City Council Approves Botanical Garden on Glenbrook Park Golf Course, Gus Wortham Course Renovations

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BOTANICAL GARDEN ON GLENBROOK PARK GOLF COURSE, GUS WORTHAM COURSE RENOVATIONS Glenbrook Park Golf Course, 8205 N. Bayou Dr., HoustonCity council voted unanimously this morning to give the go-ahead to plans to renovate the Gus Wortham Golf Course north of Idylwood, and allow the group that had previously attempted to turn that location into a botanical garden to develop a facility instead on the current site of the 18-hole Glenbrook Park Golf Course, along Sims Bayou on the north side of the Gulf Fwy. south of Loop 610. The long-term lease agreements are victories for the operating organizations behind both efforts, but the garden group clearly got its second choice; an Inner Loop garden on site of the oldest golf course in Texas would have had better access to public transportation including the new light-rail line, and would have been surrounded by less freeway noise. If the Houston Golf Association fails to raise $5 million for the Gus Wortham redo before the end of this year, it’s possible the split could be rejiggered; the Houston Botanic Garden Board is being given until the end of 2017 to raise $20 million for its efforts. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Glenbrook Park Golf Course: Houston Golf Nut

45 Comment

  • I could actually live with that. Glenbrook is still a good location and the surrounding area would find the new development a huge boon for the area. let gus wortham fester for a bit more and do something with it later on.

  • gus wortham needs to be a protected landmark. as is mentioned, it’s the oldest golf course in texas.

  • DEMO GUS!!! Too many benifits to change it to a botanical garden. Too many negatives to keep it around. Quit pandering to the people that let it run into ruin. If they cared then they should have taken better care of the course from the start.

  • What a colossal missed opportunity. You don’t put a fucking Botanical Garden in the hood. This is beyond stupid. The kind of people who frequent and volunteer for these sort of things will never travel to this part of town,.. Get real! I’ve been to the new garden in Hermann and it’s been a major success and I plan to go back many times, but you’ll never catch me going to a Botanical Garden in Glenbrook. I’m perplexed why this group didn’t fight for a spot in Memorial or Hermann, that would have been an actual success and people would have actually visited. It’s like putting the Galleria in Galena Park. Asinine.

  • The kind of people who go to the Orange Show and Smither Park and who like mid-century modern style will go to the botanical garden. Chill.

  • Shannon – Not long ago, Hermann Park was surrounded by neighborhoods that you would consider “in the hood” and you probably would have cried about any money being poured into THAT park because it’s not close enough to you and your friends.

  • I won’t say that the BG should not be in the “hood” but Shannon is otherwise right. A BG in Glenbrook will not be frequented…. at least by locals.

  • No thanks! Won’t be visiting these gardens once they’re built. Really ignorant idea to put the city’s official gardens next to a noisy freeway. No disrespect to Glenbrook residents but this would have been better placed in the East End near the light rail.

  • Glenbrook is a FAIL. As mentioned, the spot will likely only attract a splash of people on the weekends. Gus Wortham, being a rail ride from DT would’ve attracted much more. No 150 acres sites closer in than that. I’m hoping the golfers fail to come up with the $5 mil and the Glenbrook idea gets switched back to Gus.

  • I generally disagree with Shannon, but this time he is right. And although it is a fair statement that the neighborhoods to the east of Herman Park were not great (and arguably are still not great), I have to disagree with the statement that the neighborhoods to the west have ever been been bad. That is simply not true.

  • I’ll grant you the east side of Hermann was not great at one time, but Hermann has always been Houston’s Central Park and it has the museums to the North, Rice/Southampton to the West, The Texas Medical Center on the South. You in no way could ever compare the area around Hermann to the area around Glenbrook. I stand by my assessment that this is the stupidest idea the idiots on Council have come up with in a long time. It’s sickening that they completely squandered a great opportunity. San Antonio had their Botanical Garden in Alamo Heights, Dallas’ is in Lakewood, and Houston? Yeah, ours will be in the ghetto on the wrong side of town. So stupid, so Houston.

