Created by city ordinance on March 15, 1916, the Department of Public Parks, as it was called at the time, began with two facilities, Sam Houston Park and Hermann Park. (Code of Ordinances, City of Houston, Chapter 32, Article 1, Section 32-2) Today, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) system includes 365 developed parks and more than 220 greenspaces totaling over 37,851 acres.
On October 15, 2008, the department became one of only seventy-nine agencies in the country to have received national accreditation through the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). This peer assessment and self-evaluation process provides external recognition of an organization's commitment to quality and improvement. The department was reaccredited in 2013 at the National Recreation and Park Association Congress and Exposition held in Houston.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.) is composed of four divisions:
Recreation and Wellness
This division oversees the operation and programming of the department’s 60 community centers, the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center (M.M.S.C.), and the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark.
This division oversees the daily maintenance of Houston’s parkland, esplanades, greenspaces, urban forests and manages the operation of Lake Houston Wilderness Park.
Facilities Management and Development
This division is responsible for the administration of the Parks Master Plan and individual park Master Plans, implements the Capital Improvement Plan (in coordination with the General Service Department), oversees and coordinates park system improvements and expansion, provides Park Administration for Hermann and Memorial Park, and oversees the operation of HPARD’s Urban Park Rangers.
Management and Finance
This division oversees the operations of all aspects of accounting, purchasing, information technology services, safety, and grant writing for the department and includes liaisons for HR, Payroll and Workers Compensation.
FACILITIES AND AMENITIES
183 Basketball Courts (62 Multi-Use Pavilions + 38 Full Courts + 83 Half Courts)
158 Baseball & Softball Fields
75 Baseball Practice Backstops
60 Community Centers
5 Disc Golf Courses
8 Dog Parks
5 Fitness Centers (staffed)
15 Football /Rugby/ Cricket/ Lacrosse Fields
7 Golf Courses (eighteen-hole)
1 Golf Course Junior (nine – hole course)
1 Metropolitan Multi-Service Center
138 Miles of Trails
4 Nature Centers
37 Pools (Outdoor)
1 Pool (Indoor for People With Disabilities)
6 Playgrounds (Accessible or exceed ADA requirements)
5 Skateparks (Above Ground)
1 Skatepark (In-Ground Lee and Joe JamailSkatepark)
86 Soccer Fields
3 Tennis Centers
204 Tennis Courts
28 Tennis Backstops
9 Urban Garden Sites
17 Volleyball courts
23 Water Spraygrounds
13 Weight Rooms (no staff)