Golfers and Gardeners Get Ground Rules for Grabbing Gus Wortham Park

GOLFERS AND GARDENERS GET GROUND RULES FOR GRABBING GUS WORTHAM PARK Gus Wortham Park Golf Course, 7000 Capitol St., East End, HoustonThe deadline for the Houston Golf Association to raise the $15 million the city says it’ll need to save and restore the Gus Wortham Park golf course at Lawndale and Wayside will be the end of next year, Gail Delaughter reports. If the nonprofit organization can’t meet that goal, the city will have a separate set of fundraising goals set up for the group that wants to scrap the greens and build a botanic garden at the 150-acre site, which lies just a couple blocks south of the coming far eastern extension of Metro’s East End light-rail line. If Gus Wortham golf supporters do come up with the funds, the botanical garden will likely be planned for the Glenbrook Park golf course on the northeast side of the Gulf Fwy. outside the loop. The targets and dates will be encoded in separate contracts the city is putting together with the 2 groups and put up for a vote in city council sometime this month. [Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Houston Parks Board

32 Comment

  • Good lord please don’t build a botanical garden down at glennbrook.

  • Glenbrook would be a disaster. I’m not sure you could get people to Gus Wortham for a Botanical Garden much less Glenbrook. Ft Worth’s Botanical Garden is in a nice part of town as is Dallas’s and San Antonio’s. You don’t purposely put a Botanical Garden in a bad part of town. Why is this not going into Memorial or Hermann? I have no f@@king clue why these people insist on this being on the Eastside. It seems nobody on that side of town wants this project, so why ram it down their throats when other parts of town would love to have it. Leave it to Houston to fuck up everything.

  • Here’s an idea that would appease both sides – give the park foundation Gus Wortham in exchange for foundation donating cash to repair and maintain Glenbrook, which is the better of the two facilities. Both courses are in disrepair, but Wortham is in far worse shape – I would be shocked if the HGA raises anything for Gus Wortham. End result is we get the Gardens with light rail access and golfers get one decent public course in exchange for two crappy ones.

  • @Shannon: You don’t live or work in the East End and you certainly don’t attend meetings of its very active civic associations or its SuperNeighborhood organization, so how do you know what area residents want? I’m one of “these people” and I live in this “bad part of town”. If other parts of Houston would “love to have” a botanical garden, plans — and financing — for it would have been in place a long time ago.

    Note: the words in quotation marks are from your post.

  • Glenbrook is a bad idea because its too far out of town. Gus Wortham though is not a bad location. You are right near the University and you are nestled against Idlewood, a beautiful neighborhood, and you’re right off of 90. Herman Park would probably be the ideal location for a botanical garden but I don’t see that happening.

    Also, @ Shannon, I’m not sure how much you know about Ft Worth but that wasn’t always the nice part of town. Go just a hair east of there and you hit Arlington Heights Highschool which used to be a pretty poor part of town. Now those are super rich/shmancey , but it wasn’t always like that.

    I’m not sure you know much about the East End either. It’s poised to be a pretty prosperous neighborhood. People don’t develop real estate for yesterday or today, they do it for tomorrow. And tomorrow looks pretty darned good for that area.

  • Whoops. Arlington Heights is a hair west. Scuse me. East of there actually used to be even worse.

  • I know a lot about Ft Worth. The Botanical Garden is near the Zoo, Colonial Country Club, TCU, The Amon Carter, the Kimbel and for years Arlington Heights was the nicest part of the city and it’s still one of the most desirable parts of town. I think it’s you that doesn’t know Ft Worth. The area around GW and Glenbrook have never been near the best parts of Houston. As for people in that area being against the Botanical Garden–read the Chronicle and see the visceral reaction the Mayor received at that “meeting” and to say most of this area isn’t undesireable is absurd. This has never been a great part of town –get real. Eastwood, Idylwood are ok, but the rest is not great. I’m sorry I didn’t realize the area used to be River Oaks, I had no idea, please educate me on this area being Houston’s version of Beverly Hills.

  • Actually Shannon, that area around the Glenbrook golf course did used to be a very good part of town. Obviously that was a while ago, but to say it never was good, well, you don’t know Houston history quite as well as you think. The first upscale retail to be built outside of downtown was at Gulfgate. Sakowitz put their first “suburban” store there, before they built on Post Oak. There was a reason. That end of town warranted the first upscale retail outside of downtown and supported it for decades. Park Place was platted in 1912, originally its own incorporated city at one point. In the 50’s Glenbrook Valley had houses as expensive as River Oaks. Certainly the argument about its current state is one thing, but to say it was never nice, you don’t know what you are talking about, sorry.

