News

City Preserves Inner Loop Park

After years of uncertainty, the 11th Street Park is preserved as a Houston Greenspace. The park was in danger of being sold for development. Houston Public Radio’s Laurie Johnson reports.

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Despite intermittent rain, several dozen people gathered to celebrate the official opening of the 11th Street Park.

It’s one of the few remaining large natural forested areas inside the 610 Loop.

Houston Mayor Bill White says the site fits in with the city’s overall parks plan.

“Too often we haven’t thought ahead about preserving the greenspace that makes our city so special as we’ve grown. This is part of a whole change in the culture and direction of our city as a result of the fact that we’re thinking ahead and preserving more and more of our greenspace and special places and things that make neighborhoods real neighborhoods.”

The wooded acreage was originally owned by the Houston Independent School District. The district planned to build a school on the property, but later decided to sell the land.

Community members feared it would be turned into residential development. So they asked the city of Houston and the Houston Parks Board to help purchase the property.

Board Executive Director Roksan Okan Vick says just a year ago, five acres of the park were in jeopardy.

“We didn’t quite have all the money together so what we ended up doing is the Houston Parks Board took out a one-year bridge loan and used five acres of this park as collateral hoping that we can raise the funds in that one year. And that’s when Senator Whitmire made this appropriation at the state level. Which gave us the opportunity to retire the loan and keep the five acres and save all 20 acres.”

State Senator John Whitmire helped secure the last $3.7 million needed to pay for the park.
The City of Houston had already pledged $4 million. And community members and philanthropists were able to raise another $1.3 million. Councilmember Toni Lawrence says saving the park was one of the reasons she ran for office.

“At one of the auctions, I bought a picture of this park. I have it hanging in the hallway. And it symbolizes to my staff if you work hard and, excuse me for kind of being emotional at this, this is a very, very important symbol. This is a symbol of working hard, but it’s also a symbol of the community.”

The 11th Street Park is home to some of the tallest trees inside the loop and is a sanctuary for 101 species of birds.

Laurie Johnson. Houston Public Radio News.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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