Beautiful Oaks Doomed on Memorial Park Golf Course?
Are Big Trees Part of Massive Tree Felling Project in Public Park?
March 21, 2019
Updated March 24, 2019
Strolling along Memorial Drive past the fence obscuring the secret remodel of the public golf course in Houston’s Memorial Park, we noticed these lovely old oaks tagged with ties and surrounded by plastic fencing. We were alarmed. Hundreds of other trees, including mature oaks and pines, are marked for felling with plastic ribbons all over the 1500-acre park, which has already lost innumerable trees as the $200-300 million Master Plan is bulldozed into place. But these trees were on the golf course. Could it be they were marked for preservation? Other trees already have been felled as part of the controversial $13.5 million “upgrade” of the popular course into a PGA Tour tournament-level course.
Waiting for An Answer
We’ve contacted the Memorial Park Conservancy, the private nonprofit that raises funds and manages the park for the benefit of the people of Houston. We’ll have an answer soon, we hope.
Update: Representatives of the Conservancy have responded that the renovation of the golf course for PGA Tour tournaments is the responsibility of the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and that we should ask HPARD about the trees. So we sent an email about the trees to HPARD Director Steve Wright late on Thursday, March 21, and we are waiting for a reply.
Developers Plan to Improve Memorial Park by Cutting a Lot of Trees, “Re-establishing” Streams
Business Group Requests Federal Permit for Dredging, Filling Wetlands, Hardening Tributaries to Buffalo Bayou
Public Comment Due by April 4, 2019
March 13, 2019
A Galleria-area development group has asked for a federal permit to fill wetlands and dredge and armor streams in Memorial Park in order to build two “earthen land bridges” over Memorial Drive. The project, part of a controversial $200-300 million landscaping plan for the public park, requires the felling of hundreds of trees, including mature pines, digging up and lining the streams with concrete rubble and wire baskets of “rocks,” covering Memorial Drive with concrete tunnels, and relocating playing fields and picnic areas.
The Harris County Improvement District 1, otherwise known as the Uptown Houston District or Uptown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) 16, is a local government corporation composed of property owners and developers and funded by local property taxes. In 2013 it was expanded to include Memorial Park, a 1,500-acre semi-forested park on Buffalo Bayou in the center of Houston.
The park, formerly the site of a World War I-era military training camp, is also a State Antiquities Landmark. (See also here.) Parts of a small constructed channel connecting the two originally natural though partially altered tributaries appear to be walled with stone possibly dating from that period. The two tributaries flow through deep wooded ravines lined with lovely dirt paths and empty in Buffalo Bayou.
“Rocks,” other than ancient sandstone, are not natural to Houston’s streams.
Public Comment Period Until April 4
The Improvement District last week filed an application for a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers, which enforces the federal Clean Water Act. The Corps is seeking public comment on the permit application, including on whether a public hearing should be held. The public has until April 4 to comment. See below for how to comment.