  • Wortham’s the best spot for a botanic garden in Houston. Rail soon to be a block away, Bray’s Bayou on one side with hike and bike trails, a small creek within it, small hills, mature trees, minutes to DT/Convention Center and in an area that is transforming for the better and should stay that way for a long time. I go by there several times a week and there might be a handful of golfers during the day. I doubt that would change much even if they spiffed it up. And the site is relatively quiet. A botanic garden should be a place of peace. Wayside is right there but there are no freeways anywhere near. A soundwall would be a good feature. Glenbrook is close enough to the 45 that the roar of the rat race will be everpresent. And FYI, that area (Park Place) WAS once a very nice part of town back in say, the 1920s-30s but now it’s pretty much a mess with no near-term prospects for change.

  • Seriously, River Oaks???– No neighborhood has ever challenged River Oaks for supremacy, except maybe Broad Oaks and Shadyside back in the day. I appreciate all the jingoism for the East End, but River Oaks–I’m mean SERIOUSLY. And I just disagree totally on Ft Worth but whatever ..moving on

  • Shannon your reading and comprehension skills seem to be a bit off today. No one said anything challenging River Oaks, just that there was some pricing overlap. For what you would have paid for some of the nicer homes in some of that are back in the 50’s, that same amount could have bought you a sizeable home in River Oaks back then.

  • It’s just an absurd place to put a Botanical Garden. Memorial or Hermann make sense, GW or Glenbrook do not. It seems the majority on that side of town would rather keep the golf course and I agree. Again I have no idea why they’re trying to close golf courses when you have 1466 acres in Memorial Park, where it would actually get used!!! How many people are going to make that trip for a Botanical Garden? Memorial and Hermann are enormously popular and the Botanical Garden would benefit by the popularity of those parks. Who is naturally going to be around GW or Glenbrook that would bring large attendance numbers to this non profit Botanical Garden? If they do build it there it will hemorrhage money and will always be in the Red, constantly needing to be bailed out, no way will it be self sufficient and those who say it will be are not being realistic.

  • I don’t normally do this, but I actually agree with Shannon on this one.

    It seems to me that Hermann Park offers the better location. Its under-utilized southern and eastern peripheries would be well-suited to a botanical garden. Siting it there would allow it to be more easily enjoyed by employees and visitors to the TMC, by those scant few tourists that Houston draws upon, and by those residents of Houston that might conflate a shabby-looking neighborhood with crime or some other factor(s) that chafe against their thin-skinned egos and put them off. That last category is an important one because that’s where big donations are most likely to come from; and if you can sell the prospect of donation in connection with the TMC and cancer patients or anything like that, then it becomes all that much more viable of a project over the long run. If we ignore that part of it, then most likely what we will end up with will be a rather mundane and forgettable amenity — and one that has to wait for the East End to catch up with it in order to really come into bloom, so to speak.

    On a project like this, Shannon’s unenlightened opinion is chirpy shrill-tweeted voice of the canary in a coal mine. Annoying as fuck, but often necessary.

  • For a botanic garden, I’m sure Hermann would ultimately be a better choice–Memorial not so much as all of the tree huggers would be gnashing their teeth and raising hell over cutting down the pine trees, etc……
    and Glenbrook–no way that’s too far off the beaten path. But to say no one would go to the East End is kind of ridiculous. People drive 35+ miles from Houston to see a bunch of stars from yesteryear perform at the Cynthia Woods Pavillion so a 4 mile trek from Downtown really isn’t unthinkable. Have you ever seen the lines at Ninfa’s or El Tiempo? The East End may not be Tanglewood but it isn’t that bad overall in my opinion it is better than The Heights was 15-20 years ago. And in ten years, no doubt much of it will be transformed and this could be a catalyst. For heaven’s sake–University of Houston is in by far the crappiest area of town yet people go there for events too. And if this is done through private funding and it goes belly up–the City still owns the property and it could easily become a public park. One thing the city could do (haha as if….) would be to make Wayside a boulevard so there is more of an “entrance” –plus the street needs to be widened anyway.