  • Oh and I live within a stone throw of Hermann, my grandmother is on the Conservancy and I’ve probably picked up literally a ton of trash in that park in my lifetime. I’ve always supported parks, I was on the Conservancy for Griffith Park in LA and White Rock in Dallas as well as Olmos Park in SA, so don’t lecture me on parks. This BG location makes zero sense. It’s beyond stupid.

  • I live in District I and, like many of my neighbors, voted for Councilman Robert Gallegos. Unfortunately, he was heavily influenced by his supporters in Idylwood and ultimately opposed establishing the botanic garden at the Gus Wortham Golf Course site. Unless he steps up to the plate with other projects that benefit the majority of his constituents (and the city as a whole), we won’t vote for him again.

  • The tennis center at Memorial Park is pushed right up against I-10. The arboretum at Memorial is serenaded by the roar of 610. Of course it would be much better without the highways around, but it certainly does not mean that Glennbrook would be doomed from the start due to the proximity to the highways, which could probably be mitigated even better than at Memorial. The Houston Audubon Society already has a nature center right next to Glennbrook. And Glennbrook is bordered by a natural section of Sims Bayou.

    The real argument against saving Wortham over Glennbrook is really a golfing argument. Wortham is too short. It was built back when wood shafts were the norm. Glennbrook is about 500-600 yards longer and is also a more challenging course.

  • I realize the Botanical Garden people are anxious to get started and are really tired of waiting, but in NO way is Glenbrook a wise choice. It will be an isolated ” maybe” destination for locals as well as out of town visitors. I say play the long game and wait for a better spot.

  • @Shannon–No doubt that have you have picked up plenty of trash in that park-and off the trail elsewhere. Also, could you please get your back story straight? A few months back on a rant about this very subject, you claimed that you were on the Conservancy-not granny. Granny was not going to volunteer anywhere east of I-45
    for fear of God knows what. So please don’t go the Botanical Gardens. Keep your overwhelming negative energy in Southampton. And start writing down all these background details about your life you oh so liberally share.

  • Well, the Bronx zoo is in the Bronx. I say that without doing too much research, haha.

  • Maybe Glenbrook is not the ideal are for the Botanical Garden (according to Shannon its the hood) maybe that is a true statement…….but from what I remember the East End was also the hood, so was the Heights and First Ward and now people are paying top dollar to move into these neighborhoods and i believe that maybe the addition of the Botanical Garden will eventually have the same impact on this side of town. Memorial park is possibly getting a $200 million renovation, Hermann has had millions in renovations…..why not spread the love??? Innerloop people need to realize that there is more to the city than just the innerloop and that not everything can fit within! We are the 4th largest city and i would like for the whole city to be filled with parks like Hermann and Memorial and have amenities all over!

  • Brooklyn Botanical Garden started in the hood and today it is very successful. I think gus is a better spot. It should be inside the loop.

  • And accessible by light rail.

  • I agree that we should just wait for a better location. This is just a terrible location, period. It’s practically on Hobby’s landing strip. What’s the rush? We haven’t ever had a real Botanical Garden so we can wait. It’s hard to believe the lushest big city in Texas never had a great garden like Ft Worth or Dallas. You’ d have thought Miss Ima would have created a great one. Bayou Bend is pretty but it’s only 14 acres. Really GW would have worked, even McGreg would have been a better choice, yes it’s in the ghetto, but RT is making a strong comeback and UH and the Med Center are close. Again, AWFUL choice.

  • @artfox,
    Last year at the Town Hall meeting hosted by Mr. Gallegos, Houston Country Club Place, Idylwood, Mason Park and I believe Forest Hill also, all were against the Botanic Garden at Gus. The only neighborhood in favor (and the most distant) was Eastwood.
    So your assessment is not entirely accurate. Perhaps you did not attend that meeting. I did.

  • I don’t get the whole “in the ghetto” schtik. Shannon, why don’t you just come out and say you’re afraid of people who have a different skin color than you?
    I live in the east end (part of the ghetto you think is a better ghetto than the other ghetto called glenbrook) and I feel just as safe living here as I feel when I’m anywhere else in town.
    The current entrance to glenbrook golf course is away from the freeway, but I imagine with some re-engineering they could make the parking lot accessible from I-45, so you don’t have to go too far into the barrio to go picking up trash on a volunteer run so you feel better about yourself.

