Ordinance Opening Checkbooks, Not Spaces

ORDINANCE OPENING CHECKBOOKS, NOT SPACES How much new parkland has the city acquired since 2007, when it passed the so-called open space ordinance meant to encourage residential developers to donate part of their properties to the public? “Not one acre,” reports the Houston Chronicle. Almost all the developers, reports Jayme Fraser, have “written checks” instead. But the city hasn’t spent the $11 million it has garnered in fees to buy land; much of it, rather, has gone to maintain and add amenities to the parks it already has: “Mark Ross, deputy director of parks development, said neighborhoods often want upgrades that can be easier to fund, such as . . . [a] playground and water fountains . . . . ‘Most of these might be considered minor improvements, but it’s what people appreciate the most,’ Ross said, pointing to 28 projects completed.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo of Mason Park: Jose Luna

12 Comment

  • New water fountains, etc. are nice, but new land is much more difficult to obtain. Amenities to the parks can be added a little at some time in the future as they don’t cost THAT much …. the funding to purchasing new park land is much rarer.

    I prefer one block-sized parks myself, such as Bell St. Park. Not only do they act as a local gathering point but often are improved by the same community in which they are situated. In an ever dense city they become islands of sanity and a refuge that is sorely needed.

  • I like the crocodile tears shed by the builder’s ass’n. Do they really want to compete with the City of Houston to buy large tracts of land? Or are they just putting on a show to try to get the fee repealed?

    The Houston Parks Dep’t is still chronically underfunded, even with the 2012 bond measure. The city needs more splash pads and needs to make improvements to existing parks. Opportunities to buy land for additional parks are few and far between. The city needs to get aggressive with acquisitions before it is too late and stop robbing from Peter to pay Paul.

  • Yet another lesson learned in our great democratic experiment. At least we tried.

  • Land is only getting more expensive. Best to get it sooner rather than later.

  • $7.5 million would have bought the old Wilshire Village Apt. site for a Montrose
    park, but “the city didn’t have the money”
    . . . of course they had the money all the time. And by the way, H.E.B. is not doing
    a very good job of watering and preserving
    the old oak trees . . . (more future parking once they’re killed by indifference)

  • I’m all for parks until they put a fence around it. If you are going to do that then don’t bother.

  • The ordinance was designed to encourage developers to set aside land for open space, but unfortunately, most have elected to pay the city instead. Developers love to talk a good game about green space, but when it comes down to actually providing the land, they don’t.

    If developers truly desire quality of life for residents of their projects, why can’t they give up an acre or two? It would certainly increase the value of the homes. They don’t have to pave over EVERYTHING to make a profit.

  • Again. MORE BS from our two faced government.There is NO accountability: no matter what the current special interest mouthpiece aka the Mayor says. Who,btw, talks a real good game.This scheme (which is EXACTLY what is) was sold as a bill of goods,intended to make the voters/taxpayers/developers feel all warm & fuzzy. And NO results.Like biggie said: the city DID have the $$,but then Mayor ,Bill White ,had direct connections to the whole deal: he was the former CEO of Wedge International.And I bet one of Wedge’s banks held the note on the Wilshire Village property.And HEB ,if you did some investigating, was a large campaign contributor to Whites campaign.And HEB called in a favor or two and the then Mayor bent over and did HEB a favor or two!!! It’s so crooked /corrupt and stinks to high heaven. It’s aka “business”.

  • Agree so much with #1. We need more “island” parks. Disco Green is nice and Memorial is too, but on a normal weeknight, I’m only likely to walk to a small neighborhood park less than 1 mile from home.

    Even a half-block park – 140 ft. by 280 ft. (0.9 acres) – is something that can be built upon, and it can be a gathering place. Maintenance on such a park is miniscule. Wouldn’t mowing and occasional litter removal cost less than $1000 per year? I would think so, but I haven’t looked into it.

    Once such small park which is a smashing success is Baldwin park. It’s about 1.2 acres, but is always well-used in the evenings or on weekends when the weather is half decent.

  • These comments illustrate the lack of understanding people have about parks in Houston. The city of Houston rarely buys parkland and hasn’t for many years. The non-profit Houston Parks Board is purchases new parkland and heads up new development of parks. The vision is to concentrate parkland in Urban areas along the bayous which is accessible to most neighborhoods. Just check out the Houston Parks Board website houstonparksboard.org Learn more about the Bayou Greenways initiative.

    Then post a nonsensical rant if you can’t comprehend….

  • The next 7 years will add 1500 acres of new park land within the city and 80 miles of trails…

    This is also independent of the vast park expansion Harris County is contributing to the region…

    The $11 million dollars is from developments that don’t have room to even give for a usable park and that money bare covers maintenance cost.

  • It’s hard to build lot busters and have green space. Duh. Clearly the checks aren’t being written for enough money if almost all have done so. Raise the fee, see more green space.