Eastern Glades Project
The first major project of the Master Plan, Eastern Glades reclaims 100 acres of largely inaccessible parkland. This project significantly expands picnicking meeting a growing demand by families wishing to enjoy the Park; adds new parking and restrooms; extends the Seymour Lieberman Trail to a full 3-mile loop; establishes a 5-acre lake and wetlands; provides trails, boardwalks and opportunities to experience and learn about natural habitat systems; and honors the Park’s military history. Phase I of Eastern Glades opened in October 2018, with the complete Eastern Glades slated for completion in 2020.
Inspired by the original 1930s Master Plan for Memorial Park by landscape architects Hare & Hare, the Eastern Glades impacts almost all of the Park’s 4 million annual users – from runners on the Seymour Lieberman Trail to picnicking families to students of ecology and those interested in Houston’s and the nation’s military history.
What does this project encompass?
Eastern Glades will establish new passive recreation and education areas while also restoring Memorial Park’s natural ecology. This includes both ecological restoration and infrastructural work critical to opening this inaccessible acreage. The ecological restoration portion of the project will require several phases carried out over multiple years involving removal of invasive species and reforestation with native plantings to establish a healthy forest structure. The infrastructural component, which includes relocating a portion of East Memorial Loop Road, extending the Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail, and providing drainage infrastructure and new restrooms, was completed and opened in October 2018.
The completed Eastern Glades will feature:
- Gathering space for picnicking as well as restrooms, two features that were the most common requests received during the public input phase of the Master Plan
- A new lake for the reclamation and reuse of storm water as well as habitat creation for native species
- Constructed wetlands with educational signage highlighting their function and contribution to the dynamic ecology of the Park
- A new pedestrian entrance at the location of an original entrance into Camp Logan, the WWI military training camp for which Memorial Park is named, creating a physical connection between Park users and the Park’s history
- Extension of the Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail to a full 3 miles
- Additional pedestrian lighting, parking and multiuse trails for safer biking and walking.
How will Park users and neighbors be impacted during construction?
During the project, Park users as well as those living in adjacent neighborhoods will see signage indicating work in progress. Some of the work areas within the Park will be closed off in order to ensure the safety of the public. The newly reforested area on the east side of the project will create a sense of seclusion for the Park and maintain privacy for its neighbors. The Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail and East Memorial Loop Road will remain open throughout construction. Lane closures on both East Memorial Loop Road and Memorial Drive will be necessary during the course of construction, but traffic will be maintained through the Park at all times.
Like most of Memorial Park, an extensive ecological restoration and conversion process will be required to bring Eastern Glades to fruition. These processes often take many years to establish before moving into a maintenance regime. Components of the Conservancy’s approach include:
- Removal of invasive species undergrowth, enabling existing seed bank of native trees the opportunity to grow
- Establishment of healthy forest structure through addition of woody species and herbaceous plants
- Stewardship through ongoing maintenance
The resulting restored natural areas will be more resilient to climatic conditions and more hospitable to diverse fauna. During the conversion process, these areas will require more intensive maintenance; however, this will decrease over time as they become established.
When will the Eastern Glades be open for enjoyment?
Phase 1 of Eastern Glades, which includes the relocation of a portion of East Memorial Loop Road, a new restroom, parking, dark-sky lighting, and native landscaped swales to facilitate storm water management and water purification, opened in October 2019. The complete Eastern Glades will open in 2020.
What will happen to the “old” East Memorial Loop Road?
After construction is complete on Eastern Glades Phase 2, it will be demolished and returned to parkland.
When should the pedestrian access to the Eastern Glades as an extension of Blossom be finished and usable?
The Blossom pedestrian access will be completed with Eastern Glades Phase 2, which will open in 2020.