocks from the proposed garden.

    The people who have the most to gain (and lose) from the Garden vs. Golf Course Death-Match are the one’s who live next door to the golf course. Looks to me like they don’t want the Garden. Not surprising: Years of construction, and when (if) the construction is done, the truly local residence get to deal with all the nonsense associated with mostly-unregulated public space. All the Garden would succeed in doing is driving down property values for a couple of blocks in any direction. What a minute… That would make it prime for developers to snap up…

    By the way, have any of the pro-garden crowd driven Wayside lately? Low-rent, and near-ghetto. Has your focus group gotten a baseline on what percentage of garden-goers are willing to put up with the kind of blight present? Or is the Taco Bell, Cell Phone stores Pawn Shops, and low-rent apartments supposed to be part of the curbside appeal of the project?

    And then there’s the traffic. Assuming the pro-garden people aren’t barking out their fart-tube, what’s the timeline for the infrastructure upgrades that would have to happen in order to handle the kind of traffic mentioned. Wait, wait, don’t tell me: There won’t be any, because if they didn’t do it for the Wal-Mart they just put in down the street. Wayside can’t handle the load now, let alone the alleged additional traffic the Garden would bring.

    A Botanical Garden inside The Loop? Great. Put it were it belongs: Along a bayou, or Memorial (or Hermann) park. If you _really_ want to get into the heavy lifting (reducing property crime, running out the drug dealers, getting the stray cat and dog populations under control, and things that will attract better retail and other businesses), I say Greetings and Welcome. If all you have in your wagon is veiled re-gentrification and assorted NIMBY rebop, please don’t dominate the rap, jack. Awash in silence, you might be able to hear the Siren Call Of The Suburbs.

  • Bring it to Glenbrook! Glenbrook golf course probably is in the “red” it would be a great addition to that part of town. Plus the layout of the existing golf course seems perfect for a garden! Which other golf course in Houston has an ISLAND!!?? Wayside is already a traffic mess with the Walmart…this will just make it worse.

  • The course is a financial drain on the city and continues to deteriorate. My view of Gus, as a resident of the most adjacent neighborhood of Idylwood, is a rusted chain link fence, a bright blue porta-potty, and lots of dying grass because the course utilizes a residential sprinkler system. There is nothing beautiful that I get to see drving or biking along the perimeter. According to posted signs, I can’t enjoy the oaks and the terrain at the heart of the course unless I produce a ticket verifying I have paid greens fees. So as a non-golfer, I derive no benefit. A garden would be a landmark, promote economic development, and neighborhood stakeholders will have input on what we want for the mixed use park area that is twice the size of Discovery Green. Where is the downside? Change is going to happen and we have a chance to give our input and choose something wonderful that all Houstonians could enjoy, not just those with a bag of clubs.

    This is emotional because lots of people have memories associated with the “glory days” of the course, but in reality none of the physical landmarks are even there anymore. The clubhouse, pool, and residential quarters the old timers recall with fondness have been demolished. There is a small clubhouse there and some vending machines. And even with those bare bones, the course’s operating expenses are heavily subsidized by the fees collected from other courses. By the way, in the glory days of the course, it was segregated and people of color were only allowed to work there. So their history and those of the elite golfers may differ in resonance.

    Look at density projections for Houston…development on the EE is inevidable. And for anyone who lives on Wayside, a traffic increase is imminent no matter what happens to that land. A botanical garden/park is the best option for us and if we reject the HBG we lose the chance to control the destiny of our neighborhood.

    Finally, no matter your view on the outcome, the misconduct at Town Hall, particularly the verbal confrontations and hostility directed toward Mayor Parker, CM Gallegos, and the HBG presenter were inappropriate and disappointing.

  • Most of the comments are correct, this idea was assine. Really is anyone who is into Botanical Gardens going to want to venture into this territory–uh NO!–this all seem to have the whiff of Political correctness –like let’s give the crappy Eastside some culture –what a waste of time –most of that crowd seems to want to keep it all ghetto and gross. I’m sad for the people in Eastwood and Idylwood, they’d have used it and seen their property values increase, the Garden had the potential to bring people into the area who never would have dared set foot in that area. It’s over now, it has less than zero chance of coming to fruition–nice job Eastside –I can’t wait to see the Memorial Park Botanical Gardens, it’s where it should have always been–we’ll cherish it.

  • I live over here, don’t golf and think a botanic garden would be a great use of such a beautiful piece of land (and Mike Nomad…it IS on a bayou…). But it should be 1st class. Houston has great subtropical weather and the garden could be even world class, but is this group able to pull it off?
    I’m as much of an obsessive historic type as anyone on here but there’s nothing historic left at Gus. They tore down the original Craftsman styled clubhouse that dated to 1908 or something years ago.