  • Hmmmm, yes—with friends like you, Niche, who needs enemies. I’m confused how my comment which you seem to agree with is somehow not “enlightened” and I’m referred to as a Canary in a coal mine. Lol, what an analogy. Oh and ironically I actually have a Canary and he is not pleased at being referred to as shrill and frankly neither am I. Oh look he’s singing a little song for you –hmmm, what he’s singing to you is not fit to print.

  • @Shannon……………Mr. Ross, president of the HBG lives in your neighborhood. Perhaps you could chat him up and convince him (and the money behind him) to abandon Gus. If you’re successful, grateful east enders could fund a statue of you for the entrance to the course.

  • This is a Botanical Garden not a concert venue or an over rated Mexican Restaurant. Your argument makes no sense, you’re comparing Apples to Oranges. The people who visit Botanical Gardens are not going to drive off the beaten path into the barrio I can assure you, it will struggle and constantly need bailing out. Hermann and Memorial have a very strong Conservancy that would help to insure the success of a Botanical Garden. My grandmother is the type to volunteer and visit a Botanical Garden, she would certainly visit and volunteer if it were in Hermann or Memorial but at GW or Glenbrook she may go once for the novelty but that would be about it and she certainly would not financially support it, she’s as perplexed as I am about the insistance on an Eastside location. These people want their Golf Courses and I agree, let them keep them. As for “tree huggers” in Memorial– have too seen the park lately, uh there are no trees, so your point is moot. There are plenty of places that would work in that park particularly along the Bayou. I agree this person who called themselves TheNiche (I guess thecubbyhole was taken) that Hermann is the best choice and you certainly could mine the TMC for donations and contributions. Yes, I rarely agree with TheNiche, he/she/it is like the bone rattling yap of a chihuahua nipping at your heels, you want to kick it but you know if you do you’ll just make it more squeal worse.

  • I’ll work on that @been there. I think it’s an historic course that should stay just that. I’d look good in bronze, I resemble Guy Pierce in Priscilla Queen of the Desert (sans Drag). Please don’t put me under a tree, for obvious reasons.

  • Shannon oh please forgive my ignorance. I didn’t realize that you and Grandmama are the recognized authorities on the motivations of people who visit botanical gardens. I suppose I can see your point about narrow minded WASPs too afraid to leave their comfort zone to experience anything other than a hat parade at ROCC. Also thanks for illuminating me on Memorial Park too. One thing puzzles me though. In order to put it by the bayou, wouldn’t you have to cut what little trees are left in order for the plants to grow ? Let alone clearing more trees to construct a new parking lot? I guess the 4/14 Google Earth image of the park must be wrong since it appears to be one of the most heavily wooded tracts in the city. The fact that you can solve the Botanic Garden problem by just making a proclamation fascinates me but I must wonder why are you wasting time on such trivia when you could assist Bibi in solving the Palestinian crisis?

  • I have to disagree with Shannon and others who say Glenbrook would be a bad location. Most Houstonians are used to driving and would not mind a 20 min drive to visit a botanical garden. As for comments about not wanting to drive through that part of town, as long as it is right off a freeway (which Glenbrook is) few people will be deterred.

    Keep in mind that also more potential visitors live down the I-45 corridor than live in the western half of the loop. They will see a garden with quick freeway access as a big plus.

  • @ JT: Yes, I agree with you about the East End not being so bad. OTOH, I would absolutely positively disagree with you at all that UH is in the worst part of town; it’s only the worst part of town that most middle- or upper-class folks will ever have to visit. The worst parts of town (in the per capita sense), people like use probably don’t even know where they are precisely. The thing is — reality is a moot point. A botanical garden has a supremely more fickle pool of prospects as high net worth donors than does a 40,000-student public university or a big performance venue with stage acts that draw crowds of thousands of people at a time. Yes, we actually are talking about Shannon’s grandmother being the make-or-break consideration. That’s where the money is and that’s the sort of person that’d be willing to part with it for an end-of-life vanity project like this one that the city won’t fund outright and that’ll never pay its operating budget through ticket sales if its a project worth having around in the first place.

    Re: The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, that’s somewhat of an exceptional case. It may have had something to do, though, with her and her family having developed The Woodlands and that they lived up that way.

