$55 Million Buffalo Bayou Park Project Receives Green Light
December 14, 2011 -- Houston City Council today took action that will allow for restoration and transformation of the 2.3 mile section of Buffalo Bayou Park between Shepherd Drive and Sabine Street. The $55 million project is a public-private partnership led by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the City of Houston, Harris County Flood Control District with catalyst funding from the Kinder Foundation. The project will restore the bayou to a more natural and self-sustaining state, reintroduce native landscape and add amenities to enhance safety and convenience for visitors.
“I am thrilled about today’s action and grateful to the Kinder Foundation for its generosity toward this project,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “This is our Central Park. It is where we hold our big festivals and other celebrations. This project will be transformative beyond imagination. The park will be a jewel.”
“This day is historic in many ways,” said Buffalo Bayou Partnership President Anne Olson. “The original vision for this project actually dates back to the 1890s when the City began acquiring this park land. We are now able to fully implement that historic vision.”
Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) actively sought input from interested citizens and stakeholders who live, work and play along Buffalo Bayou. Community meetings were held in the summer and fall of 2010 to review the project concept and seek input. Then, additional community meetings were convened in the fall of 2011 to review the final design.
Construction is slated to begin in mid-2012 with overall project completion expected in mid-2015. In addition to the work by the BBP, Harris County Flood Control District will make channel improvements, including bank stabilization, erosion prevention and removal of non-native vegetation to improve flood conveyance capacity and environmental qualities.
The plan’s key goals include:
- Restoration of natural landscapes, including trees and native grasses
- Provision of areas to walk and hike away from speeding bicycles, opportunities to enjoy nature and places for canoes and kayaks to land
- Safer passages over the bayou away from dangerous roadway bridges
- Additional benches, shade, picnic spots and drinking fountains
- Improved lighting
- Restoration of historic ravines, outfalls and other secondary water features
- Improved access from surrounding neighborhoods
Currently, the City of Houston and Texas Department of Transportation are reconstructing the existing trails. BBP recently completed the upgrading of five Buffalo Bayou Sandy Reed Memorial Trail segments, which was the first step of a major reconstruction which will be complete in May of 2013.
Under the agreement approved by City Council today, BBP will be responsible for construction and future operation and maintenance of the park until 2045, with two additional 25-year renewal options. The City of Houston TIRZ #3 is obligated to pay BBP approximately $2 million annually for maintenance and operations.
Harris County Commissioners Court will consider the agreement next week on behalf of the Flood Control District.
More information and project renderings are available at http://www.buffalobayou.org.