Mandell Park is a lush green oasis in the middle of the Museum District. But it wasn’t always that way. The Parks and Recreation Department began renovating the space in February.
Resident Meredith Burke began an organic community garden in Mandell Park in 1992. She says the renovations have made the park better than she ever imagined.
Residents explore the newly-designed Meredith Gardens in Mandell Park.
“I just have vivid memories of when we first started, and just to see the transformation of it is just very special,” Burke said. “It’s just an affirmation of great community and great friendships.”
The property was originally purchased by the City of Houston in the 1980s. The plan was to build a library, but it was moved to another location. The site soon became an abandoned lot full of litter and overgrown weeds. Resident Janet Neath says there were no amenities for gardeners.
“When it was a dump heap, sometimes Meredith and I would have to carry water from her house to the beds,” Neath said.
Residents volunteered to clean and mow part of the space. The City of Houston helped clear the rest in 2004, and began extensive renovations this year.
Jeff Harmon manages the park’s newly-designed compost station. He says Mandell Park will provide a place for Houstonians to learn about the benefits of community gardens.
“I think it will be an opportunity for all the people around here to really get involved and learn,” he said. “This is a teaching garden.”
Mandell Park also includes a prairie full of native plants and wildlife.