City of Houston

Houston city officials announce new billboard campaigns to keep parks cleaner, safer

Officials say over 66,000 pounds of trash and litter are picked up each year.

City officials announce a new campaign to make Houston area parks cleaner and safer.
Ashley Brown/Houston Public Media
City officials announced a new billboard campaign to make Houston area parks cleaner and safer.

City leaders are taking a different approach to combat crime and litter in city parks with a new initiative local leaders said they hope will get the message across. The City of Houston launched its new year-long "Keep Our Parks Clean and Safe" billboard campaign on Tuesday.

The City of Houston along with the Houston Police Department (HPD), the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD), the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), and Clear Channel Outdoor have joined together to encourage safer and cleaner parks.

"The goal of the campaign is specifically to engage the community to get them involved," said Kenneth Allen, the Director of HPARD. "Simply, if you see something, say something, that’s the message of this campaign to keep our park safe and clean. Remember, parks are for everyone, so it takes everyone to help us keep them safe and to maintain them."

More than 100 messages will be displayed on billboards donated by Clear Channel Outdoor in both English and Spanish to inform residents of what they can do to help keep city parks free of litter and crime.

Houston has 382 neighborhood parks aside from its signature parks like Memorial, Emancipation, and Hermann Park. Houston has over 39,500 acres of parkland and green space. Officials say over 66,000 pounds of trash and litter are picked up each year. The HPARD management team is responsible for picking up litter in city parks and they operate on a three-day cycle.

"That task (picking up litter) takes away time that could be spent on mowing grass, and helping beautify Houston’s 382 parks," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

To help the management team, Mayor Turner has approved 11 new park management aide positions to help decrease the litter pick-up time from three days to two days.

"All you have to do is throw your garbage in the many trash cans that are stationed at all of our city of Houston parks," said Turner. "Eliminating litter can have health benefits along with environmental and safety benefits as well. Clean parks can heal spirits and make any pug visit a pleasant experience."

The city says it wants residents to be able to feel safe and enjoy the city's greenspace by motivating them to be more proactive in city parks.

"Take it as a warning when you see these signs, people who want to come in and do bad in our parks, we will locate you and we will arrest you,' said HPD Chief Troy Finner.

Finner said another initiative regarding cameras will soon be rolling out in the next few weeks. He said there are a number of cameras in city parks and he wants them all over the city.

Installations will begin next week. Billboards are expected to be completed by the end of the year.