No Parking: Idylwood Residents Want Parks Board To Move Proposed Hike and Bike Lot Somewhere Else

Note: Read more about this story here.

First a Walmart, and now a parking lot? Some Idylwood residents are organizing opposition to a 20- or 30-space parking lot proposed for this site by the Houston Parks Board for the Bayou Greenways Project. The parking lot, presumably meant for users of the hike and bike trail to be built at some point along this stretch of Brays Bayou — which slithers beneath I-45 on its way toward U of H and the Med Center — would replace this sylvan knoll in the bayou-hugging ’hood where N. Macgregor Way curves into Sylvan Rd. But residents have some concerns . . .


You can see, in the photos immediately above, some of the trees already ribboned for destruction. And that’s just one of the concerns expressed to Houston Parks Board member Jen Powis:

A lot will mean the flattening and deforestation of one of the few lush and naturally hilly inner loop residential areas of Houston.

The apartment complex that is at the rear of this area already uses this as an unofficial shortcut for autos and pedestrian traffic. This will be used as an annex parking lot for them, their guests, and their nightly outdoor parties.

Gang activities, fighting, truancy, drug use, dumping of mattresses/tires/cats/dogs are all occurring in this space presently. Paving this areas thus enhancing access will just make all of these illegal activities easier to conduct. Our HPD liaison has cited this area as difficult to police. Cars parked here will have no measure of security.

Here’s that “unofficial shortcut” . . .

. . . which leads up that li’l hill and opens up here:

And, with the bayou and Forest Park Cemetery in the background, evidence of “dumping”:

Brays Bayou looking toward I-45:

Photos: Allyn West

42 Comment

  • Is there a single thing ever done in this city without somebody hysterically complaining about it?

  • They have a very peaceful and private street there so it’s understandable they’d prefer keeping it that way. There’s also a single-room occupancy facility that will be around a few bends on that trail which houses various ex-inmates etc. The boat launch is going to be nearby too. Lots of excitement! But it will be hard to somehow bypass and deny the public one of most beautiful sections of the bayou.

  • Would you want a 20 space parking spot on a lot along Buffalo Bayou down a street in the Memorial Villages? Some would be the first in line throwing a hissy fit over their property values and the riff raff and criminal sorts and the aesthetics of paving pristine green space, etc. I completely support these folks, build the lot in an ugly former factory lot of something, not this beautiful green curve in the road, Robert Frost would be appalled;)

  • I’ll tell you that a bike path behind my home has turned what was once a perfectly good natural dirt path into a lycra autobahn. The litter on and in the creek has doubled and the “path closes at dusk” signs don’t deter anyone from traversing or loitering on the path at night. Sour grapes? You bet.

  • @commonsense (please change your misleading moniker), no one is hysterically complaining, we are simply complaining because it will be harmful to our neighborhood. There’s a big back button on most every modern browser. Hit it if you don’t like what yo read. And obviously you don’t live here what is your worry? I do. And is the briliant lunacy of a PARKS DEPARTMENT cutting down trees to make a PARKING LOT lost on everyone?

  • [Corrected typos] @commonsense (please change your misleading moniker), no one is hysterically complaining, we are simply complaining because it will be harmful to our neighborhood. There’s a big back button on most every modern browser. Hit it if you don’t like what you read. And obviously you don’t live here what is your worry? I do. And is the brilliant lunacy of a PARKS DEPARTMENT cutting down trees to make a PARKING LOT lost on everyone?

  • I would think that lighting and giving use to an area would make it less inviting to fighting, truancy, etc, though I can sympathize with not wanting to turn a green area into pavement.

  • I don’t get the sense that the Idylwood folks are objecting to the idea of putting in parking per se, but instead to the location and perhaps the number of spaces. I do see their point – unless there is a ginormous fence or something, a parking lot adjacent to an apartment complex is going to be used by people going in and out of that complex, regardless of who has title. It’s informative that the cops apparently aren’t all that nuts about the idea, either.

  • Yes, Commonsense – most development in Houston goes off without someone whining about it. We just hear about the few cases where it doesn’t.
    In this case the neighbors have very real concerns about dumping and out of control parties at the apartment complex, and it is perfectly understandable that they would bring those up now. Hopefully the Parks Board listens to them and addresses their concerns. There are plenty of other areas close by that would make a lot more sense for a public parking lot and bayou trail access. What about the big green space at the Old Spanish Trail / South Wayside split?

  • As an Idylwood resident who lives less than 100 yards from the proposed parking lot, I don’t understand one thing:

    Who are the mysterious hiker/biker folks who currently need parking spaces?

    I ask because there are not trail users people parking along the street. Nor have there been. In other words, why supply something for which there is no demonstrable demand?


    (I’m not NIMBY Guy, btw. If parking were needed, I wouldn’t object to it.)

