West 11th Street Park in Danger of Destruction

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My aunt called me today to ask me about helping out with saving a park about 10 blocks from me…a park I really love.

For those of you in Houston and, more specifically, inside the loop, there is a really beautiful 21-acre park off of 11th Street very close to TC Jester in Timbergrove (near the Heights). It is quiet with walking/jogging trails, beautiful pine trees and is home to a number of bird and butterfly species you don’t normally find this close to the city.

For years the land has been owned by HISD, who considered putting the campus of HSPVA (the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts) on it a number of years back. The people who live in Timbergrove near the park (it literally covers about a 4-block radius with homes directly across the street) worked to preserve the natural area and were successful. They have since maintained it extremely well including giving weekend walking tours, keeping grassy areas mowed, adding signage and even growing wildflowers.

However, HISD now wants to sell off the land and it has given supporters until the end of the year to raise the needed money. The city has already agreed to provie $4 million to preserve the greenspace and has said it supports efforts to maintain the park as is. The city is trying desperately to preserve and develop greenspace both for quality of life and to curb flooding like the kind seen during Tropical Storm Allison. The dramatic increase in development in the inner city has removed greenspace that previously acted as a natural sponge for rainwater that now just runs off concrete and asphalt into bayous that don’t have the kind of capaicity to carry the volume of water now required.

Friends of the park, who have non-profit status, have raised well over $1 million but still need to go substantially further to keep the park a natural environment.

Developers have already begun lining up to buy the property if it becomes available including Perry Homes, infamous in the Heights for buying single properties and building 2 to 4 homes on a single plot of land, removing completely the original historic homes to do it. The fear is that they would remove the vast majority of the trees and certainly all the habitat to put in some kind of townhome or condo development that would not only destroy the park but not fit in with the historic brick homes in Timbergrove.

If anyone works for an organization willing to help out or is willing to donate funds or is just willing to spread the word, please let me know. Because the park is supported by a non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductibe.

Additionally, there are some links below with additional information:

My Flickr Photoset from the Park
Official Park Website
Houston Audubon Society Info on the Park

UPDATE

For donations, please visit the following link:

http://www.hpbinc.org/west_11th.htm

Also, they are planning a party/fundraiser for October 21 from 10am to 2pm. Should be fun and helpful for the park overall.

UPDATE – October 30

New park website: http://www.savethispark.org/

Nice ring to that website.  It would only be better if it were saveOURpark.org, but that’s just me.  🙂

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