    Traffic will be a problem on Wayside. And with all the gentrification already in Eado, Eastwood, Broadmoor, Clinton Heights and areas still to be bulldozed like Sunnyland, Magnolia Park, Pecan Park and others, there will be plenty of people who will patronize the public park and pay their way into the gardens. A refurbished golf course…a few handfuls more than currently maybe.

  • Will you be able to go on the grounds of the garden without a ticket?

    Pot, meet kettle. I have a very good friend in Idylwood and he said there had been a lot of misconduct and hostility at their recent club meetings so what else is new.

  • Dana-X touched on what I think is a big point: The Weather. What kind of BG is supposed to be going in: Something idealized, common-idea of what a garden “should” look like (meaning, non-native species); something that actually reflects what the local environ used to be; or reflect what it has become (again, non-native species). The answer has a big impact on what the annual budget would look like.

    (and)

    Something I didn’t communicate correctly re: bayou placement. I don’t mean at street level like the project suggests (which I consider to be _next_ to a bayou). Rather, below grade, filling out all the work being done with the concrete walk/path systems currently under way (McGregor Bayou, etc.).

  • iheartidylwood – I’m glad you love the neighborhood. But by ceding control to a group with no money to give you what it is enticing you with, you are not controlling the destiny of the neighborhood, you are giving it away. As far as the chain link fence on the idylwood side goes, the public park portion will generate NO revenue for HBG, so I would bet you that chain link fence is all you are going to get. Your views of the garden itself will be blocked by the fence they construct to keep people out. From the Idylwood Q&A last summer:
    “The HBG would operate more like the Houston Zoo or a museum as there will be an admissions
    fee or membership requirement for access to the gardens which would be enclosed behind a
    fence of some style.”
    @Shannon, there is already fundraising going on for the Memorial Park Arboretum which has a 2017 target opening date. So you can cherish that. There is also a garden opening in 2015 in Hermann Park that had a $30million private investment (http://hermannparkhouston.wordpress.com/tag/mcgovern-centennial-gardens/). How HBG will compete with these places, I don’t know. Then in 2016 or 2017, they default on their lease, declare bankruptcy, the city takes the property back and sells it to the highest bidder. Running a five figure deficit on a golf course (which has been narrowing since the end of the recession) – the cost of two of those ubiquitous city Nissan Leafs is to me a much better idea than this highly likely alternative of failure of an unfunded project. That being said, if you have or know someone who has a couple million to donate, please pipe up.

  • An Arboretum is different from a Botanical Garden–I was nice a fan of the original Houston Arboretum in Memorial, it was nothing more than a swampy pine forest with old wooden paths, a Botanical Garden would be much prefered, tho maybe it could adjoin the refurbished Memorial Arboredum, at any rate, Memorial makes the most sense, it has tons of land, in a great part of town and people would actually visit it here

  • Houston needs more green space. I know from the BLVD Place fiasco that it is within the City’s power to use eminent domain in order to acquire land for parks. It would seem to me that this is an opportune time to use those powers either to acquire land from the KBR site or from a parcel with other frontage along the Buffalo Bayou. In particular, I nominate the Cemex cement plant along the east side of Lockwood and that occupies Turkey Bend. That site is a lynchpin if ever there is a hope of connecting the trails along the south side of the Buffalo Bayou from downtown toward the set of several parks along that last bend before the turning basin; and it is likewise has some beautiful landscaping opportunities associated with it. An additional argument can be made on the basis of public health on account of that concrete plants put off so much particulate matter.

  • @LSM You keep bringing up “their ability to raise money” without acknowledging the obvious: FOGW has to raise money too. How much money has FOGW raised, what is the velocity, will the vocal FOGW crowd have $11MM this year, next, ten years, twenty years?

  • Hi Drone,
    Of course I acknowledge that, and clearly FOGW needs better fundraising leadership as well. But you have to acknowledge that there is a huge difference between raising $40+m for the first phase of something for which a single shovel of dirt has not yet been turned, and raising a fraction of that for something that is already there and despite its “bleeding” of 50-75k a year is operational every day. If FOGW fails to raise all $11m, you still have a golf course, even if the sprinkler system is subpar and club house is dingy. If HBG raises $5m, starts digging up things, and runs out of cash, you are left with untended land in an unsafe part of town. What happens then?

