"Most of Texas doesn't live in Austin. We wanted to come and start visiting the big cities, and so we felt it was a good time to come to Houston."
San Antonio businessman Peter Holt was named chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission by Governor Rick Perry in 2003. He says gasoline prices have lead many Texas families to visit parks close to home.
"The last legislature was able to give us some dollars to start improving the parks because they'd fallen behind to be fair, and that was partly our fault and partly just the nature of the budgets. So, we've been starting to improve them and as that's been happening — of course gasoline prices have jumped dramatically — Î¾Î¾and yes we're seeing attendance this summer up dramatically over last year over in all our parks. So my guess is that the price of gas is weighing on that."
The agenda of the two day gathering includes funding for numerous outdoor park and recreation grants. Holt says some are headed this way.
"The dollars come from all different places. There's federal dollars that then the city or county or local municipality has to match. There are direct dollars that can be done that all add up to over 5-million dollars. I think it's going to add up to 9 and a half million dollars. So, it'll be great and it's all for the public."
Richard Hill lives in northern Harris County. He says he wanted to see how the Commission operates.
"There's a significant amount of grant money available that's not being used, so we're missing an opportunity. That peaked my interest and I wanted to understand more about grants that are available for the parks and development around here, particularly in northern Harris County, Montgomery County, that area."
Chairman Holt says he hopes the Commission will conduct more public hearings across Texas.
"I think it's important to reach out to our constituents and let them know that we love them, we understand what's going on in their lives, and we want to hear from them."
Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.
NOTE: The meeting continues Thursday, August 21rst, 9 A.M.Î¾at theÎ¾Houston Zoo.