February 26, 2008
News coverage of the West 11th Street Park dedication

Well, I failed to find any mainstream media coverage of the West 11th Street Park dedication ceremony, but the person who sent me the word about it was kind enough to forward me these links:


Despite intermittent rain, several dozen people gathered to celebrate the official opening of the 11th Street Park.

It's one of the few remaining large natural forested areas inside the 610 Loop.

Houston Mayor Bill White says the site fits in with the city's overall parks plan.

"Too often we haven't thought ahead about preserving the greenspace that makes our city so special as we've grown. This is part of a whole change in the culture and direction of our city as a result of the fact that we're thinking ahead and preserving more and more of our greenspace and special places and things that make neighborhoods real neighborhoods."


The City of Houston had already pledged $4 million. And community members and philanthropists were able to raise another $1.3 million. Councilmember Toni Lawrence says saving the park was one of the reasons she ran for office.

"At one of the auctions, I bought a picture of this park. I have it hanging in the hallway. And it symbolizes to my staff if you work hard and, excuse me for kind of being emotional at this, this is a very, very important symbol. This is a symbol of working hard, but it's also a symbol of the community."

The 11th Street Park is home to some of the tallest trees inside the loop and is a sanctuary for 101 species of birds.

Houston Community Newspapers:

"This has been a de facto park in the community for years," said Roksan Okan-Vick, executive director of the city's parks board. "The rest of us are just now catching up."

The land had been owned by the Houston Independent School District, which declared the property as surplus when the demographics for a new school at the site and an outcry from the community put an end to those plans.

Civic leaders and the city had worked since 2005 to raise the $9.2 million to retain the area as a park.

An item added to the state's urban park budget by state Sen. John Whitmire accounted for $3.75 million allowing the parks board to acquire the final five acres.

"It's amazing what people can do if we just come together," Whitmire said.

Mayor Bill White said the city had paid a fair price for what is one of the few remaining natural urban forests inside the 610 Loop.

"We rely heavily on private philanthropy in this community," he said, adding that the decision had been an easy one for the City Council.

The Mayor made what I thought was a pretty good point about this, that in a low-tax community it's incumbent on private funding sources to fill in the gaps where needed for that community to be truly livable. There's fodder there for an excellent debate some day. Anyway, just wanted to share these stories. Enjoy!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 26, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston