Midtown Park

The Midtown Redevelopment Authority did not like their mini-park’s redo and so they took the brave stance to acknowledge that problem and redo it again. This time they “hit a home run”. The images speak for themselves.

The new park has a small privately operated concession stand with outdoor seating where the fees help defray the cost of park maintenance. Click here for a location map.

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The fountains.

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The no-leash dog area.

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Preserving History During the Conversion to a Park

By Chip Perry.jpgBethel Missionary Baptist Church was in serious need of major repairs when it caught on fire in 2005.  Then Mayor Bill White stepped in to have emergency bracing installed to keep the three remaining walls from collapsing. The City bought the site from the Church–who had already moved to a new location before the fire–with the intent to create a historic park.

Most of the story is contained in a well-written article by Lisa Gray published 12/8/2013 in the Houston Chronicle. The rewarding part, at least to me, was the archeological work inserted into the construction process as construction got underwayHouston-20130607-01917.jpg.

The project was large enough that an archeological phase 1 was required.  You might say that should not matter and do it anyway. But, public funds can only be spent on required things or services; not what any staff member thinks is eligible. So, we had to find a way to do it anyway.

Dr. Ken Brown’s students (from University of Houston) were working in the area on early African American culture. He was particularly interested in what the original residents or their ancestors brought with them from Africa. The dirt below the remains of the old church could hold a host of information and artifacts. He was joined by the Community Archeology Research Institute (CARI) lead by Dr. Carol McDavid. They figured out how to work hours and times that fit into the construction process. 2013-05-09 12.59.49.jpgThe contractor, Turner Construction, Inc., worked with CARI, Dr. Brown and city staff to allow the on-site digs by students to occur.  Much credit and thanks is due Turner’s staff for helping this effort to succeed.

Ms. Gray’s article relates well what I enjoyed hearing Dr. Brown and Dr. McDavid tell us on more than one occasion.

Go to the post Bethel Park Respecting Memories of Bethel Church  —  Coming Soon.

The New Library Plaza

Library Plaza3.jpgThe Houston Public Central Library in downtown was always a wonderful modern facility with great windows and views in a modern multi-story brick building with escalators. That is a long way from the one where I grew up. But time past and it needed to be updated–particularly to serve the internet connected world.  Along with the inside improvements the outside plaza area was overhauled. Continue reading

Bull Rock Under a Bridge

CIMG6777.JPGBridges have a way of attracting an element of society that is unfortunately something we must deal with — the homeless. This post is  not to propose making their lives harder but rather to share a solution for controlling public space under bridges.

I came across a solution that seems to be almost perfect as it is cheap, no one will steal it, you cannot sleep on it and it should age and discolor evenly and look like other aging concrete structures that are not considered unsightly. Continue reading

Root Memorial Square – aka Root Park

Photo of Root Memorial Park, Houston TXRoot Memorial Square – commonly call Root Park – is in downtown Houston across LaBranch Street from the Toyota Center; home of the Rockets Basketball team. The square was rebuilt in 2004 into a park that commemorated the history of the area and the fans of the basketball team across the street. Originally the block contained the mansion of Alexander Porter Root and his wife, Laura Shepherd Root. The land was donated in their memory by their descendants in 1923. Continue reading

Market Square Park’s Re-opening

CIMG3954.JPGThe contractor’s fence came down as the last minute touches were made getting ready for the opening Saturday. But, for those looking for a place to eat lunch, walk the dog or curious to see the changes the park was “open”.

The concept of the new park, as opposed to the previous concept of an art and historic park, is leading to far more usage. There are the usual benches and stone walkways, fountains, color flower beds, great lighting at night and, in a couple of weeks, a local favorite eatery selling Greek fast food. There was unfettered green space for the dogs but they made that space unappealing to the non-dogs. The new park has a great dog area-the best I have seen-with plastic bag dispensers. Continue reading

Market Square Park–Another Reincarnation

Market Square Park until 2009Market Square Park’s 2nd reincarnation was to the traditional style of being a place to sit and relax when rushing on to the next meeting or for a quiet stroll with your dog-and hopefully a plastic bag. The park included several significant art pieces, two great fountains, interesting historic pieces and numerous oak trees. But it had various issues that did not let it be an asset to the neighborhood. The new park is being constructed at the time of this post and will be complete in June, 2010. Continue reading

Urban Parks: A walk-thru or a destination?

The question in the title to this post comes from my good fortune to have been part of several exteMarketSqParkAerialGoogle.jpgnsive planning sessions for two parks in downtown Houston, Texas and working with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.  The two parks I will use as examples are Discovery Green (recently built and in operation) and the soon to be rebuilt, Market Square Park.  Both are in downtown. The purpose of this post is to share what I believe is an important concept to hopefully peak your interest–then point you to the experts in park planning. Continue reading