Who says Harris County is flat? Not County Commissioner Steve Radack, who is building a hill in Hockley for soap box derby enthusiasts.
It is a vision seven years in the making for Radack, who predicts the hill will draw hundreds of derby enthusiasts from around the region and across the country, along with runners, hikers and possibly even skateboarders. Built using dirt excavated to create a chain of lakes at Katy's Paul D. Rushing Park, the 50-foot incline will allow the motorless cars to zip downward with the aid of gravity at speeds approaching 35 mph.
The project's estimated price tag has grown from $300,000 to more than $2 million as the plans became more elaborate, including adding an amphitheater on the hillside for concerts and community events. Although the county is facing a budget crunch that has forced some departments to cut spending by millions of dollars, Radack said parks are an ideal investment in a time of economic uncertainty.
"When you think about building something that thousands of families will come to, to provide their kids with space to play and exercise, I mean, that's a big thing we're in business to do," Radack said. "And that's why I continue to build parks."
It is hard to pinpoint exactly how much the county has spent on the hill since the main $6.1 million contract in 2007 covered both excavating the dirt to create the lakes and trucking it 12 miles to build the hill. Radack said most of the money was spent on the lake excavation, but he did not have an exact tally. The hill was finished about a year ago and has been allowed to rest so the dirt can settle and stabilize.