West 11th Street Park

Information:
 Address: 2600 W. 11th,
                 Houston, TX 77008
 Acquired: 2007
 Acreage:  20.21
 Council District: C
Houston Service Helpline:
To request park repairs please call 311 or 713.837.0311 or submit your request online by clicking this link.

PARK HISTORY

West 11th Street Park was originally part of the vast holdings of William C. Hogg, brother of Miss Ima Hogg, and the original developer of River Oaks. Upon his passing in 1930, he left most of his estate to the University of Texas, where he had earned his law degree and later served as regent. The University of Texas owned the property until they sold it to the Houston Independent School District (HISD) in 1949.

Because public money was used for this transaction, HISD had a responsibility to use the property, preserve it for future use, or sell it for a fair market price. For the next 50 years this discussion regarding building or selling the property continued. During that time, the West 11th Street property served as a de facto park for the community.

In 1998, HISD began discussions about building a new campus for the High School for Performing and Visual Arts on the site. A group of concerned neighbors to the site organized a petition drive to preserve the property as a park – the drive resulted in signatures from 90% of the 1,245 homes in Timbergrove in favor of preservation. As a result of this desire by the residents the City of Houston entered a 5-year lease agreement with HISD in November of 2000 to maintain and operate the property as a park.

In 2005, HISD decided that the property, now known as West 11th Street Park, should be deemed surplus property and released for sale at auction to the highest bidder. Local developers were lined up to bid, with one plan calling for the construction of over 500 town homes on the site. Timbergrove residents again became involved in preserving the land as a park. They mounted a massive letter-writing campaign, and persuaded HISD to hold back temporarily. At the same time, the Friends of West 11th Street Park, in conjunction with the Houston Parks Board, began negotiating with HISD to purchase the property for the City of Houston. The Houston Parks Board negotiated a $9 million sales price (less than the property’s value) for park purposes.

On April 5, 2006, Houston City Council approved an interlocal agreement between the City of Houston and HISD for the purchase of approximately 20 acres of land (West 11th Street Park) from HISD. Mayor White agreed to provide $4 million in public funds to purchase the property, with the understanding that the private sector would raise the remainder. The HPB would need to raise $3,500,000 by the end of the interlocal option agreement period of January 9, 2007, for the purchase to be completed.

Despite aggressive fundraising by the Houston Parks Board and by the community, there was still a $3.5 million shortfall at the time that the “option to purchase” contract was set to expire in January 2007. In order to ensure that the West 11th Street Park was preserved as parkland

Because this property acquisition was believed to be critical, and for the first time in its history, the Houston Parks Board,  with City Council approval, took out a bridge loan to complete the purchase from HISD, using five acres of the property as collateral.

This contingency plan accomplished three important goals: the entire 20 acres would move from HISD ownership to the City of Houston “on time” at closing; the neighborhood was guaranteed a minimum of a 15.2-acre park; and additional time was gained to continue the fundraising to pay off the loan. In February of 2007, the land was purchased by the City of Houston, with five acres on the southwest corner used as collateral for a loan of $3.7 million.

In the fall of 2007, thanks to the efforts of Senator John Whitmire, a $3.75 million matching grant was allocated in the Texas Legislature to fund the remaining 5-acres of West 11th Street Park, along with the individual private donations raised.

On Thursday, February 21, 2008, donors, city and state leaders, and residents of Timbergrove Manor neighborhood were recognized during a park dedication ceremony for their contributions to help permanently secure all of the acreage of West 11th Street Park.

ACTIVITIES

Visitors to West 11th Street Park can enjoy hiking in the woods along one of several trails. Keep your eye out for wildlife, which makes use of the forest and meadow environments. Park visitors can enjoy passive use of the wildflower garden.

AMENITIES