  • I actually have to agree with Shannon on this one, even though saying so makes me feel like I need to take a shower. The sort of person that backs a central-city botanical garden with cold hard cash — let’s not fool ourselves — its really and truly is his grandmother. The appropriate site is Hermann Park.

  • Niche, I’m pleased anytime I can make you take a shower, I’m a firm believer in good hygiene. You’re welcome.

  • As an Idylwood resident, I’m slightly in favor of the Gus remaining a golf course. I’m not sure why everyone is dogging it so badly, as it is a longer course than some others, such as Hermann Park, has more history, and appears to me to be fairly well utilized by those in the community. I don’t see anyone calling for Hermann to be torn down. Just thinking out loud here, why don’t they turn the Hermann Park course into a botanical garden? I get that it makes a slight profit, but the garden plans would make WAY more sense to be there, next to the zoo and down the street from the museum district.

  • Houston needs to spread out its park attractions. Back in the early 2000s Hermann Park was mostly empty most of the time, and that was nice. It was quiet and parking was easy to find. Now they’ve spruced it up so much that it’s packed on weekends, and often crowded even on off hours. Spread some of that love around town. Houston distributes its housing and employment; it should do the same for its recreation and culture.

  • If Hermann Park GC was badly neglected and needed millions to restore it to average quality, I would be all for turning it into a giant botanical garden. But it is in very good condition for a GC that gets very heavy traffic every weekend of the year and has dirt cheap greens fees. Gus Wortham has been poorly maintained for years and needs millions to just get it to average. Thus it is fair game to consider whether it is worth the investment or whether another use would be better.

  • I live in Park Place near Glenbrook golf course. The area is home to Houston Audubon’s Sims Bayou Urban Nature Center We often sit in our back yard, which is on the bayou, and marvel and the incredible range of bird and wildlife that inhabit our area. I am very excited that they are considering turning the golf course into a botanical garden. I feel that many of my neighbors and others who live in the area will be excited, too. Not everyone who lives in “the hood” are gangsters, vagrants, or criminals. Thank goodness Houston is the most diverse city in the south. We welcome everyone — even elitist like Shannon. It’s cool if you don’t want to come to our hood. We’ll enjoy the botanical garden just the same. Also, with the expansion of Hobby Airport, we expect the area to enjoy new growth and economic opportunities — obviously what Houston Botanical Gardens has noted when selecting Glenbrook Golf Course.

  • Only one small end of the Glenbrook course is by the Freeway. Memorial Park has freeways running all around it, besides, the BG garden has the potential to be something that will help spark redevelopment. Especially when combined with the expansion at Hobby, the $10,000,000 Scenic Houston is throwing at Broadway Boulevard for landscaping, Glenbrook Valley’s historic designation, and Ed Wulfe expanding the Gulfgate TIRZ to the area. Ed Wulfe didn’t spearhead that for no reason. He has his eye on the area. Say what you will about it, but big changes are in the works for that area.

  • The poster who mentioned that Houston could benefit by spreading out its attractions is right on the money. Case in point: the East End would benefit from more foot traffic if the botanical gardens were installed there, perhaps adding new shopping near the rail stop or parking lot and increasing general awareness of the area. The same can be said of installing the garden in Glenbrook; perhaps a project like this would push the continuation of the East End line down Broadway to Hobby Airport. Keeping everything on the west side, although nice for density, contributes to the disparity we are seeing in housing prices and amenities where everyone feels they’re priced out of the city because they can’t be safe/close to a nice H-E-B for under $500k.

