Why Is the City Shutting Off Access to Buffalo Bayou in Memorial Park?
November 2, 2014
We were exploring in the woods yesterday (Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014) behind the “prison-grade” apparently permanent fence now surrounding the mysteriously closed $1.3 million not-a-canoe launch, “erosion control” project and drainage outfall in Memorial Park just south of Woodway. This is the park area just west of Loop 610 that used to be called the Archery Range because it was in fact used as an archery range from the 1950s until about 1988.
The bayou here was the site of an old sandstone ford near the current Woodway Bridge that was known in the nineteenth century as Dutchman’s Crossing, and the woods contain the remnants of a large brick kiln (and bricks), charcoal manufacturing, and antebellum market garden, orchard, and plant nursery dating from about 1838 to the 1930s, according to landscape architect and historian Janet Wagner.
We were looking for the much newer paved pathway that until recently led to the bayou from Woodway and that only a few years ago was used by the sporting public to haul and unload their canoes and kayaks on the banks of the bayou underneath the 610 bridge.
For some reason the entire wooded area has been fenced off and the public pathway we were looking for has been eradicated. Only a few pieces of concrete remain, lost under the overgrowth.
But hidden in the middle of the woods we did find an enchanting secret pool of clear water, apparently a tributary fed by natural springs and partly covered over with concrete.
Why has this part of Memorial Park been closed to the public? Why was the paved path to the bayou eliminated?
What are they planning to do with this fenced-off part of our Memorial Park, land that belongs to all of us? Could it have something to do with the shops, restaurants, high-rise offices and residences in Uptown Park, which now includes Memorial Park in its TIRZ 16?
And why is the newly landscaped official Texas Parks and Wildlife Paddling Trail canoe launch at Woodway still closed to the public after the Uptown TIRZ 16’s $1.3 million “erosion control” project?
Well, because it’s no longer a canoe launch, says Rick Dewees, assistant director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and administrator in charge of Memorial Park. “We were hoping that we could use this facility for something like that in the future.”
We’ll have more answers soon.
But it sure looks like the city doesn’t want the public to have access to the bayou to see the beautiful, historic natural area that the Harris County Flood Control District plans to destroy with $4 million in taxpayer funds.