Ten Year Plan

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Ten Year Plan

The Ten-Year Plan:
Accelerating the Master Plan, 2018-2028

In 2018, the largest private donation in the history of the Houston Park system catalyzed the Ten-Year Plan for Memorial Park, allowing Memorial Park Conservancy to design and construct significant components of the 2015 Memorial Park Master Plan. The Ten-Year plan was made possible by a $70 million catalyst gift from Kinder Foundation, and is managed by a public-private partnership led by Memorial Park Conservancy which includes Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Memorial Park Conservancy, Kinder Foundation, and Uptown Development Authority. Kinder Foundation’s catalyst gift secured over $50 million in public sector funding for infrastructure improvements and maintenance of Memorial Park. Memorial Park Conservancy continues to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the Ten-Year Plan projects by 2024, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Memorial Park.

Project Partners:
Ten-Year Plan Projects
Eastern Glades

Eastern Glades – Opening 2020

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.

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Land Bridge and Prairie

Land Bridge and Prairie – Opening 2022

Located in the heart of Memorial Park, the Land Bridge and Prairie Restoration Project is a key component of the Master Plan which the Ten-Year Plan will deliver by 2022. The Land Bridge includes two connections over Memorial Drive that reunite the north and south sides of the Park. This “new” parkland will symbolize the triumph of “green” over “gray”, healing the divide cut by Memorial Drive through the middle of this treasured urban wilderness park half a century ago.  The Prairie Restoration, which adjoins the Land Bridge, re-introduces endangered native Gulf Coast prairie and additional wetlands to areas north and south of Memorial Drive. A new network of trails will provide safe crossing for people and wildlife. Both prairie and wetlands serve important habitat and stormwater management functions and are a key part of the Park’s ecological restoration to ensure resiliency. Together, the Land Bridge and Prairie will distinguish Memorial Park and Houston, serving as an icon to all of a greener and more resilient future.

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Running Complex

Running Complex

The Cullen Running Trails Center is a major programmatic hub on the western side of the Park. Nestled into the southwestern arm of the future Land Bridge, trails will connect the running center to the rest of the Park. With the existing Cullen Running Trails Center building as its anchor, the Running Complex will feature a new concession and restroom building, timing track, gathering spaces, and area for programming. The Complex will be an important central gathering area for all types of Park users, and will provide access to running throughout Memorial Park, whether on the Seymour Lieberman Trail to the north or the natural surface trail network on the Park’s south side.

Southern Arc Trail

Southern Arc Trail

This multi-modal trail will traverse the Bayou Wilds, connecting users of all abilities with the Park’s distinctive urban wilderness. The Southern Arc Trail connects to the extensive network of natural surface hike-and-bike trails, providing points of access while offering an immersive nature experience all its own, with views of Buffalo Bayou and the riparian forest and savanna that characterize this area of the Park.

Sports Complex

Sports Complex – Opening 2020

Balancing the urban wilderness and active recreation which makes Memorial Park unique in the city, the first phase of the Master Plan’s Sports Complex will open in 2020. This phase is an important process in the Master Plan’s goals of consolidating areas of recreation and reuniting previously fragmented ecological areas. User experience will be enhanced by centralizing the sports fields that are scattered across the Park. The complex will be a dynamic and vibrant area and will include a multi-use sports field for games like rugby, lacrosse, soccer and other field sports; two ballfields; and four sand volleyball courts as well as associated parking. Project design incorporates a forested buffer between I-10 and the new complex.

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Connectivity: Trails and Bridges

Connectivity: Trails and Bridges

A series of trails and bridges will increase connectivity within and beyond Memorial Park, converting the Park from an isolated urban greenspace into a key connector along Houston’s greenways and hike-and-bike paths, encouraging access and welcoming multi-modal forms of transportation to and through the Park.

Projects include:

  • North/South Hike-and-Bike Trail
  • East/West Hike-and-Bike Trail
  • I-10 Pedestrian Bridge
  • Running Trail Ravine Bridge
  • Buffalo Bayou Bridge
  • Memorial Drive East Pedestrian Bridge
  • Memorial Park-Uptown Connector Trail
Stormwater Management

Stormwater Management

Stormwater management improvements will take place throughout the Park and will include ravine and bank stabilization, and other erosion analysis and mitigation efforts. Subsequent ecological resiliency will help retain stormwater onsite and reduce erosion and help improve the water quality in Buffalo Bayou.

