Comment of the Day: The City Should Have Been Buying Park Space Sooner

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CITY SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUYING PARK SPACE SOONER “Back in the Mayor Parker days, the city would just take the green space fees and use them to plug holes in HPARD’s budget. As was typical for the time, the reasoning from the Parker administration was basically: ‘Nothing says we can’t do that.’ Sadly, back then, market value was about half of what it currently is in the Heights and other hot markets in town where larger tracts are becoming exceedingly rare. Many opportunities to add park space were missed.” [Old School, commenting on A New Heights Park for the Shuttered Bus Stop on N. Main?] Illustration: Lulu

19 Comment

  • Is there actually any department in the CoH government that does any planning? I know we have a “planning department” but all I can tell that they do is make sure everyone has too many parking spaces in the 25′ between their building and the roadway.

  • Houston has a ton of park space as it is. The last thing we need is more park space (except for perhaps a few areas where it could serve flood control objectives). Rather, we need better maintenance of the parks we already have.

  • Houston has enough park space? That’s laughable.

  • Woulda coulda shoulda. What do we do NOW?

  • According to this graph, we’re 6th in the nation in terms of park space per capita:

    We have tons of parks, many of them very large. The problem is that, outside of a few showcase parks (Discovery Green, Eleanor Tinsley Park, etc), they aren’t well maintained and many simply don’t offer much to do. $ to buy more land for parks would be far better spent to upgrade and maintain the parks that we already have.

  • @Grant I disagree, it would be better if the city purchased the land and then create community partnerships to maintain them. If people in the community don’t want to improve or maintain them that would be THEIR choice. Without the land there is no choice.

  • I want to say Memorial park is the largest urban park in the country. I am sure that helps.

  • Memorial Park is almost 1.75 times the size of NYC’s Central Park (1466 acres vs 843.) Those New Yorkers think their park is big.

  • I have long felt that the park fees were a city perpetuated scam. Want a fun afternoon? Call the City and see if you can trace where the park fees you paid ended up.

  • Grant, that data is next to meaningless. It includes Cullen Park’s 9,200 acres (the Addicks reservoir) and the Lake Houston Wilderness Park’s 4,700 acres (in a hardly urban part of Kingwood) in the per capita calculation. These are ostensibly the 4th largest and 10th largest urban parks in the country. With all due respect, the use of the parks is nothing like Central Park or even Memorial Park and their location would prevent them from ever being used like that no matter how much money was spent. Yes, Houston needs better investment in its existing parks. But it also needs more good, moderately sized playgrounds and ball-fields within walking distance of where people actually live.

  • I honestly wish more parks would be wildscapes – some tending necessary of course but no amenities beyond trail markers. Cities need more trees for cooling.

  • I cited that data as an example – but even if one looks at a reasonably-sized subset of Houston (say, all of the inner loop, you’ll see a large amount of land already devoted to park space.
    Frankly, whether a park is walking distance (or even accessible via mass transit) to high-density residential areas isn’t that relevant in Houston, where even the poorest own cars and few would feel comfortable sending their unsupervised kids to play alone in a public park. Having to drive 10 minutes to the nearest park is no hardship, especially if the park is well-kept and has nice amenities.
    Incidentally, there are already two parks a three-minute drive from the old N Main transit center.

  • @grant stop being so logical and pragmatic or the walkability jacobins will take you away for re-education.

  • The City has a fair number of parks already in most areas; the link below is to a 12-page line-by-line inventory of all of their parks. If they were to acquire more parks, I would suggest that flood control projects take priority, then other bayou-related greenbelt projects, and then chronically under-parked communities like Fifth Ward, Kashmere Gardens, Greenspoint, and so on. Communities like the Heights are more-than-equitably-parked already, nice enough already that they are self-propelled by their niceness, and their residents are generally self-important and delusional and should be wholly ignored in nearly every matter.
    That being said…I think that the City really ought to develop and maintain what they have more intensively rather than focusing on acquisitions, and also provide better parks programming for families and children.

  • I agree with you 100% movocelot. Why does “improving” a park usually mean adding more concrete and paving over trails? I wish parks in and around Houston were far less developed.

  • I agree with the others who have said that we have enough parks but should improve the quality of our current inventory.
    Plus, it makes sense: many current parks already have homes and neighborhoods around them. Why not care and improve them?

  • TheNiche: I’m torn about more parks int he areas you talk about. They’re pretty bad — and I can see why you’d want to make them nicer with a park — but based on what I’ve seen out there (I own several properties in the area), I can’t imagine the scene at a park in Kashmere Gardens would be one of joyfull kids laughing and playing like in the Heights.
    Sad for sure, but true.

  • @ Cody: There *are* parks on the southwest side that get heavy use despite their surrounding neighborhoods having a high density of violent crime. Also, for all its well-earned bad rep, Fifth Ward is hardly the most dangerous area in Houston anymore.
    But I think that we can agree to disagree here, because the priorities I put forward make equitable park acquisitions a tertiary priority, so far down the list that they’d never realistically happen.

  • Heights folks should have started a TIRZ long ago so they could just siphon (scam) money from the general fund and use it for their own neighborhood. Why do you think Midtown is getting a new fancy park? Why do you think Memorial Park is getting showered in money? These to TIRZ’s are sitting on a mountain of cash. Hell the Uptown TIRZ had so much money burning a hole in it’s pocket, they had to annex Memorial Park just so they would have a place to spend it.