  • While the people of newly-hip EADO are arguing the pros and cons of replacing a golf course with a rose garden, residents of Acres Homes were shocked to find that the State Agency for Violent Sex Offender Management had clandestinely approved and opened a halfway house in their neighborhood! http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Not-quite-the-neighbors-most-would-like-to-have-5372174.php?cmpid=btfpm ($)
    .
    Honestly, this is what gets me about Swamplot. People in an upscale part of the Inner Loop get in a fight over whether an historic golf course should have a rose garden in it, and it’s reported and debated ad nauseum here. Meanwhile, poor neighborhoods Outside the Loop get 23 of the riskiest sex offenders living in one house, and nobody seems to care. I would very happily give up all my “comments of the day” if only they would change this.

  • I’m just going to address the money making/traffic/visitation concerns of putting botanic garden at Gus Wortham.
    In 2012, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens had over 560,000 visitors. In the same year, the Denver Botanic Gardens had 620,000 visitors, though with a much shorter “outdoors” season. The Dallas Arboretum operates with a budget of $16 million, most of which comes from admissions, memberships, rental fees. Several million is contributed by the City of Dallas.
    How many golfers use Gus Wortham per year? What are the revenue numbers?
    As to what types of plants would be in Houston…most garden directors that I know try to put an emphasis on plants that are native or adapted to the local environment. Dallas has wonderful “trail gardens” where plants are put in and given low care similar to a homeowner, and then evaluated at end of summer for performance.

  • @LSM I recognize that the HBG has a ways to go, however, having been involved in many fundraising activities in the past, the standard operating procedure is to not attempt to raise your primary tranche until you’ve got some clearance on the core requirements. Typically, in this sort of situation, they’d raise just enough money to fund the effort to get the city to allow them to take the next step: i.e. raise enough money to lobby the city to allow them to move forward. The fundraisers won’t come in for the main funding until they’ve got an agreement with the city, otherwise the money isn’t likely to get spent. Once they have an agreement with the city, then the real fundraising starts. That’s how this works. You reference the new gardens in Hermann park – they wouldn’t have raised $30MM if the park wasn’t prepared to accept the project. Everything you’ve stated is perfectly in line with my experience in similar projects: they’ve raised a very small amount of money to-date, and spent nearly all of it. That’s because the money they’ve raised was specifically intended to fund the activities to-date.

    We can have conversations about the benefits/drawbacks of each plan without spurious accusations, you continue to misconstrue the situation to further your stance, which doesn’t help bring any of us to your side. For example: stating that a 25-acre park which includes parking is a “25-acre parking lot.” Further: FOGW nee WPF has a huge hole to dig out of after the experience I had of their president’s first talk towards an audience that I was in started out with accusing me of being deluded, of having been fooled into believing a “snake-oil” tale. And then led into accusing me, and others, of coming in and “taking what’s theirs.” Between this, the earlier talk here on Swamplot telling no one to bother trying to buy in Idylwood because it’s now a “broken neighborhood about to be turned into townhouses and condos by money-grubbing developers,” [paraphrased, but nothing made-up on my behalf] and the back-chatter calling HBG swindlers and con-men FOGW/WPF are making enemies faster than they’re making friends.

  • Golf or no-golf, people should understand the difference between ‘losing money’ and ‘costing money’. Unless the botanic garden includes an endowment for the operating expenses, or there was a teeny-tiny ticket booth not visible in the picture, then there will be operating expenses for the botanic garden. In other words, it will “lose money”, too. In fact, all parks in the city “lose money” once you strip away the odd golf course or other revenue-generating facility from the equation, since the parks are free, but maintenance workers insist on eating and having shelter.

    Somewhere lost in the discussion: the city already owns a defunct golf course (Inwood) near 290 and the North Belt. Since that course is just about a sand pit, maybe that would be where the garden should go? Of course, the area might charitably be described as ‘sketchy’, but I’d bet the residents whose homes back up to the course would love to have something worthwhile there again.

  • A few quick comments;
    1) This is not an “unsafe” part of town.
    2) The traffic would increase on Wayside, but wouldn’t be as bad as say Shepherd around Westheimer and other similar streets since there will always be less commercial activity along Wayside due to Villa De Matel being there. Westside people that live around there handle that situation ok it appears.
    3) The garden, if done right, would be one of the only tourist attractions in Houston. Conventioneers could board the train and be there in 10 mins. Right now they go where..to the Galleria?
    4) The golf course was created where there was an abundance of available land at the time. Are there any groups going around town searching for 150 acres for another golf course? No, because that would be a silly waste of time. A botanical garden isn’t.

  • @LSM, FWIW, I’m also a long-time East End resident, and have started several businesses here, like many of the FOGW/WPF supporters. I also believe that they, like me, only want to see what’s best for their neighborhood. We happen to have a disagreement as to how to get there, and I believe that neither party has nefarious intent. It is because of that, that I believe we can have the conversation about the future of the East End and the Wortham in particular, without having to resort to the TV news tactics designed to create better ratings, rather than to allowed informed discussion.

  • ShadyHeightster, I’m sure you realize that you don’t get revenue from admissions, membership, and rental fees, until something is OPEN, which means you have to build it first. So your comments about how much the Dallas Arboretum operating budget does not address funding the construction of this project at all. Also this statement: “Several million is contributed by the City of Dallas.” – the City of Houston has made it clear that it is contributing zero to this project. It is to be entirely privately funded, unless you want to petition the City to raise your taxes to build it.

    I saw revenue numbers for the golf course a couple months ago at a meeting, but don’t have a copy. I remember it seemed to track the recession, and I thought the 2013 deficit was 35k but the garden people are saying 75k, so I will take them at their word. I think the operating budget was in the hundreds of thousands, but I bet someone on here knows how to access the precise figures.

  • Hi drone, I’m sorry that some people who happen to also support the golf course were rude to you – I can tell you that I was not one of them. But your attack on me is likewise misplaced. It’s HBG that is misleading people, not me, by labeling something a 25 acre public park & parking (I initially thought it was 2.5 because of the resolution of the map posted) with no details whatsoever about the split, promising to include a 9 hole course and then not, and bouncing from site to site over the past 10 years saying that each is ideally situated. When you buy a house, generally you have to put down 20% to show lenders you are serious. Maybe you are right and the donations will start pouring in once the City says “ok!” But maybe you aren’t right. As someone who lives next to it, that is not a risk I am willing to take. Why not require some initial threshold, where the City says once you’ve shown you can raise $10m (or whatever), now we’ll lease it to you. Instead we get a 20 paged powerpoint with some skybridge and ponds and hills that need to be constructed and are supposed to say “hey, looks great, here’s the land!”

    In any event, I do respect your opinions, but will exercise my rights to voice mine as well.

  • I don’t get why everyone says the golf course is not accessible, but a park that you have to pay to get into is any more accessible?
    .
    Go to Academy, buy some cheap clubs for $99, go pay the $25 greenfees (with golfcart included) and pretend like you’re golfing as you drive around in a golf cart and drink beer (or soda, or water, or whatever).
    .
    I imagine access to the botanical gardens isn’t much cheaper (minus getting the golf clubs) and you won’t have a golf cart to drive around.
    .
    Golf, thanks to cheap clubs, is VERY accessible to anyone, you can find cheaper clubs than a full set from academy, go to a garage sale, there’ll be a full set with a bag for $25. just go play. Don’t pretend like you have to know anything, just be courteous to others, and if you hit a car, run really fast. That’s how I learned to play.

  • For those curious how a private non-profit can successfully run a park, look at Discovery Green which had ~$5M in revenue in 2012.
    .
    And the only place a downtown tourist could visit right now on the the light rail at the moment is the museum district / Hermann Park. When the city is on display during the 2017 Super Bowl
    .
    I say if the golf course is losing money, it has to go. Whether a botanical garden should be there or not – if a private company want to make a go of it, give them a chance. In the meantime, let’s try not losing money. I think a large green space will likely attract a lot of people who will want to hold events (weddings at the rose garden, sip and stroll events, cultural festivals, local shopping) and bring money into the area. Just take a look at the events at Discovery Green and Hermann Park. Now that Metro has a day pass (finally!), that’ll just bring in more business from pedestrians.

  • Hi Dana-X,
    In response to your comments:
    1) There are pockets of safe and pockets of unsafe. While two sides of the park are pretty safe, two sides are not. See, for example, Houston murder map from 2013. http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/murders-map, HPD crime beat (http://www.houstontx.gov/police/cs/beatpages/eastside.htm), and neighborhood scout interactive map (http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/tx/houston/crime/).
    2) How is “not as bad as Shepherd at Westheimer” something to aspire to? That is among the worst intersections in the city. Trying to get a cup of coffee at dunkin donuts is like risking your life with the condition of the roads and traffic there.
    3) I don’t really know if conventioners plan lots of side trips that are not dining and shopping related. Maybe they do. But this point is based on your assumption of “if [the garden is] done right.” My fear is what happens if they don’t have the money or experience to do it right. That, to use drone’s terms, is where the people of nefarious intent will step in, both in terms of the festering of drug related issues while the property sits vacant, and then the loss of the green space when the city sells it off.
    4) Whether golf course versus a garden is a “silly waste of time” is your own personal preference. I personally think paying $20 to go look at some plants in Houston’s sweltering humidity is a “silly waste of time.” If so many people want this garden, why not do like the philanthropists of Discovery Green, buy some of the land and *turn an abandoned slab of concrete* into the garden. (source: http://www.discoverygreen.com/history-of-discovery-green).

