April 29, 2007
The clock is ticking for the West 11th Street Park

This does not sound good.

Those who are raising funds to purchase 5 acres of the West 11th Street Park have until August.

That's the time that has been estimated the Houston Parks Board should post the land for sale before a loan secured to purchase those acres becomes due in February 2008.

"Nine months is the time it would take (to complete a sale) and that's probably fairly aggressive to look for the right buyer and find the right buyer so they could get their money in place," Parks Board Executive Director Roksan Okan-Vick said.

"Come the middle of May, we're going to have to start thinking hard about how much time we have left."

Man, that sucks. And this isn't any better:

The $3.5 million, 12-month loan comes due in February 2008, but if the money cannot be raised by August, the Parks Board would need to consider selling the park.

Since taking out the loan, the Parks Board and grass-roots groups have raised about $235,720, according to Kelly Ahrens, who is helping the group Save This Park! with fundraising efforts.

Okan-Vick said the loan is accruing $700 in interest each day, which at some point becomes too big a burden, and selling the land is not necessarily an easy task.

Yeesh. Any sugar mommies or daddies out there want to have a park named for you? It's only three million and change.

If the Parks Board has to sell the 5 acres, Okan-Vick said, "we really want to work with someone who is going to be very responsible with what they construct next to this fabulous park."

Okan-Vick said the Parks Board would only consider selling the 5 acres for residential use.

A small mercy, but not much of one. For better or worse, it'll be high-end townhomes.

[Said Lorraine Cherry, president of Friends of the West 11th Street Park], "It's frustrating, but I understand there are a whole lot of people who need money to do a whole lot of worthwhile things.

"I really do believe we will get the money raised by August."

I hope you're right. If you want to help, here's what you need to know:




Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 29, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston