A Way Forward

HPB FY21 ANNUAL REPORT

Connecting Better Parks for Everyone Across Our City

Houston Parks Board is dedicated to improving our city’s greenspaces and being passionate stewards of Houston’s greenways, keeping them beautiful, accessible, safe, and sustainable. That is why our mission is to create, improve, protect, and advocate for parks for everyone.

As Bayou Greenways transforms our City, we continue to be park advocates and a full-service parks team focused on leveraging the power of greenspace to advance equity in our communities. We are investing our time and resources strategically, particularly in neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked access to high quality parks and greenspaces.

Thanks to generous funding from Houston Endowment, we continue to advance our next phase of work. Appropriately called Beyond the Bayous, this next phase will deliver an interconnected system of parks, trails, and open space that advances our equity, connectivity, and resiliency goals. With Bayou Greenways acting as a spine, Beyond the Bayous will connect neighborhoods parks, and greenspaces to the Greenways in an almost infinite number of ways.

We are working hand in hand with Mayor Turner’s team and Greater Houston Partnership to advance the 50/50 Park Partners initiative. Through this innovative public-private partnership, we will improve 50 neighborhood parks through a process focused on equity, community engagement, and long-term sustainable impact by engaging with 50 corporations and businesses.

Houston Parks Board is creating a stronger city, connecting neighborhoods to one another, and connecting people like never before.

Park equity inspires and influences all aspects of the work we are doing.

Thanks to civic leaders and philanthropic organizations who share our vision of park equity and connectivity, Beyond the Bayous has already generated significant private and public investment. Like Bayou Greenways, this will rely on the support of additional partners in the public and private realm. The final stages of Bayou Greenways construction continue as permits and milestones with partners occur. Catalyst funding from the Kinder Foundation, the philanthropic community and bond funds have made this $220-million transformational project a reality.

Our work is made possible through the vital support of many public partners – the City of Houston, Harris County Flood Control District, Harris County Precinct One, and many others. The Houston Parks and Recreation Department remains a primary and vital partner in our joint efforts to manage and protect Houston’s many greenspaces.

Importantly, you are critical to the change we are helping create for all Houstonians. We appreciate deeply your commitment to work with us to create meaningful and transformational change for our city. Our community is part of everything we do, and we are grateful to be doing this work. Thank you for being part of Houston Parks Board and believing in the power of parks.

Barron WallaceCHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
Beth WhitePRESIDENT & CEO

When hard things happen – hurricanes, freezes, floods, or even a pandemic – parks make all of us better equipped to make it through to the other side.

Focused on Equity

Houston Parks Board is committed to equity as a leading principle of our work. We are striving to build a more resilient Houston. We support equity by facilitating, advocating for, and collaborating to achieve equitable access and outcomes wherever possible.

Since 2012, Houston Parks Board has acquired 779 acres of land which is now forever protected as permanent parkland for Houston’s citizens. Of the land acquired, 83% is in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods, 71% is located in the 100-year floodplain, and an additional 19% is located in the 500-year floodplain.

Our membership in the High Line Network, a national association of organizations that share a commitment to transforming underutilized public infrastructure into new urban landscapes, provides a unique opportunity to learn from and share with others undertaking visionary projects focused on equity in cities across the county.

In 2020, Houston Parks Board created an internal Equity Task Force. This staff-led task force engaged in conversation across all departments and levels to create shared definitions, goals, and strategies that will continue to inform our work.

Highlights

April 2021

MacGregor Park Planning Study Begins

June 2021

Vince Bayou Greenway Planning Study completed

March 2021

Plans begin to transform Hill at Sims, 100-acre recreational detention basin, into public park

Confluence mural installed by nationally renowned Ink Dwell studio showcasing migratory birds of Houston’s major waterways

January 2021

San Jacinto Bayou Greenway groundbreaking along the West Fork of the San Jacinto

February 2021

Conclusion of the 1st phase of work for OST/South Union Parks Plan

October 2020

Pasadena City Council approves Pasadena Healthy Parks Plan

Design on critical trail connections from surrounding communities to Mason Park begins, working towards a connected Brays Bayou Greenway

Castillo Park improvements completed within the Near Northside Complete Community to replace picnic tables and BBQ grills, refurbish park benches and re-paint park amenities.

“In addition to having some of the most gorgeous views of the city, Brays Bayou Greenway connects many of the world-class institutions and cultural spaces that make Houston so great.”

Roxanne Almaraz

Getting Closer To What Matters Most

The thing I love the most about Houston is our diversity. It inspires me. As an amateur gardener, I want different plants next to each other. I want it to represent the way I feel about how we interact with each other.

READ MORE

50/50 Park Partners

Mayor Turner and 50/50 Park Partners celebrate a new playground at Hartman Park, the first neighborhood park improvement project as part of 50/50 Park Partners.

READ MORE

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

JUNE 2021

Recreation planning on Vogel Creek Greenway begins

The American Planning Association’s Sustainable Communities Division recognizes Pasadena Healthy Parks Plan

New wetland established at Thomas Bell Foster Park

May 2021

Bayou Greenways Park completion

Construction begins on new segment of Sims Bayou Greenway providing key connection for communities east and west of I-45

April 2021

Hartman Park construction completed, first park of 50/50 Park Partners initiative to receive improvements

Completion of Playground for All at Oak Forest Park

March 2021

Harrisburg-Sunset Trail gateway signs and mile markers installed within the Second Ward Complete Community

February 2021

San Jacinto Bayou Greenway groundbreaking; new trail to provide key connection to Woodland Hills Drive

December 2020

Burnett-Bayland Park improvements complete, new picnic tables and concrete installed

Spring Branch trail segment completion, giant leap towards linking Downtown Houston and West Side: From Addicks Reservoir to White Oak Bayou Greenway and beyond

November 2020

Sims Bayou Greenway new segment groundbreaking; new trail to provide connection and access to green space from Buffalo Speedway to Scott Street

October 2020

Construction begins on Hartman Park, first park to receive improvements as part of Mayor Turner’s 50/50 Park Partners initiative

September 2020

New segments complete along Greens and Sims Bayou Greenways

Construction begins on key Buffalo Bayou Trail connection

July 2020

Native tree nursery established

Confluence Mural

Measuring 223 feet in length, a new public art installation at the confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous, created by artist Jane Kim, co-founder of Ink Dwell, showcases the birds that call Houston’s bayous home and celebrates the Bayou Greenways.

Central to both the bayou system and downtown Houston, Confluence tells a 12-month story of Houston’s migratory birds, and the way in which many birds change color seasonally to attract mates. At the center are six species represented in both their spring breeding plumage and their non-breeding plumage. On the right are three species that winter in Houston; on the left are three species that arrive in the spring to breed.

As with Bayou Greenways and Beyond the Bayous, Confluence is a product of extraordinary public/private partnership, that couldn’t have happened without the support of the City of Houston and Harris County, and in collaboration with Buffalo Bayou Partnership along with the ornithological expertise and programmatic direction of Houston Audubon, and assistance from University of Houston-Downtown.

Special thanks to Laura and Tom Bacon for their unwavering love and support of Houston Parks Board and the Bayou Greenways system.

“White Oak Bayou Greenway provides a much needed escape at a time when we need it the most. Nothing compares to the bluebonnets when they bloom along T.C. Jester.”

Ruthie Miller