The city of Houston formally agreed Monday to purchase and preserve the West 11th Street Park, a 20-acre wooded enclave in northwest Houston coveted by developers, but the park may lose as much as a fourth of its area as part of the deal.
The city will buy the site for $9.2 million from the Houston Independent School District, which declared the property surplus in 2004. Residents of the surrounding Timbergove Manor subdivision have used the site as a park since the 1950s, and it has become an important habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
"It's a big step," said Roksan Okan-Vick, director of the nonprofit Houston Parks Board, which helps the city acquire land for parks.
The city donated $4 million, and the parks board and other groups raised an additional $1.7 million, leaving the board $3.5 million short of its goal.
Amegy Bank has agreed to lend the board up to this amount, secured by five acres on the southwest part of the site that would be sold, if necessary, to repay the loan, Okan-Vick said. It's the first time in its 30-year history that the board has sought a loan to obtain park land.
"It's a creative way to get around what could have been a great loss," Okan-Vick said.
The portion designated as collateral for the loan has fewer trees than the rest of the property, she said, and development there would have less impact on wildlife.