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Industry vs. Parks Battle Comes to Agreement

Ten years of antagonism ends with a new park and a new spirit of co-operation. Rod Rice reports on the change of attitudes along the bay.


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When the Port of Houston announced plans to expand, the community of Seabrook announced plans to fight it, and so it went with verbal and legal skirmishes back and forth for a decade. And then last November came the word the adversaries had agreed to live together in peace. The deal was signed and made official last Tuesday, on Earth Day, at a ceremony naming a new park on former port land. Port Chairman James Edmonds called the day “significant” and gave credit for the change in direction to Seabrook mayor Robin Riley.

“Well the mayor actually came to us and said that he was not able to run again and he wanted to sit down and have some dialogue, and so we sat down with him and said we’d like to do that same thing too, but it needs to be meaningful and we’ve got to get to a point where we put all of our problems behind us and he said that’s what he would like to do. So we sat down, he and I sat down for a couple of long meetings and our staffs came together and here we go.”

Mayor Riley says it took a lot of people, and the right timing, to work out what he called a state of the art agreement between two governments.

“It’s very difficult to come up with one that each side can feel 100% confident that it will be maintained through the years. This agreement has that built into it. This gives the citizens of Seabrook the protection from industrial encroachment, the quality of life that they so richly deserve, but yet also insures that the Port of Houston can still have their world class container port that they’ve been working on all these years.”

As part of the agreement the port give 41-acres of land to Seabrook for a park. Seabrook schools were invited to name the park and the winning name came from Maryanne Kolar’s kindergarten class. After Mrs. Kolar told the class about the park, Kegan Reynolds said.

“I knew there was wildlife”

And Mrs. Kolar said,

“How will they know where it is so they said ‘it’s in Seabrook’ so we put Seabrook and Wildlife together.”

And that’s how you win a naming contest.

Mayor Riley, Chairman Edmonds and others planted a tree as a symbol of their new spirit of co-operation, so with a bunch of little kids, a new tree, a new park and a new attitude. It was party time…