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no mere walk in the park

Buffalo Bayou Park blooms with game-changing $10 million grant

Buffalo Bayou Park blooms with game-changing $10 million grant

buffalo bayou project aerial view
The imagined Buffalo Bayou park will be aided by the $10 million grant.  Rendering by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

The quest to make Buffalo Bayou more visitor-friendly has taken a huge leap, thanks to a massive donation from a cherished local nonprofit. Houston Endowment announced on November 9 that it has granted a whopping $10 million to Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP).

These new funds will go towards the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan. The plan calls for the transformation of the waterway’s East Sector over the next 20 years with new bayou parks and trails, dynamic recreational and cultural destinations, as well as bikeways and “green fingers” into surrounding neighborhoods, according to a press release.

While extending the western network of Buffalo Bayou parks, trails, and open space, the plan also connects the historic Fifth Ward and Greater East End neighborhoods to the bayou — and to each other. Organizers developed the plan after nearly two years of engagement with area residents based on four core principles of authenticity, inclusivity, connectivity, and resiliency, per a release.

With the $10 million grant, Buffalo Bayou Partnership can now deliver initial Buffalo Bayou East improvements and build a strong foundation for future projects and initiatives that offer economic, social and environmental benefits for both residents of the Fifth Ward and Greater East End neighborhoods as well as the broader Houston community.

Plans include improved waterfront trails and on-street bikeways, as well as hundreds of acres of new and improved parks and the creation of new boat landings and bridges.

Also on deck with the new plan and funds:

  • A “Downtown Gateway” will link northeastern downtown to the East Sector by utilizing green space and detention ponds.
  • A 20-acre expansion of the City’s Tony Marron Park will act as an open space anchor.
  • A restoration of an urban creek will connect the bayou to the historic Fifth Ward.
  • BBP-owned industrial sites including Turkey Bend and the Lockwood Water Treatment Works will be rehabilitated.
  • An eastern trailhead, linking the County’s Yolanda Black Navarro Buffalo Bend Nature Park to the City’s Hidalgo Park, will be created;
  • A new, mixed-income housing project at Lockwood Drive and the bayou is in the works.
  • Design of key destinations centered around the Fifth Ward, and Second Ward and Magnolia Park in the Greater East End.
  • Begin important infrastructure work to stabilize the bayou banks as well as repair existing trail links in the area.
  • Land acquisition efforts for future parks and trail connections.
  • Phase 1 site improvements at Japhet Creek, an historic bayou tributary, to include trails, interpretive signage, site furnishings, and landscaping.
  • Expand BBP’s organizational capacity, including hiring a full-time Community Engagement Manager.

Houston Endowment joins a long list of foundations, corporations, individuals, and government agencies that have enabled BBP to implement more than $200 million in improvements for the redevelopment and stewardship of the waterfront over the past three decades.

“This project will play a major role in the City of Houston’s Complete Communities initiative, which seeks to improve neighborhoods so that all of Houston’s residents and business owners can have access to quality services and amenities,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, in a statement.

“The grant from Houston Endowment is another exciting step forward in the creation of a more equitable city for all Houstonians. We are grateful to both Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston Endowment not only for their inclusive vision of a better Houston, but their commitment to making it a reality.”

In 2020, Houston Endowment will grant more than $80 million to the area in support of the Greater Houston area.