Game Changer: Parks and Recreation Coming Soon

A proper home for scooters and soccer balls: This 3.4 acre-field just north of the Library Loop Trail on Wilcrest Drive will become one of two parks in Westchase District.

For all the rich amenities in Westchase District – unmatched mobility, award-winning beautifi cation, superior public safety and convenient retail shopping just to name a few – the area historically has been park poor. That’s about to change with the City of Houston’s recent vote to purchase two plots of land in Westchase District for $3.6 million to be used for city parks. One 3.4-acre parcel is on Wilcrest Drive just north of Richmond Avenue and the District’s Library Loop Trail. The other 1.8-acre parcel is on Woodchase Drive just north of the Westpark Tollway.

The vote to purchase the land is the culmination of sustained efforts by the District to partner with the City of Houston to acquire public green space. “This is a huge step forward in realizing a dream of ours to have not just one, but two public parks in Westchase District,” said Jim Murphy, Westchase District’s general manager. “Once the land is secured, we’ll be spending millions in funds from our 380 Area Agreement with the city to equip these parklands with quality amenities for all to enjoy.”

“Tricked out”

The District, Murphy said, will engage in a thorough process of evaluating what the best elements are to put into the park. “We want both parks to be fi rst-class environments that are attractive and inviting,” he said. “These parks will be fully tricked out. I’m talking landscaping and lighting, ongoing security and maintenance, benches, dog park areas and walking paths that connect with other community amenities. I suspect we will see particular equipment that will cater to both the very young as well as to seniors, each of which are signifi cant populations in and around the District.” Murphy added that these are the fi rst public parks to be provided not just in Westchase District but in a much larger area around the region. “The ability to market these parks as part of our package of amenities will be enormously benefi cial to our multifamily communities as well as to our employers and offi ce properties,” he said.

Community support

Reaction from the community has been enthusiastic and positive. The Indonesian Consulate, located at 10370 Richmond Avenune, backs the District’s Library Loop Trail and will be just southwest of the park at Wilcrest. In a letter to Murphy, Henk Edward Saroinsong with the consulate wrote, “…we agree on the project because it is not only benefi cial for the community but will also make the Indonesian Consulate become more strategic and will improve its property value.” Legacy at Westchase Apartments, located at 10070 Westpark Drive, has 323 units and its residents will be a block’s walk from the future park off of Woodchase. “This will be a great feature for our families,” said Liz Romero, regional supervisor with ParaWest Management, the community’s management company. “We haven’t had any parks in the area so this is a welcome opportunity for our residents to get outside, walk their pets and enjoy some fresh air near home.” “We’re excited to learn about these parks coming to Westchase District,” said Leo Tyler, campus pastor with First Methodist Houston, located at 10570 Westpark. “Playing and learning outdoors are healthy activities that can help strengthen families and build a sense of community. That benefi ts not only our church members but other members of the public to whom we minister. Our church’s motto is ‘Your Home in the City,’ and we’re committed to the spiritual wellbeing of the community. Parks are critical to the wellbeing of a city as well and to making an area feel like home.”

Next steps

Once a design fi rm has been selected, the District will begin the planning process in earnest. “We’ll host meetings and actively solicit public input on what features the park should include,” Murphy said. “Design of the parks should take about 10 to 12 months with another year of construction, so I would expect us to open both parks in early 2019.”