Political action committee Parks By You is comprised of citizens dedicated to improving the quality and accessibility of Houston's parks and bayou systems. The group has endorsed the City of Houston's proposed $166 million bond, which will be up for voter approval Nov. 6.
The proposed bond would assist in improving the city's system of bayous and adjacent trails and parks. The initiative aims to improve public health and safety and help enhance water quality and flood control, according to Parks By You.
While a majority of the projects would occur within the City of Houston, there are proposed trails and bayou improvements for Cypress Creek, Greens and White Oak Bayou that would service Northwest Houston. Upon completion, the Cypress Creek trail has the potential to run from Cypress to Kingwood.
“This plan will bring parks to every corner of the city,” said state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and campaign co-chair for Parks By You. “It will improve the health of our citizens, the safety of our children, and compliment ongoing flood control and water quality efforts–this plan is a win-win for Houston.”
The total cost of the project is expected to be about $205 million, which will be comprised of $105 million from state, federal and private funding sources and $100 million from the proposed bond, according to the organization. Citizens and organizations are securing other forms of funding, such as a recent grant from the Department of Transportation, to match the city's bond funds to complete the project within seven years.
The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER grant was awarded in July and gave $15 million to eliminate major gaps in Houston's bike grid by assisting the construction of 7.9 miles of on-street bike lanes, 2.8 miles of sidewalks and 7.5 miles of off-street trails to connect pedestrians and cyclists to available transit services.
The main priority of the bond involves doubling the number of hike and bike trails to a total of about 150 miles and create 2,000 additional acres of parks and green space. Parks By You's plans to connect several of Houston's main waterways including Brays, Buffalo, Greens, Halls, Hunting, Sims and White Oak bayous.
“Mayor Parker's plan will not require an increase in taxes, and this will be a public-private partnership where half the project cost will come from non-city bond sources,” said Ed Wulfe, Parks By You co-chair and finance chairman. “[This] is precisely the type of initiative that will make [the city] a more inviting and appealing city, bringing the companies and workers of tomorrow to Houston.”
Upon completion of the project, Parks By You anticipates more than 75 percent of the city will connect to downtown Houston by way of trails, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to avoid crowded city streets during their commute and placing a majority of Houstonians within a few miles of the parks and green areas.