  • Shannon – I agree. Replace the walking and biking trails in Memorial Park and then we can have golf course and a botanical garden right next to each other.

    Brian – You are totally correct. The place would end up a going out of business as the only people who go there would be the people who live nearby and use it to walk their dog. Then we’d lose an historic golf course and an unwanted botanical garden, too.

    joel – Golf is only a dying demographic to those who don’t play. The game has grown over the last decade, not declined. On the other hand, how many people sitting at home think, “I sure wish there was a botanical garden nearby!”?

    Let’s face it, Gus Wortham should be saved as an historic golf course…because it is exactly that. If the city put as much money into Gus Wortham as they put into Memorial Park Golf Course, it wouldn’t be losing money and it would be more popular than Memorial Park Golf Course. I say that because I play them both (I play GW more than Memorial) and GW has a much better layout and design. Right now, it lacks the appearance that Memorial Park has from the standpoint of how well maintained it is. If they maintained GW the way they do Memorial…it would probably be harder to get a tee time at GW than it is at Memorial.

    Also, I would make sure nobody in my family would ever go to the botanical garden that destroyed an historic golf course like Gus Wortham. I’m guessing there are a lot of people that love Gus Wortham Park Golf Course that would feel and do the same.

  • Preservation and Restoration is what we must focus on in this great city!!!
    Double the presence at the meeting was for preserving the Historic Golf Course and this should speak for itself. Let’s stop fighting over this landmark and concentrate on the future of our Historic East End. Many of the residents present at the meeting have been fighting for many years with City Hall over the preservation and restoration of the East End’s Historic properties. Wake up Houston!!! Let’s not lose this one over a few deciding that this location is the best place for a garden when there is still so many abandoned unattractive apartment complexes.

  • I reported on local Houston golf news for several years and try to play Gus when I am back in town. It’s probably my favorite place to play in Houston, and the property has enormous potential. There’s a reason why Houston Country Club and River Oaks have their land along Buffalo Bayou: the land near Houston’s bayous is rolling and offers elevation changes and landscape that you just don’t see at say, Memorial Park, Redstone, Champions, etc. From a golf perspective, this land is invaluable because there are no tracts like it left in the City. Although I grant this is not determinative as to the highest and best use for the property (what’s beautiful for golf could be beautiful for other uses), however when you factor in the potential for the property I have little doubt that a successfully renovated Gus Wortham could be profitable along the lines of Hermann and Memorial. Those two courses will always earn more because of history and location; they’ve always been THE muni courses for the city. The other factor that cuts in favor of keeping the property as a golf course is the history. Gus Wortham is the oldest 18-hole course in the state, opening as the Houston Country Club first 18-hole course in 1908 (an earlier course was where the Police Officer’s Memorial is now, you can still see a remnant on Google Maps https://goo.gl/maps/veWUl). Hancock in Austin is slightly older, but is no longer a full, 18-hole tract. Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, and Ben Hogan all played there. You can make a case that in terms of Texas golf history, Gus Wortham is the most irreplaceable course in Texas. Also, if the course is renovated one would think more modern irrigation and fertilization systems would cut into the $75k a year loss. Finally, from what I recall in my reporting a lot of East Enders have fond memories of the courses when it was private as a destination for social functions e.g. meetings, receptions, etc. A new and attractive clubhouse on the course would perform these functions as well as a Botanical Garden would. I doubt this post is going to change minds that are already against the golf course, but I will be sorry to see it go if it comes to that.

  • I’ve lived on the East side since Junior high (40 now). I thing GUS sucks! its a dumpy golf course which isn’t being utilized. I would rather have a park I can enjoy without having to pay green fee’s. I would love to walk with my wife and enjoy the great outdoors near my neighborhood. You wine about traffic and construction? that’s progress! get used to it. We are a top growing city and this will happen if you like it or not. Also, if you build it they will come! I would like to see more people that CARE about their neighborhood instead of the current Illegal environment. I can’t tell you how many times I have to deal with drunks, thefts, the amount of litter is insane! they have absolutely no respect for Texas. They were even passed out drunk behind my car multiple times. Don’t get me wrong here I love the Hispanic people but so many BAD people ruin it for the good. I think the gardens will be a better place for ALL to enjoy.