The park at Woodrow Wilson Montessori School has been under renovation for months, but an opening ceremony on Friday made Wilson Wonderground once again accessible to the students and the public as Houston's newest SPARK Park.
A warm autumn afternoon set the perfect backdrop for the ceremony, which drew political dignitaries like former governor Mark White, a Wilson alum, and city council member Ellen Cohen together with parents, community members, teachers and students to sing the park's praises.
Students from kindergarten through 8th grade come from all over the city to attend the Title 1 magnet school. Project coordinator Maureen McNamara led the families and community members to raise more than $300,000 in grants and donations for improvements to the park (which initially received SPARK treatment more than a decade ago).
"Everyone saw the value in this park," Kathleen Ownby, executive director of SPARK and daughter of the late Eleanor Tinsley, told CultureMap.
"Everyone saw the value in this park," Kathleen Ownby, executive director of SPARK and daughter of the late Eleanor Tinsley, told CultureMap. "It's been a hugely successful project."
Park improvements include a new athletics lawn with a track, a lowland habitat garden, a sun garden, two natural play gardens and climbing structures. The playground has received enhancements, and organic materials like wood, rock, sand and native plants have been incorporated into the natural play spaces.
Those designs were furnished by Scott McCready, a Wilson Montessori parent and a landscape architect with SWA Group, and local artists Elena Cusi Wortham (a Wilson grandparent) and Bill Davenport (a Wilson parent) made contributions.
The park will be open to the public Monday through Friday from after school until dusk and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. until dusk.
SPARK started in 1983 to increase park space in the City of Houston by forging partnerships with public neighborhood schools. Now in its 29th year, the organization is in a dozen school districts and 200 schools.
The Wilson Wonderground opening ceremony kicks off SPARK Week 2012, with the dedication of seven new parks scheduled through Nov. 15.