  • Idylwood residents are welcoming the trail and those who use and enjoy it. What we do not welcome is a paved parking lot replacing green space. The selcuded locale is inappropriate for multiple reasons: it calls for the destruction of habitat, it will be an unsupervised security nightmare for the patrons and the neighborhood, converting absorbable ground into an impermeable surface contributes to the flooding problem residents deal with presently. Finally, there are numerous areas (I can cite >6) along the bayou within 1/2 mile that are far better suited for this type of use.

  • Part II:

    I’m not aware of future expansion plans (something about a boat launch nearby?. So if that’s a factor, kindly ignore my earlier comment.

  • Yes-who is this parking lot for? The trail is fantastic, but how many people are really going to drive to it, and how many of those people will want to use a lot in a random little neighborhood? Access does *not* look very good from major streets.

  • Idylwood is inbetween Mason Park, Gragg Park and MacGregor Park. There is suitable PUBLIC parking at these PUBLIC parks. It’s inappropriate to put a public parking lot in a residential neighborhood. Removing green space and constructing parking lots is the opposite of what Houston Parks Board – Parks By You proclaimed they would do in their promotional video. If the HPB tries to do this in Idylwood, you can be sure they could try to do it in your neighborhood as well. You may not know that it’s planned, as we didn’t, unless a neighbor just happens to come across a surveyor taking measurements and happens to question what’s going on.

  • As I said, hysterically complaining. If they weren’t doing anything y’all would be hysterically complaining that there is no access to bayou, no parking, the grass is too green, the water is too wet.

  • lol congestion…there is going to be a freaking Wal-Mart a block from you in a couple of months.

  • As a former resident of the neighborhood, it makes no sense from a crime perspective to put in a parking lot (which we all know will not be patrolled by police)in what is a rather secluded corner that is roughly the most remote point away from a major street. Also, to level what is one of what,
    the seven hills of Houston, is just criminal! There are plenty of other spaces along the Bayou for a parking lot. Why not fence the property off from the apartment complex? Lord knows that place has been a pain in Idlywood’s side for
    umpteen years. Why mess with a inner city neighborhood that has held its own and remained largely nice in the midst of a less than desirable surrounding area?

  • It seems absurd to spend money paving parkland into unneeded parking lots. There is ample street parking along the bayou and at better access points.

    This almost seems like a joke… only in houston would the parks department pave parkland and tear down trees for a parking lot no one wants.

  • All progress comes at a cost. They key is measuring the benefits against the downsides. Not being familiar with this area, I can’t speak on this specific issue, though.

  • I just google streetviewed (is this now a verb?) the area in question.
    1.) Wow, this neighborhood/stretch of the bayou is a true hidden gem.
    2.) There seems to be no need for a full on surface parking lot here.
    I agree with the posters who question where the true demand for parking and the inherent disconnect of paving over a park to “help” the park.
    However, the Parks board might see a chance to be proactive on future hike/bike/park parking demand.
    So here’ s my compromise: Put in either permanent angled or parallel parking locations, stripe the to indicate actual lanes, and possibly widen the street if more room is needed for these parking spaces.
    You don’t have a large area to loiter in, it minimizes the destruction of parkland, and it provides a place for those outside the area to park and enjoy a new section of the bayou.
    I’m curious to hear what the residents of the area think.

  • I couldn’t resist:

    (They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot)

    It does seem ironic that a parking lot is needed for a HIKE AND BIKE TRAIL. Can’t they just hike or bike there?!

  • A gentle reminder to everyone that ignoring the trolls in this message thread is the only way to get rid of them. They know who they are and so do we.

    Back in the real world, the Parks Board has to have better uses for its limited funds than laying asphalt on perfectly good park land. If they don’t have better ideas, it may be time for a new board to take over.

  • I don’t get it, there’s 2 parking lots on 75th (less than a mile from this location). There’s a great location for a parking lot on telephone right on the other side of the freeway that looks like it would be a better fit for a parking lot. both 75th and telephone are major roadways, not neighborhood streets which would have to be navigated to reach the parking lot.

  • @Densify & DNAguy:

    Take a little drive out 45 south to Wayside. If you know where Forest Park Lawndale is, you can find Idylwood.

    N. Macgregor Way (it winds into Sylvan and borders the bayou) is already wide enough to park plenty of cars along without being widened.

    And yes Densify, maybe you shouldn’t speak to this issue if you’ve not visited the neighborhood.

    As for Commonsense, he should be ignored completely. He lives in the Memorial Villages and thinks he is way better than anyone else in Houston.

    As far as what area residents think, many have posted here already.

  • Just sign and paint the roadway properly to encourage appropriate on-street parking. Cheaper and more pedestrian friendly.

  • @ Colleen – Just try parking anywhere around Market Square when the spandexed d-bags descend for Critical Mass (oh, how I would love to teleport a few of them into the SF version and watch them freak). It’s the same mindset that goes into making sure that you’ve got the closest parking slot to the door at the gym.

  • 20-30 parking spots for a hike and bike?
    That’s Houston for you.

