August 18, 2008
Discovery Green update

I don't know about you, but I think Discovery Green is pretty awesome.

Houston's only major downtown park has settled into a rhythm four months after its April 13 opening. The enormous crowds of the first few weeks, which taxed the 12-acre park's capacity and necessitated hiring more employees to watch the swarms of kids, have subsided to consistently high but manageable levels, park officials said.

Employees estimate that almost a quarter-million people visited the park between opening day and June 30, including more than 75,000 who attended concerts and other special events. The estimates were made by comparing the size of crowds with the police department's estimate of 30,000 people who went to the park on opening day, said Susanne Theis, programming director.

The girls love Discovery Green. We've been there several times, to play in the fountain and on the playground equipment. Every time we pass through downtown on the Pierce Elevated, Olivia says "that's where the downtown park is". There's people there, including plenty of kids, but it hasn't been too crowded, and we've always been able to find parking within a couple of blocks. Given how hard it can be to find cheap, kid-friendly stuff to do on a hot weekend, the place has come in very handy for us.

[T]he major concerns expressed by skeptics prior to its opening -- that hordes of homeless people would trash the place, that no one from the suburbs would visit, that interest would evaporate after the opening-day buzz faded -- haven't materialized.

The continuous activity in the park seems to have discouraged homeless people from gathering in large numbers, though a few show up from time to time, said Guy Hagstette, Discovery Green's director.

Park employees have spoken to visitors from The Woodlands, Sugar Land and other locations throughout Houston and its suburbs.

What a shock to learn that the whiners were wrong. I haven't seen any homeless folks in the park in the times I've been. Tiffany, who's there every Thursday afternoon at the Green Market, says the same. It's just not been an issue.

(On a tangential note, one other nice feature of Discovery Green and Green Market is that any leftover produce from the market gets donated to The Beacon.)

Anyway, I think the place is a great addition to Houston's scene. Who else visited, and what do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

UPDATE: What Jeff says.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 18, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

** I don't know about you, but I think Discovery Green is pretty awesome. **
No, really? REALLY?

Of course, it could probably be argued that dropping so many millions in such a small space OUGHT to result in "awesome" eh?

Longer term, we'll certainly see how the homeless problem works out, once the shiny new trinket is a little less shiny. Maybe the homeless simply be displaced to other parts of downtown that haven't seen millions invested. And maybe the affluent types who will reside in the new tower next door and need a place to pee their pets will ensure the homeless never become a problem in their park (err, the people's park). It helps to have the mayor's cell # for problems like that, and $$$$ help in that regard. Too bad all of downtown and midtown can't have that treatment, huh?

Posted by: Kevin Whited on August 18, 2008 9:38 AM

I agree - it is a very good addition to downtown. I've been a few times so far - before an Astros game, and just to go to the park for the special programming they have there.

My only disappointment is that I haven't heard any talk yet of expansion of the park, or even how expansion would be evaluated. I am not expecting it to happen tomorrow or even next year, but I would expect downtown to ultimately have much bigger than an 11 acre park. There are lots of parking lots just waiting to be put to better use...

Posted by: Mike on August 18, 2008 10:24 AM

And the whining continues. Funny how you mention the charitable aspect of the Farmer's Market and all Kevin can still find in his heart is to call names and literally add urine into the mix. This is what's become of our conservative friends?

I can't help but think if the same type of investment happened in Sugar Land or The Woodlands (or Spring!), there'd be no problem with the scale of investment. But since the mayor's got a D next to his name, there's much more fun to be had spinning talking points against the other side.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on August 18, 2008 10:42 AM

I hadn't heard of this, but it sounds great. I would be surprised if it DIDN'T succeed, because families with kids are always looking for somewhere to go that doesn't cost much.

Posted by: hope on August 18, 2008 7:08 PM

I, too, love Discovery Green, especially for the performance stage and the couple of really great shows I've seen there. Downtown needed this. I expect it to continue to be awesome. Also? The Dyson hand dryers in the bathrooms? AWESOME. Also? Drinks at the bar on top of the Grove? AWESOME. AND NOT TERRIBLY EXPENSIVE. Also? I'm not rich. I've never spoken with the mayor, though I'd like to. I still love the park.

Posted by: Sara on August 18, 2008 10:34 PM
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)