Houston Closer To Getting A Botanic Garden And Renovated Golf Course

Nonprofits’ fundraising milestones were part of contracts with the city.


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Only a handful of golfers were out playing on the historic Gus Wortham Golf Course on a chilly Friday afternoon.

John Seahorn comes here about twice a week. He loves the course but thinks it can definitely be improved.

"Fairways, you know, everything," he said. "Tee boxes, everything, needs renovating. And the greens as well."

And it looks like that's going to happen.

The city recently announced that the Houston Golf Association reached their first fundraising goal of $5 million.

"That then triggered the effective date of the contract," Steve Timms, president of the nonprofit, told Houston Matters. "So we are now working towards taking over the operating responsibility of the property, which we will have done in the next 30 days."

Currently, the city is still operating the course.

The goal is to raise enough money to be able to start the renovation in the fall.

The group Houston Botanic Garden also reached its first fundraising goal of $5 million for the Glenbrook Golf Course, just six miles southeast from Gus Wortham.

Just as with the golf association, it's part of a contract with the city. If they can raise another $15 million by the last day of 2017, they'll be able to lease the property and work on turning the golf course into a botanic garden.

"The garden is, while it will be a beautiful place for people to visit and stroll, its real essence is that it's an educational institution to teach people about science and botany in particular," Jeff Ross, president of Houston Botanic Garden, said.

The group has developed a master plan and the goal is to open the facility in 2020.

Both places are in Houston's council District I. Its council member, Robert Gallegos, said he's thrilled about the projects because the city doesn't have the money to maintain both courses.

"So this is just a perfect opportunity to have two nonprofits that are committed to raising their funds to renovate two city green spaces," he said.

There are critics, however. At past public sessions, some residents have expressed concern about increased traffic and losing a shortcut through the neighborhood when the botanic garden replaces the golf course.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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