  • @Sally Forth,
    I was not at that meeting due to a prior commitment. Neighbors who did attend were amazed at the behavior displayed by Gus Wortham Golf Course supporters who packed the meeting. Now let’s see all those avid golfers raise the millions necessary to support their dream by the stated deadline! Of course, if they can’t, Councilman Gallegos will probably finagle some way to extend it…

  • To clarify my earlier suggestion about Hermann Park, I would suggest that the ideal placement of a botanical garden would be the southern part of the park, which isn’t used as intensively as the northern end. I am not suggesting that any part of the golf course should be replaced. If it were sited near the southwest corner then a botanical garden would be visited by TMC workers, patients, and visitors; the donors’ placards would be much more visible and prominent. These things would translate to cold hard cash and a vested interest on the part of the donors in ensuring that their investment continues to perform.

    My biggest concern about a botanical garden is that it should be fiscally sustainable in a way that the golf courses themselves by and large are not. If the garden has to compete for scarce public sources of revenue or for parks services that are provided through the City then the facilities are unlikely to be very impressive, public interest in it will wane quickly, and it should not be worth bothering with IMO.

  • If there is to be a botanical garden, it should be supported by an arts foundation, not city funds. I say this not as a conservative but as someo e who wants to see a botanical garden succeed.

  • Niche, your idea is lucid and makes complete sense….that is why it won’t be built in that location. It’s like, well we didn’t get GW so we’ll just take anything. The backers on this BG are completely clueless. If it gets built in Glenbrook it will never support itself and few will visit….period.

  • We are fortunate to even have this discussion as our city and citizens have the economic means to support such projects as improving Gus Wortham and building a botanic garden—unlike other cities with not economic means. Keeping all the assets in the inner loop prohibits Houstonians from discovering the diversity which makes Houston such a great place to live.
    I am fortunate enough to be an 8 year resident of Meadowcreek Village and I too am still learning about all this area has to offer. We were voted Swamplot Neighborhood of the Year in 2012. We are a diverse group from different backgrounds and careers—from gardeners to state representatives.
    To Shannon, or anyone who is novice to the area, I invite you to come to a Meadowcreek Village Civic Club meeting held in the community center every second Thursday of each month. Everyone is welcome!

  • Shannon, I’m from San Antonio and the Gardens ARE NOT IN ALAMO HEIGHTS!! They are in Mahnke Park, I lived in the neighborhood for 17 years. One side of the garden is what snobs like you would consider “the hood” and the other side is Ft Sam Houston and Mahnke Park. When we moved there the neighborhood was not as nice as Glenbrook, but over time it did get gentrified. I am completely amazed that you think only “ghetto” people live in Glenwood or Meadowbrook. What a rude assumption. And even if it were true you make the assumption that middle to low income people are too stupid to enjoy or use a botanical garden. Wouldn’t it be nicer to think that all people can enjoy and use this and it would be an economic aid to the neighborhood and maybe even make it a little better and attract a “nicer” crowd of buyers to our area? Your comments make me sad.

  • A botanical garden does not function like an ordinary city park. It will not be designed to appeal to a general population like an ordinary city park. It is a civic amenity with a narrow demographic appeal (both in terms of demanding the amenity and also supplying it) that emphasizes affluent white women above a certain age with children and grandchildren. If I were to develop a psychographic segment to attempt and target them for marketing and promotional purposes, I might call them the Effete Neo-Victorians. As with any category of bigot, they want to go somewhere and be among their own kind. They have to feel that they belong there, that it is for them; and although they might deign to partake of an equestrian facility in Katy, or professional tennis coaching in Cypress, or sailing instruction at a marina in League City, or even to expose their child to throngs of merely normal kids at the Houston Zoo, they will no sooner invest a great deal of their money or time into a botanical park at Glenbrook as their masculine counterparts are likely to play golf there.

    They do not live in Glenbrook (anymore).

    Never mind whether Glenbrook is or isn’t the ‘hood’. Shannon’s hyper-generalizations of Houston’s socioeconomic geography offend me as well, but I nevertheless acknowledge that they’re perfectly ordinary among the relevant subset of the population. The rest of us have to acknowledge them as such. As a matter of public policy as well, we have to acknowledge that these people are at least useful idiots — not merely because they’ll provide the matching funds that will make a botanical garden into something worthy of general appreciation — but for economic reasons. Its good for our local economy and for all of our arts and cultural venues that we offer such persons a high quality of life and that they should socially anchor themselves to our city’s venues (the same as how Rex Tillerson is socially anchored to Dallas). Doing so is fundamentally baked into this venue’s public ROI.