Memorial Groves

Memorial Groves

Memorial Park was the site of Camp Logan, one of the country’s 32 World War I training camps. It was here that tens of thousands of National Guard soldiers were sent to live and train before serving in campaigns across France. The camp was constructed in 1917 and by 1919 most of the structures were dissembled and few traces of this significant history remain. The vision for Memorial Groves is that it will become a forest commemorating the WWI soldiers, with trees in regimental rows that follow the same orientation as Camp Logan’s former tents, streets, and infrastructure. The stories associated with the Camp Logan training camp will be captured and told as a part of this project — some of them heroic, some of them tragic, all of them important.  These stories reflect Houston’s and our nation’s history.  The Groves will stand in stark contrast to the naturalized existing trees, providing moments of ordered stillness and reflection. Clearings of varying sizes will draw light into the groves, creating opportunities for education and gathering.

Other Trails

Other Trails and Connectivity Projects

A series of trails and bridges will increase connectivity within and beyond Memorial Park, converting the Park from an isolated urban greenspace into a key connector along Houston’s greenways and hike-and-bike paths, encouraging access and welcoming multi-modal forms of transportation to and through the Park by 2028.

  • Southern Arc Trail: a 1.5 mile, multi-use trail through the south side of Memorial Park’s 600-acre urban wilderness. This is one of the largest centrally-located urban forests in the U.S., and the most distinctive feature of Memorial Park, and is not accessible to most users.
  • North/South Hike and Bike Trail: connecting north to NW Transit Center and Heights Hike-Bike; connecting south to Richmond Avenue
  • East/West Hike and Bike Trail: connecting east to the Park’s border with Crestwood Dr.
  • I-10 Pedestrian Bridge
  • Running Trail Ravine Bridge
  • Buffalo Bayou Bridge
  • Memorial Drive East Pedestrian Bridge
  • Memorial Park-Uptown Connector Trail: connecting under I-610 on the Park’s western border to Post Oak Blvd and the Uptown Houston District

Grounded in Ecological Restoration

The ecological restoration of Memorial Park underpins the projects in the Master Plan. By promoting the Park’s healthy ecologies and habitats, Memorial Park can sustainably balance conservation with recreational opportunity. Conversion to native habitats will reconnect Memorial Park to its legacy heritage, and restoring the Park’s natural environment serves as a nationwide model for urban forest and park renewal.

Ten-Year Plan FAQs

  • What is the purpose of this amendment to the existing Master Plan Agreement?

    The agreement was amended to put in place the framework for a 10-year capital plan to implement a substantial portion of the Master Plan approved by City Council in 2015. A key component of the capital investments is to come from the largest single private donation in Houston parks’ history of $70M from the Kinder Foundation. (Learn more about the Kinder Foundation gift.) Additionally, the Amendment outlines a network of funding streams to support the long-term care of capital improvements and the Park.

  • Will any maintenance be funded by the agreement?

    The agreement provides for some maintenance funding through parking fees, golf proceeds, and some funding from the Uptown Development Authority. The Conservancy is responsible for raising for the remaining funds needed to maintain the 1500-acre park.

  • Why invest in Memorial Park?

    • Memorial Park is unique on a local and national scale.
    • Over four million people visit Memorial Park each year, and this plan makes the Park even more accessible through advancing connectivity. Though an urban park, it operates in many ways as a regional park, serving some 170 zip codes within Harris and surrounding counties.
    • It is one of the largest urban wilderness parks in an inner city in the US, and its ecological impact reaches beyond state boundaries.
    • The Park is also one of the only remaining WWI training camps that has not been developed. Houston’s important role in our nation’s military history is grounded in our care of Memorial Park and will be highlighted through the development of Memorial Groves, a signature project of the Master Plan.
  • Does this reduce the City’s spending in other City parks?

    No. In fact, the City’s former annual contribution to Memorial Park maintenance was reallocated to other needs in the Parks system.