February 22, 2019
A Message About Parks from Mayor Sylvester Turner and Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve Wright
As mayor and director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, we understand that good neighborhood parks have the ability transform a community.
One of us, the mayor, grew up near a neighborhood park in Acres Homes, and it was at his neighborhood park that he realized that a city does not simply build parks and playgrounds; it builds communities. As a city we must make our parks the best they can be.
Our goal is “park equity,” meaning that everyone all over the city gets to enjoy a good park in their community. But building and maintaining these parks takes commitment, collaboration, and financial resources, and in a city like Houston, money is always an issue when it comes to getting things done.
As the City faces a budget crunch due to the passage of Proposition B, which grants Houston firefighters equal pay to police at a cost of more than $100 million a year to the City, the financial hit may force a reduction in city services, including at parks.
But at the same time, the City has worked alongside our partners in the public and private sectors to find funds and other resources for park equity.
Completed and in-progress projects funded through foundations, private donations, corporations, grants, and capital improvement monies include:
- The renovation of Busby Park and the Lansdale Park Pavilion.
- The new Judson Robinson Sr. Center in Pleasantville.
- The reorganization of Squatty Lyons Park and Complex and the new Neighborhood Center in Alief.
- The renovation of community playgrounds at Harwin Park, Boone Road Park, the soon to be completed playground in Judson Robinson Jr. Park, and a new playground in Linkwood Park.
Yes, balancing the budget this year comes with greater challenges, and likewise many Houstonians still face post-Hurricane Harvey recovery struggles.
But parks offer something for everyone regardless of socioeconomic status: a place where anyone can unwind from stress. Improving and maintaining a good park system is a crucial investment that yields far-reaching benefits.
We will continue working with city employees, all stakeholders and the public to create and improve more parks in more neighborhoods for the good of us all.