Location of Proposed Park & Ride May Irk Nearby Residents

If you’re one of the many residents in the Pearland area who has been hankering for a Park & Ride, you’ll be happy to know that you’re probably going to get one soon. But for residents living in the SouthFork subdivision in Manvel, the Park and Ride’s proposed location may be a little too close for comfort. From the KUHF NewsLab series, “Exploring Houston,” Wendy Siegle tells the story.

Proposed-Park-&-Ride-Location-(Corner-of-Southfork-Parkway-&-County-Rd.-59)Metro is currently in negotiations to purchase a 12-acre parcel of land, which will then be converted into the Pearland area’s first Park & Ride facility. The vacant green space sits on the corner of Southfork Parkway and County Road 59—just off 288 South, on the edge of Manvel. Unlike the Pearland area’s previous Park & Ride plans—that were later scrapped—this one is backed by federal grant dollars, which means it’s much more likely to pan out. Kimberley Slaughter is the associate vice president of planning with Metro. She says Metro has considered several locations, so why this one?

“It was available. Cost was good. You’ve got a motivated seller. But most of all, it has direct access off of the freeway.”

Angela Kendrick lives in the SouthFork subdivision, a suburban residential development. She works in the oil and gas industry and commutes on 288 daily. She says she would welcome a Park & Ride with open arms; she’s just not happy about Metro’s decision to put one right at the entrance of her neighborhood.

“My neighbor told me that Pearland was getting a Park & Ride. And I was like, ‘Hey that’ll be kind of nice. I could probably use a Park & Ride.’ And he goes, “It’s going to be in our neighborhood.” And I said, ‘What?'”

According to Slaughter, out of all the Park & Ride lots in the greater Houston area, this one would be the closest to a residential neighborhood, by far. And although Kendrick acknowledges the convenience of having things nearby, she says in this case, it’s a little too close.

“It’s nice to have these things close to your home, obviously. It’s nice to have a grocery store close to home; it’s nice to have a pharmacy close to home, or a gas station close to home. It doesn’t necessarily mean you want the gas station inside your neighborhood.”
Kendrick and some of her SouthFork neighbors are concerned that traffic on the main street of their neighborhood will worsen, that crime will increase, and that the Park & Ride facility will have a negative effect on the aesthetic of the entire subdivision. That, she says, could bring property values down.

“I’m not feeling like there’s enough benefit for all of Pearland for the cost of what’s gonna come out of my neighborhood.”

But Slaughter says that concerns like Kendrick’s are just common misperceptions. Crime rates in the lots—which are monitored by security cameras—don’t go up, she says; they remain comparable to the levels in the community. And increased traffic, she points out, comes more with retail strips, not Park & Rides. As for the aesthetics:

“We’re proposing a higher level of landscaping that would be a significant improvement in the visual aesthetics over what’s there today because right now they have a direct view onto the freeway.”

Still, Kendrick wishes Metro would find another location for the Park & Ride, preferably one that wouldn’t encroach on any one neighborhood. Slaughter encourages residents and other stakeholders to attend a public meeting to give their input. Two are scheduled in July. The information can be found below.  

From the KUHF NewsLab, I’m Wendy Siegle.

Two Public Meetings
 July 20, 2010 – Church of the Harvest, Manvel TX, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM 

 July 22, 2010 – Hilton Garden Inn, Pearland TX, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

*Please check with Metro for up-to-date information.