Nice Park If You Can Get to It, and Other Houston Encapsulations

NICE PARK IF YOU CAN GET TO IT, AND OTHER HOUSTON ENCAPSULATIONS George Ristow’s take for OffCite on the recently unveiled public-private redo of Levy Park? It’s become “one of Houston’s best outdoor public spaces” — as long as you can get yourself there: “The park is tucked away from view, dwarfed by the Kirby Grove building, which undermines its connection [to] Richmond Ave. (bringing visitors from Upper Kirby). Although there are sidewalks immediately surrounding the park, no sidewalk exists on either side of Eastside St. between the park and Richmond. Just one block south of the park, the Southwest Freeway, with a right-of-way as wide as the park itself, walls off West University’s upper reaches as if it were an international border crossing. Consider the Olive Garden restaurant, surrounded by a typical suburban parking lot, built within the same time period as the Levy Park facelift just on the other side of the freeway. Here we have Houston in a nutshell: a state-of-the-art destination public park next to a 19-lane freeway next to a chain restaurant, with no way to walk between them.” [OffCite; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Levy Park Conservancy

11 Comment

  • Knocking a park because of access to the nearest Olive Garden? Are you kidding?
    The last sentence is flat wrong. There are sidewalks on the 59 frontage road and pedestrians can cross under 59 at Buffalo Speedway. Continue on the sidewalk on the north side of the westbound frontage road and turn left on Wakeforest and you’re there. Sure it’s a long walk, but it’s possible and likely easier than climbing the ramps and stairs that would be necessary for a pedestrian overpass at that location.

  • I live nest to the Olive Garden. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked to Levy Park. Back in the day, and now

  • yeah i cant understand why this guy praises how great the park is and then criticises the park’s location in relation to other things which nobody has any control over.

  • Let’s face it …. Levy Park has essentially become a publicly funded/private park for the Kirby Grove developers. It was a great move on their part,even with the redevelopment money spent, to essentially confiscate public property and use public maintenance money while excluding of most by a lack of public parking. What a scam!

  • That park is in a horrendous location. You guys are daft.

  • Parking at Levy Park is no better or worse than parking at Discovery Green, Buffalo Bayou park or Memorial Park. Houston is a big city. Also, there are two restaurants in Kirby Grove, food trucks and pop up bar-b-cue at Levy park on the weekends. BB’s, Jack in the Box and El Tiempo are just a block down Richmond. Not having easy access to an Olive Garden may actually be a good thing.
    The “encapsulation” is actually an excellent idea. The apartment complex on the south side of the park acts as a giant sound wall that keeps the highway noise from 59 from intruding into the park. Before, it was very noisy, especially on the southern edge of the park.
    The land for Levy Park was donated to the city in the 40s back when 59 did not even exist. Yes, the City could have done better planning around the park to better integrate it with the surrounding streetscape. But those decisions were made decades ago. Park space inside the loop is extremely limited and very short on kid friendly spaces. We should be sure to make Levy Park the standard for redeveloping park space inside the loop and not fret about whether kids can walk over to an Olive Garden.

  • The article hit the right nerve, but spent too much time getting into the meat and potatoes.

    Here’s the problem with Levy Park: It, like so many other developments in Houston, exists in an island. It’s almost as if the rest of the city doeskin exist.

    Here are a few reasons why:

    1. Eastside has no sidewalks leading up to the park
    2. Pedestrian signal at Richmond and Eastside give your a whopping 13 seconds to cross. This is neither safe nor comfortable.
    3.There is no pedestrian crossing/signal at Wakeforest, which increases the time someone must travel on foot to access the site.
    4. Sidewalks north of Richmond on Eastside are non-compliant.

    If there was a concerted and comprehensive approach to planning this park, then these would have been some of the concerns addressed. The problem is, the park was never designed to be walked to, despite being surrounded by residential and commercial uses.

  • All of you people pointing out that there are no sidewalks on Eastside are nit-picky. The part of Eastside on which Levy Park sits is a DEAD-END STREET. There is little to no traffic on it. The only cars you’ll encounter are going to or from the apartments or the park, and they can’t get up that much speed in the one block stretch. If you’re able, walk in the grass or in the street next to the curb. If you have a mobility impairment, the street isn’t that bad for wheeling in, until someone sues the city to put in sidewalks.

  • The problem, Anon, is that pedestrians and people on bicycles must be given equal consideration. The area is welcoming to drivers and a deterant to everyone else. As I said again, the park exists in a silo…Also, suggesting that someone with “mobility impairment” “wheel” in the street is shameful.


  • Today’s life lesson reminder: some people are never happy about anything, and will complain about everything.

  • Re Levy Park and walkability: Last night I walked to Levy Park from the other side of Shepherd. I was able to use sidewalks the entire way there. For getting from Richmond to the park itself, the trick is to take Wakeforest. The park spans the entire width between Eastside and Wakeforest. Wakeforest has sidewalks — and ADA ramps — while Eastside doesn’t.
    That’s the good part. The bad part is that it didn’t seem like there was much of a park to go to anymore. It used to have a ballfield and an open space to play in, and now it’s all fakely manicured, landscaped fake hills and chairs where zombies can sit and stare at their cellphones. Also there was a heavy smell of dog crap from the dog owners who don’t pick up after themselves.