Fine, Parks Board Tells Idylwood Residents, We Won’t Build a Parking Lot If You Really Don’t Want One

At a meeting yesterday, reps from the Houston Parks Board told reps from the Idylwood Civic Club that the HPB would agree to let alone that grassy knoll, shown here, where a trailhead providing access to the Brays Bayou hike and bike was to have been installed. Described in 2009 documents as “Sylvan Dell Parking Lot,” it appears that the proposed trailhead would have provided 19 off-street parking spaces, benches, lighting, a gazebo, and exercise equipment. Though those specs don’t really matter now: Houston Parks Board rep Jen Powis tells Swamplot that the Idylwood residents “chose to eliminate” the project.


It doesn’t appear that this agreement will affect the completion of this section of hike and bike trail; you’ll just have to tromp across the dell to get on. Powis explains that the residents did choose to retain one Idylwood trail access point — which will look more like a driveway than anything else — from N. Macgregor Way at nearby Spurlock Park, just around the bend.

Below: The construction progress, as of today, on this section of the trail. These views lead down from Lawndale St. looking to the west:

It appears that the construction has almost reached that access point at Spurlock Park:

Photos: Allyn West

26 Comment

  • Glad to see that the Parks Board respected the will of the community. I’m sure they can find something else useful for those funds.

  • The bayou looks so much nicer there than it does to the west of the Med Center. Is flooding a problem in this area?

  • This article makes it sound a bit like Idylwood residents voted to cancel Christmas, but the truth is, we were very concerned about the problems a parking lot would create in that area. If you look at the first picture in the article, you’ll see the area where the lot was supposed to go: back behind those trees, in an area largely hidden from the view of neighbors, passersby, and police. You’ll also notice that it’s a big grassy area right next to the bayou, and paving it over would remove water-absorbing capacity from an area that needs all it can get because of its proximity to the bayou. Finally, you’ll see how wide the street is; that street is eight blocks long and will provide far more parking space than visiting hikers and bikers are ever going to need.

  • Lotsa idylwood area news lately. This is good news. Looking forward to riding the trail.

  • Wait a second here….
    no one said anything about “benches, lighting, a gazebo, and exercise equipment”.
    There were going to make this area a park instead of just a grassy knoll. A parking lot would have made a little more sense now wouldn’t it?
    I guess my knee jerk reaction is to assume that the city of Houston is going to mess something up.
    Lesson learned.

  • And… the mismanagement of taxpayer-owned assets continue. Whether or not parking spaces are provided should be decided by a plan, by need, by how it would benefit the park’s users, NOT by whether or not a group of loud-mouthed nearby residents like it or not. This is asinine. It’s the same ridiculous set of “policies” that drives the COH to turn parking spaces on public streets into private spaces; because some entitled residents don’t want other tax-payers to park in front of their houses. This is no way to run a city, or to manage billions in assets – like streets or parks.

  • Yes, the original article failed to mention exercise equitement, a gazebo, or the special lighting, hmmm, now we know what the parking spaces were actually for. It makes the residents look like they just didn’t want people in that area, it really had nothing to so with the parking lot eating up green space. Talk about a Red Herring. In the future please get us all the facts in these articles so we can make an informed comment. I feel a bit dubbed by the original article.

  • @htownproud

    Not since Ike, according to my 96 year old neighbor. The bulk of the neighborhood is above the flood plane. A few of the lowest lying homes were flooded in Ike, then later razed. That section is open and grassy now.

  • @ htownproud:

    We had serious flooding during Ike. The Harris County Flood Control District bought and demolished 9 houses in the neighborhood because they had flooded too many times.

    Since then, no houses have flooded, although we’ve had flooding on the part of North MacGregor Way that is near where the parking lot would have been.

  • Dear Parks Department, we’ll take the exercise equipment and new parking lot at Lawrence Park in the Heights. Bayou and bike path are already installed. We promise to take care of it and share with others, even if they come from other parts of town.

  • I should mention that the plans for the parking lot did not show or say anything about a gazebo or exercise equipment.

  • Dear Parks Board,

    We’ll take the funds. Eastwood and Broadmoor Park needs you.


  • Well, that was sure easy. The City of Houston never listened to what I had to say for 25 years.

  • Did I not say “hysterically complaining”?
    Over all the yelling nobody bothered to get the important details. Well, that’s about par for the course.

  • If they wanted to make a park with a gazebo, exercise equipment and lights, they could’ve just added a gazebo to the park that’s three blocks away (you know, the one they already operate, with lots of parking and space, where the new entrance is going to be). None of those things addressed the issues of increased patrol needs, making Sylvan safer for the increased traffic, the fact that there already was enough parking along the street – and an existing, larger, park three blocks away that is more easily monitored by the police and neighborhood.

  • If I lived in an area that needed exercise equipment I’d demand to get the cast offs the city “claims” it was going to put there. It’s odd that even the neighborhood didn’t know about the largess that was flung to be thrust on them by The Parks Department. Could it be that the Parks Dept is trying to make Idylwood look petty by now asserting that they were going to put all goodies into that area, but now since no parking lot no gazebo The entire affair seems odd, id like to know more….where’s Zindler when you need him..oh yeah, he’s….

  • before declining the surface parking, did anyone think about the parking lot being there for the physically disabled that can’t maneuver over the curbs for access?

  • Without sounding crass, why build a 20 space parking lot for 2 (at the most) disabled people. are they going to be inline skating or cycling down the path. We really go over board, I have sympathy for any one disabled, but I see people all over town hop out of there cars in the handicap spaces and skip up to the store, I think a lot are sketchy caregivers driving their wards cars to go but themselves a lotto ticket and pork rynes

  • I wasn’t at the meeting, so can’t say what might have been on any 2009 plan Ms. Powis may have shown there, but the 2013 version of the plan that Ms. Powis emailed the residents complaining about the parking lot showed nothing about any exercise equipment, gazebo or benches. (There were, as you would expect, parking lot light poles.) So if anything else was planned, no one outside of HPB knew it.

  • The funds for the gazebo, exercise equipment, etc… was never approved so it wasn’t part of the plan. It will remain a pretty green space to ride through.

  • “Houston Parks Board rep Jen Powis tells Swamplot that the Idylwood residents “chose to eliminate” the project.”

    Did she also tell Swamplot about the gazebo etc. but failed to add that funding was never approved??

    How ’bout it Allyn?

  • east ender, there will still be a trail access point to the street that cuts through the curb to allow access for the disabled. You don’t need a parking lot for that.

  • In my opinion the things they are now not going to build would not improve that land anyway.
    It is beautiful and serene as is, a gazebo and exercise equipment would not make it more so.
    Every parcel of city owned land does not have to be developed for it to be more better. Bravo for deciding to leave it alone.

  • @ toasty – reminds me of the Hippocratic Oath – First, do no harm.

  • In fact, the Gazebo and all the other amenities was not allocated money and would not have been included. The lot, only 6 cars would be redundent as the street is wider than most and has plenty of room for far more than 6 cars.