As development drives up land prices and neighborhood leaders beg for more green space, city officials are preparing to create Houston's first dedicated source of public funds to acquire land for parks.
An ordinance that would require developers to set aside land for parks and green space or pay a fee to purchase parkland should be ready for review within a few weeks, Marlene Gafrick, the city's planning and development director, said Friday.
Houston historically has relied on private donations for new parks. A sustained public funding source is needed to ensure that parks are accessible to the region's rapidly growing population, according to a report published last month by the nonprofit Center for Houston's Future.
While some details of the Houston ordinance must still be worked out, the concept enjoys widespread support among park advocates, neighborhood groups and developers, said Andy Icken, a deputy city public works director who is working on the ordinance.
"In general," he said, "everyone agrees we should do this."
One more thing:
"If we just keep building, building, building on every square inch of green space, then there is no quality of life," said Lorraine Cherry, who is leading a fundraising effort to preserve a 20-acre park in her northwest Houston neighborhood.