HOUSTON – As the weather starts to cool down, more and more people will make it out to Memorial Park to enjoy the trails. The timing is perfect, because Memorial Park Conservancy has extended a 3-mile running trail and added new public amenities.
“We really believe in the value of public space and bringing people together,” said Shelley Arnold, president and CEO of Memorial Park Conservancy. “We really believe in the value of this being a public health asset and other parks being public health assets for Houstonians.”
Phase one of the Memorial Park master plan is complete. The Eastern Glades Phase one includes new public restrooms, more parking, water fountains, lighting and a longer trail.
“(Not just) for me, but for Houstonians that use this park, they’re telling us it’s really, really fun, exciting. This trail was voted the nation’s most popular running loop,” said Arnold. “Thousands of people that come to use this trail every day are telling us they appreciate the longer trail, the restroom, it’s beautiful, they appreciate just the new experience.”
It’s taken two years to complete the project, and in 2020, crews are expected to finish the full 100-acre Eastern Glades project. The goal is to provide more shade and quiet spaces for park users.
In April of 2015, the Memorial Park master plan was approved by Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council.
Since then, the Memorial Park Conservancy, in partnership with the Uptown Development Authority and Houston Parks and Recreation Department, has worked to help bring the new addition alive.
Here’s what you need to know:
• The completion of Eastern Glades Phase one has added 150 new parking spots
• New restroom station with water fountain
• New plants and lights
• And a new ecology
EXTRA PARKING SPOTS
Crews had to realign the East Memorial Loop Drive so they could extend the Seymour Lieberman Exec-Trail. In the past, the trail was 2.93 miles, and many avid runners asked for the extra length to make the trail a solid 3 miles.
The expansion included 150 new paid parking spots, which will help conserve the park.
“The dollar for three hours that we’re charging for parking will go to help care for the park itself,” said Arnold.
It’s no secret Houston is prone to flooding. Arnold said they took that into consideration and included natural plants and new drainage systems to help absorb the water.
“There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work, so the things you’re not going to see, stormwater sewers and stormwater drains to help with stormwater management as a detention pond, electric lines, water lines, sewer lines,” said Arnold.
“The things that are coming are a big picnic area that will be fitting for Memorial Park, so it will be trees, grasses, you can throw down a picnic blanket or a Frisbee,” said Arnold. “We’ll also have picnic tables, we’ll have a picnic pavilion.”
“We’ll also have a 5-acre lake and wetlands area, which will be a real, natural setting, which is also a stormwater management feature. We’ll have boardwalks throughout and trails throughout the forest and throughout the space, and we’ll have an additional restroom. So, there’s really more to come that will be delivered by 2020.”