    If it is sited in Glenbrook then it might as well be sited in Sharpstown or Inwood. Same difference.

  • Mannke Park is right next to AH and if you were “truly” from SA you’d know that area is colloquially know as “Alano Heights”. The BG in SA is practically next to the SA County Club, a stokes throw from Brackenridge and the Witte. To compare this area to Glenbrook is ridiculous. Don’t lecture me on SA.

  • @niche: Way to fling around the ignorant stereotypes. Ever been to Mercer Botanical Gardens? It is in the middle of the shabbier southern half of Spring. It is packed every weekend with the same demographics as the Houston Zoo. It is a favorite spot for Quinceanera photo shoots. It is definitely more heavily trafficked than your typical park with a ball field, playground and picnic pavilion. I have been to a bunch of botanical gardens/arboretums across the US. A really well done botanical garden can really pack them in. People drive 45 min-1 hr from Philly to just outside the burbs to visit Longwood Gardens. It is absolutely packed in the spring and summer with people. The Montreal Botanical Garden is a huge attraction for both tourists and locals in Montreal. It is in a pretty dumpy lower-middle/middle class section of Montreal. If done well, a botanical garden at either Wortham or Glennbrook could be a big attraction for the entire city. The reality is that your Fred Flintstone/Al Bundy view of botanical gardens as being the sole domain of the white landed aristocracy tea party set (as in an actual party where tea and cucumber sandwiches are served, not a bunch of right wing Republicans) is completely inaccurate. Botanical gardens are not shopping malls or strip centers. You do not need to rely on the narrow minded rote demographic analysis that real estate developers cling to like a toddler clings to his blankie in order to find a successful location. Botanical gardens are closer to the Field of Dreams school of development: If you build it . . .

  • @Shannon. How about you not lecture everyone else on everything? 85% of what you purport to know is utter hogwash.

  • I’m looking out the window at my grandmother’s amaryllises – that is, Mother dug them up when my grandmother moved into the retirement home thirty years ago, transplanted them, eventually dividing them and passing some bulbs on to me. I’m not even very fond of amaryllis, but I’ve kept them alive.
    But now I see them for the potent symbol of bigotry they are. I’m going to pull them up! We were on the wrong side of history. I’m going to pull bigotry up by the roots!

  • Don’t waste your time lecturing Shannon on anything..know-it-all experts have all the answers, and make all the correct decisions for the rest of us. Thank goodness!

  • One thing Houston should learn from San Antonio is to market its tourism, which Houston shamefully hasn’t done until very recently. I too am a native San Antonian and a “hood rat” (South San H.S., Sr. 1975). But before I moved here, I lived just off Broadway near Hildebrand where there are some nice green spaces. Let’s not forget the beautiful Sunken Gardens, which used to be (I don’t know if it still is, haven’t been back in decades) a great venue for outdoor musical events and other things. But the key is that everything seems to be located in one general spot, which is a good idea for Houston too, as another commenter pointed out — let’s have the BG near Hermann Park, the Zoo and the Museum District. Face it, it’s probably more for tourists than locals anyway.

  • Folks – wake up and smell the fertilizer. The contract between the COH and HBG is not the great deal you want to believe. This contract commits a minimum if ONE million in CIP finding to build a private entranceway from Park Place through another city park, Charleton Park. Greatly impacting the small neighborhood of Park Place, the library and two elementary schools. Currently area resident schoolchildren use the golf course bridges to walk to school. When HBG fences and controls the land they will be forced to walk along the feeder of the gulf freeway ! Plans by HBG are for the development of a parking area for AT LEAST 250 cars. Just two of any reasons why HBG needs to locate to another location – but has steadfastly refused other sites including Inwood golf course with 74 acres and access from the Antone
    People. I love flowers and gardens but I dont buy the manure from this bad deal