"They paved paradise. And put up a parking lot." Not only did Joni Mitchell have a gift for lyrics, but she also was a keen observer of the decline of our natural surroundings. So isn't it wonderful when those wrongs get righted through the planning of new green spaces? Here's our look at four initiatives on the horizon: Southern Downtown Park, a new off-leash play area for dogs at Hermann Park, the latest from Bridgeland, and legislation to fund Texas state parks.
Southern Downtown Park
In the block next to Houston House and catty-corner to Skyhouse Houston, look for the development of a new L-shaped Southern Downtown Park. The Downtown Redevelopment Authority has just released design schematics for this new neighborhood park at the 1500 block of Fannin, with Lauren Griffith Associates developing the plans. Construction is set for March 2020, with the expected opening in March 2021.
Features and amenities: A central lawn that can be activated for games or as a seating area for events on the Trellis stage, gardens, dog parks for both small and large breeds, rotating public art installations, bike racks, play areas, and a new cafe with a curving facade. A large walkway will be lined with Live Oak trees, stretching from the southeast corner to the northwest corner.
Gensler is providing architectural services for the site’s fast-casual restaurant, storage building and other structures; Gandy2 Lighting Design is providing lighting services; Kuo & Associates is providing civil engineering; and Waterscape Consultants is providing water feature engineering.
Hermann Park Conservancy is going to the dogs, and that's a good thing. Along with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., the conservancy has been developing a strategic plan for the next 20 years of the popular park, and the new master plan calls for an off-leash dog park. They're repurposing a 2.4 acre segment of Hermann Park that is bordered by South MacGregor Drive and Brays Bayou; it is estimated to be completed in 2021. As with the Southern Downtown Park above, design will be by Houston-based landscape architure firm Lauren Griffith Associates; the same folks who renovated Hermann Park's trail system in 2011.
Features and amenities: Separate play areas for small and large breeds, an interactive water feature, natural shade, surface-level parking, and an improved connection between Brays Bayou and the center of Hermann Park.
Bridgeland®, the master-planned community in Cypress, will soon see the completion of Parkland Common, a trail and park system within Parkland Village. All of the existing north-south trails in that community will connect to this linear park system that will span a mile in length and will only be interrupted twice by streets. The park was made possible, in part, through a pipeline easement within the 11,400-acre development. Construction of the first phase will be completed by summer 2019, with the expected opening at the end of this year (weather permitting).
Features and amenities: Two park nodes will anchor Parkland Common. Monarch Park will feature a butterfly garden, pollinator plants, a shade structure, a Viking swing, and five fitness stations for a full-body workout. Kinetic Park is located close to area schools and includes climbing and play structures.
Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 26 and Senate Joint Resolution 24
Last but certainly not least, it looks like we won't have to pay a dollar and a half to visit the tree museum. Proving that both sides of the aisle can play nice and work together, SB26 and SJR24 have been making their way through the Texas Legislature and, if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, Texans will be able to vote on the initiative in November.
Ever since the 76th Legislature, a portion of sales tax collected from the sale of sporting goods has been dedicated to state and local parks, as well as historic sites, though the percentage fluctuates from year to year. The goal of this bipartisan bill is to dedicate the entire amount of sales tax from the sale of sporting goods toward the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission.