‘We want Bagby Park reopened’: Residents decry construction delays at beloved neighborhood park

HOUSTON – People who live, work and play in Midtown Houston are wondering when construction on a beloved neighborhood park will finally be complete.

The 30,000 square foot Bagby Park along Gray Street was partially closed for renovations in June 2019.

According to a June 2019 blog post on the Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA) website, the upgrades would be complete in Fall 2019.

The MRA touted the addition of a canopy and lighting to the existing stage, revitalized greenspace, more shade and a “refreshed” food kiosk with a new vendor.

The MRA project page lists Bagby Park as “Completed 100%.”

But one year after it was supposed to be done, a chain-link fence surrounds the greenspace and the park’s most visible feature, the 10-foot letters that spell out Midtown, which is now covered in plywood.

In a recent post to the neighborhood social media app, Nextdoor, one woman opened a thread on the topic with, “we want Bagby Park REOPENED.” Other neighbors chiming in on the lack of information about why the renovations were delayed.

“It’s been disappointing. It’s a plot of grass and I don’t understand why they can’t take the fence down and let us have some activities,” resident Robert Wallenhorst told KPRC 2.

Residents and parkgoers, like Wallenhorst, expressed frustration about the delays in the nearly $755,000 project.

“Be transparent and clear about what’s going to happen and show some urgency in getting it back reopened for us,” Wallenhorst said.

The MRA said construction crews were last at the site the week before Thanksgiving and would return this week, " to complete substantial punch list items.”

In a statement to KPRC 2, Marlon Marshall, director of engineering and construction at Midtown Houston, said the park is now expected to reopen in Spring 2021.

“The project schedule has been extended to accommodate for the time required to design and construct the additional upgrades which have been added to the project scope since the start of construction,” Marshall said. “The park remains partially closed because it is an active construction site. For public safety purposes, public access is restricted from the areas of the park which are undergoing active construction. Since our initial closing for renovations, the park improvements have been modified to include upgraded restrooms and storage facilities to better accommodate future park programming and the new kiosk tenant. The new food tenant LaCalle Tacos will have an enhanced kiosk with a sustainable container bar and an expanded patio area with additional outdoor seating.”

Marshall said concerned citizens can get updates on the Bagby Park project schedule and budget changes during MRA’s monthly board meetings. The MRA board’s next meeting is on Dec. 17.

About the Author:

Emmy-winning journalist, native Houstonian, reader, dancer, yogi.