  • Perhaps Hermann would be a better choice, Memorial has lost an abundance of trees and to advocate removing more might be a tough sell I’ll admit. The reason I brought up my dear grand ma am was simply to show what a typical patron of a Botanical Garden might perhaps feel about certain locations, she does represent the type that visites and patronizes Botanical Gardens. Hermann does make the most sense and would be the most successful choice terms of patronage and contributions. The type of people who visit Botanical Gardens would certainly prefer a more assessable location and with a tie in with the TMC it really couldn’t fail. As for JT or Doofus or whatever you call yourself , take it easy dude, it’s only a thread of a blog, it’s not worth a spike in blood pressure, you really do need yoga and an anger management coach.

  • GW should be renovated. It is and has always been the ideal area for an affordable golf course available to low income residents and would also be a great place for a First Tee facility to service the youth of the area.

    As for the botanical garden I would look at where the greenhouse and service facilities are in Memorial Park. The service facilities are an eyesore for the park. A botanical garden there would be a great compliment to the arboretum down the road.

  • I think part of the attraction of the Gus Wortham is that, besides the undulating topography, it is iirc a native hardwood area, unlike the native pine areas of Memorial and Hermann. I think hardwoods are a bit more attractive for a botanical garden. The pine forest at Memorial has kind of a gloomy feel, and on the southeastern fringe of Hermann Park it would be a bit marginalized by the other attractions there.

    GW has wonderful topography with an up-and-coming location. I remember visiting some relatives at the cemetery over there and looking around and thinking, wow, this place reminds me of some grand urban park in a northern city (trying to avoid the Central Park cliche). I think if this gets done, people are going to go there and discover a different Houston.

  • I tried to add a humorous comment, but I think I stepped over the line. So I’ll try with less humor this time.

    “The people who visit Botanical Gardens are not going to drive off the beaten path into the barrio I can assure you …” — Shannon

    That assumes the people who visit botanical gardens aren’t living in “the barrio” to start with. Based on the latest demographic data, the majority of Houstonians live in a barrio of one sort or another.

  • @memebag—I’m just stating a fact…and I don’t live in a barrio or anywhere close to one and very few people I know do. I guess you’re referring to Houston being 40 percent Hispanic, and trying (unsuccessfully) to be funny, who knows. The Eastside was the original Houston Barrio and that’s great, but you don’t see many Botanical Gardens in a Barrio and that’s just a fact. You have to look at the demographic that pays 15 dollars to visit a Botanical Garden and donate money to keep it a float and few live on Navigation…but feel free to argue away, that’s what this thread is for…enjoy

  • So most of the places you mentioned around the Garden in Ft Worth are south of there, no doubt, that area is nice, although take a turn down bluebonnet circle and you go by crazy Agnes and the steel mill. Or you turn off on rosemont. But the medical center to the east of it? That was a shithole until about 20 years ago. North are the museums, which are nice. Unless you went another half mile past them and then you entered craptown again. This has definitely changed now, that area is lousy with redevelopment. Ft Worth has been doing great for decades now so it’s much different than it used to be, but that botanic garden has been around for almost a century now.
    And it’s not like Herman Park is surrounded on all sides by wealth. Up until maybe 5 years ago Almeda was a skanky mess.

    Anyways, none of this really matters. The biggest problem houston will have with a botanic garden is the (current) lack of any real Master Gardeners. They imploded pretty spectacularly sometime this year and without them you won’t be able to maintain something like that. The Ft Worth botanic Garden is heavily staffed by free master Gardeners. In fact they just got a multi million dollar donation from the estate of a recently passed master gardener which is being used to build out a large area over by the rose garden/terrace.
    Without a strong Master Gardener program in Houston I don’t think we could follow the free model maintained in Ft Worth.

  • @MrEction—-agreed

  • @MrEction……..I was told that the ROGC ladies have their eyes set on putting their talents to use in a botanic garden.
    @Mike….what makes you think that all those nice hardwood trees would stay in a botanic garden?

  • @Shannon, your comments are “not enlightened” because you obviously know nothing of the history of Houston. Houston Country Club, look it up.

  • I know all about the history of HCC and how and why it was moved to Tanglewood area. I also know who Gus Wortham was an why this course in named for him. I’m aware of the history of the course which is why I’ve been advocating on this thread to save it as a golf course. If however, we must chose between this land and Glenbrook for a BG, then GW most certainly would be a much better choice, it’s a prettier piece of land, better location. Glenbrook as a choice would be a disaster. I can’t see a BG at Glenwood being successful, I guess if you have layover at Hobby you could venture over. Ugh, what a horrid location for a BG. Even McGreg would be a better choice.