  • I live in Forest Hill, across Lawndale and the Bayou from Idylwood, and that seems like a very poor choice of location. Are they going to be continuing the trail along that stretch of the bayou soon?

    I have only lived in the area for a year and a half…is anything planned for the site of the apparently closed Monument company on Lawndale that they tore down the front building of last year? A few spots there might be a less intrusive solution.

    The city also owns the golf course, and it has a spur path leading to it…they could add some spots there if there was somehow a desperate need for parking…which I don’t see.

  • Is there any public say in this? Do the board’s plans get voted on? Have the bigwigs already won, again?

  • Parking lot for a bike trail? OMG Houston you’re so “Houston” even when it’s so stupid.

  • Follow the money… that’s the only way to explain this one. Some construction firm needs a back-scratching “bid” for their political support. It’s the way in this town.

  • The open lot at Lawndale and Macgregor makes much morse sense for a parking lot, being on an actual road thoroughfare and all. It makes no sense to put one where they are suggesting. All that being said, why do we need a lot for a bike trail in the first place? Its not a destination, but a path. Idiots.

  • As a resident of Idylwood, I agree that the parking lot is a bad idea for all the reasons mentioned–loss of green space, inviting crime, and being completely superfluous. There is a ridiculously huge amount of street parking right there.

    That said, being a cyclist, I am very much looking forward to having the hike and bike trail extend through the neighborhood. I love riding the Brays Bayou trail, and it will be great to be able to do that without having to drive or take a bus first.

  • Ahh, the resident troll is out today – leading with ad-hominem and finishing with it too. Alas, fortunately he is as irrelevant in this as in every other issue he likes to insert himself. He can tell us what to do when he gets his neighbors to let a trail run down Buffalo through his hood – until then, stay classy – and perhaps he’ll follow his own advice (stay out of our business).

    There are so many other areas nearby where parking lots already exist or can easily fit on much more easy to access land. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind who would think that increasing traffic on Sylvan is a -good- thing. I’m hoping this plan of the HPB’s will be short-lived, I’m certain someone didn’t think this through before throwing that out there.

  • the saddest type of troll is the adult, property owning one.

    my mother lives a block from the proposed site and has told me that every neighbor she spoke to about this is very against it, so i hope they end up having some sway with the parks department. i think the lot would be better suited off telephone.

  • I don’t think this is a good palce for a parking lot, but I don’t think there should be any surprise about having lots for bike/hike trails. That’s how the people who live on the other side of town get their bikes to trails they haven’t ridden before. If I live off Dairy Ashford, and want to ride the trail that goes through Idylwood, I am unlikely to ride my bike all the way across town. I am much more likely to put the bike in the carrier, and drive to where I can get to the trail.

  • I think the objections posed by area residents are justified. When I voted for the bond initiative to create more green space and complete the hike and bike trails, I was unaware that the park board would actually take away green space to put up a parking lot. As others have noted, there are several other more desirable locations along the bayou for a parking lot.

  • The irony is the extent of parking alredy present. The extra wide street adjacent to this area meanders along the bayou for over 1/2 mile, providing extensive parking. Wheat reaches Spurlock Park, parking is available on both sides of the street, making the total linear parking 3/4 mile. Why would an agency with a purported purpose of protection of parkland advocate for destruction of a natural area (that will enhance the experience of users of their trail) when a need doesn’t exist?

  • You need public parking areas for canoe/kayak access, and for those who drive from another part of town to enjoy a ride on a different trail. Also, the trail is currently not used much because it is not yet linked to MacGregor Park and beyond westward. Once it is, there will be more traffic.

    HPB never does anything without forethought and careful planning, and all if their projects fit within a master plan. In this case, I am sure they evaluated parking access up and downstream from this point, and found this to be the most logical and cost effective option.

    One last thing…it’s not “deforestation” unless it involves removing a “forest.” This is just a few trees.

  • The parking lot has been removed from the plan along MacGregor in Idylwood, but the trail will go through so enjoy the view on your ride.

  • The HPB planned well for kayaks and boaters…there is public parking at the boat launch located at the Broadway Trailhead. They anticipate the public parks up and downstream nearby will host the park-and-riders that want to access the trail.

    Sometimes a Master Plan, even a carefully executed one, contains elements that would negatively impact specific areas. The neighbors felt this one did, in spades. I can see how readers and those commenting who don’t live in the area might not have the same perspective that we do.

    The Houston Parks Board was willing to meet with those concerned today and have given us a verbal assurance that they will not pave our habitat for a 19 car trailhead with amenities.

    I am very happy that our rolling hills, trees, and habitat will not be disrupted and that they remain intact for the entire community to enjoy by foot, bike, or boat.

  • There is a similar layout on White Oak Drive and White Oak Bayou west of Houston Avenue…and a similar solution – people parallel park along the street. I suppose we are all entitled to a little brain blockage, as long as we are willing to listen and come up with a good, workable solution.