On April 1, 2015, Houston City Council unanimously passed the Memorial Park Master Plan and improvements are now underway.
Memorial Park Conservancy (MPC), the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) and the Uptown Houston Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #16 (TIRZ) jointly led the planning process. Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects served as the lead design firm and is currently working on project development and execution.
The Memorial Park Master Plan ensured a steady, methodical plan of action, and was developed and executed collaboratively by MPC, HPARD and TIRZ with input from stakeholder groups and the general public. Seeking to create a healthy balance between conservation and recreation, The Plan will enhance, preserve and protect Memorial Park for years to come.
The Need for a Master Plan
The need for a new Master Plan stemmed from multiple sources, including natural disruptions (i.e. the 2011 drought and Hurricane Ike); a growing population and increasing demand for Park space; a desire for connectivity; opportunities to improve infrastructure; public safety; and conservation practices.
“This is a rare opportunity to set Memorial Park on a more resilient course—to ensure its longevity for the thousands of people using it every day; to create a rich and varied ecosystem further enhancing the experience of the park for its many users; and to envision and articulate the critical balance between intense, active use and preservation.”
- Thomas L. Woltz, Owner
Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects
The Planning Process
An overriding objective in undertaking a new Master Plan was to envision a Memorial Park for all Houstonians—not just for today, but for generations to come. A survey of Park users showed that people come to Memorial Park from over 134 distinct zip codes across the greater Houston area. The planning team engaged 3,300 participants through eight large public meetings held across Houston, 20 focused workshops and a three month online survey.
In addition to public input, the team consulted an EcoTech Panel created to provide expert ecological guidance for the Master Planning effort and subsequent project implementation. The Panel includes more than 25 scientists and experts in fields such as urban biology, soil science, native plants, water quality, forestry and ornithology. Members hail from Rice University, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M, the Sierra Club, the Houston Zoo, Bayou Preservation Association, Coastal Prairie Partnership, University of Houston, Harris County Flood Control, Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Cockrell Butterfly Center and other organizations.
In addition to input from the general public and ecological, biological and conservation sciences, the team also engaged:
- Civic associations, neighbors and other organizations located near Memorial Park.
- City, county and state leaders.
- Experts from a wide range of disciplines including education; cultural history; demographics; parking and traffic; trail design and construction; active recreation and sports; public transportation; and the arts.
Goals and Guiding Principles
Based on research and input, the team identified major goals that included:
- Establish a healthy, resilient ecosystem and restore habitat.
- Upgrade Park amenities, access, connectivity and safety.
- Honor and reveal the cultural and ecological history of the Park.
- Address key infrastructure challenges, traffic/parking issues and conservation opportunities.
- Rely on comprehensive public input and research.
The team developed 5 guiding principles:
- RESTORE the ecology of the park and our connection to it.
- CONSOLIDATE compatible uses together in appropriate areas.
- TEND the land and our cultural history, maintaining balance through responsible management.
- RECONNECT the land, waterways, trails, people and memories.
- ENHANCE the overall park experience and its amenities.
Memorial Park Tomorrow
View videos and presentations from the Master Plan public meeting series at www.memorialparktomorrow.org.