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Houston Botanical Garden At The Glenbrook Golf Course


cloud713

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The neighborhood groups should be so lucky. It could have become an industrial park, a box store parking island, or a mixed use development.

Whoever is scaring these people are probably ignorant to the facts.

I'd love to have a botanical garden near my neighborhood. 

Isn't that in proximity to Hobby airport. It can't get much worse than that.

They should thank their lucky stars.

Look on the bright side you won't have to dodge errant golf balls and listen to drunks digging around your yard for lost golfballs

and broken windows.  FOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!

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By golly, who knew trees, flowers and gardens would be so threatening to Houstonians. Honestly, the East End should be kicking itself silly for protesting and passing up on such a positive project. Instead these lovely gardens will now be sandwiched in between a dank freeway and a smelly petrochemical plant. As for "saving" golf courses, I don't understand the nostalgia for them, especially when the local mentality is to tear down almost everything historical in the first place. These gardens will serve the public so much more than any golf course ever could.

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By golly, who knew trees, flowers and gardens would be so threatening to Houstonians. Honestly, the East End should be kicking itself silly for protesting and passing up on such a positive project. Instead these lovely gardens will now be sandwiched in between a dank freeway and a smelly petrochemical plant. As for "saving" golf courses, I don't understand the nostalgia for them, especially when the local mentality is to tear down almost everything historical in the first place. These gardens will serve the public so much more than any golf course ever could.

Gus Wortham is the Texas' oldest golf course, there's history there and not everyone wants to tear down all history.

Edited by kylejack
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"There are only 11 inside beltway 8"... Oh, and how many Botanical Gardens do we have inside of Beltway 8..?

Yeahh...

This is a huge opportunity to bring another world class amenity to our great city.. Botanical gardens are something everyone can enjoy. Golf courses are only for golfers. Side note: I play golf.

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Apparently this golf course not to be confused with Gus Wortham course, was underachieving and frankly not meeting expenses.

I haven't seen this course but I doubt that it has been properly maintained due to a lack of interest, funds or interest.

I'm thrilled that Gus Wortham was saved for its historical aspects and its natural beauty but I'm really pleased that we are going to have a world class botanical garden in Houston. 

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The conflict arose because the botanic gardens people didn't want to secure their own land but wanted to take over existing land that was already in use for a golf course. Nobody had a problem with a botanic garden existing... the problem was that they wanted to take over something else rather than buying and building on their own.

 

They got massive pushback at Gus Wortham because it has a deep connection to the community there, because it has a long history,  and because it's a pretty good municipal course (important, because municipal courses allow those with less money to get into the game rather than having to be a rich country club kid). They got only minor pushback on Glenbrook Valley because it's not quite as nice, doesn't have the deep history, and isn't used as much. The objection at Glenbrook Valley was mostly people a few people that use the course for jogging. I think they ended up at the right place, in the end.

Edited by kylejack
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The conflict arose because the botanic gardens people didn't want to secure their own land but wanted to take over existing land that was already in use for a golf course. Nobody had a problem with a botanic garden existing... the problem was that they wanted to take over something else rather than buying and building on their own.

They got massive pushback at Gus Wortham because it has a deep connection to the community there, because it has a long history, and because it's a pretty good municipal course (important, because municipal courses allow those with less money to get into the game rather than having to be a rich country club kid). They got only minor pushback on Glenbrook Valley because it's not quite as nice, doesn't have the deep history, and isn't used as much. The objection at Glenbrook Valley was mostly people a few people that use the course for jogging. I think they ended up at the right place, in the end.

Im pretty sure it was the City of Houston that determined the property was losing money and would be better served leased to someone else besides a golf course, thus putting the site up for lease.. It's not like the Botanical Garden people just came in demanding the golf course..

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Im pretty sure it was the City of Houston that determined the property was losing money and would be better served leased to someone else besides a golf course, thus putting the site up for lease.. It's not like the Botanical Garden people just came in demanding the golf course..

 

That's exactly what they did. It was driven by the botanic garden people pushing for the Gus Wortham golf course to be switched to them, not by COH looking for another use. They were speaking at public comment session at City Council, and making their case elsewhere.

Edited by kylejack
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ah yes.. blame the big bad bullies at the Botanical Garden for the city wanting to redevelop the money losing golf courses.. :rolleyes: Yes, the Botanical Garden people would have preferred Gus Wortham over Glenbrook.. but the garden people would of never decided Gus Wortham was preferred if the city werent trying to find a better use for the existing golf courses in the first place... the courses are owned by the freaking city. you really think some private garden group is able to come in and just take over without the cities cooperation?

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Council-green-lights-leases-on-2-city-green-spaces-6031407.php
 

At Gus Wortham Golf Course east of downtown, the Houston Golf Association plans to pour up to $15 million into restoring and renovating the course. At Glenbrook Golf Course, a few miles farther east, the Houston Botanic Garden wants to launch what could be a $40 million effort to develop a signature attraction for the city.

 

"I have been in the weeds of these two projects for the last year, and I can't tell you how excited I am … not just for District I but for the city of Houston," said Councilman Robert Gallegos, whose district includes both courses. "These agreements will allow both organizations to pump over $50 million in private dollars to improve these green spaces, and it will be a great addition to our city's many cultural offerings."

Officials have discussed for more than a year whether one of the eastside courses would give up golf operations in favor of a garden, amid a backdrop of stagnant or falling revenues at most of the city's municipal links. Houston Botanic Garden named Gus Wortham its first choice but it became clear community members opposed the idea, preferring a push by private citizens to raise money to renovate Gus Wortham. 

After the Houston Golf Association offered to step in, the council voted in November to stick with golf at Gus Wortham and offer the Glenbrook course to the garden instead. 

The council formalized that approach by approving lease agreements Wednesday with both nonprofits.

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Officials have discussed for more than a year whether one of the eastside courses would give up golf operations in favor of a garden, amid a backdrop of stagnant or falling revenues at most of the city's municipal links. 

 

Over a year, eh? Exactly my point. The botanic gardens people were targeting Gus Wortham at least as early as 2013. This discussion began and they ran in to this opposition because they were targeting a historic golf course rather than buying their own land.

 

As I said a few posts ago, I'm glad they have found a successful plan at Glenbrook Valley.

As to profit, I don't expect public services or facilities to turn a profit, I expect them to provide a public service. Parks like Hermann Park or public services like METRO aren't turning a profit either, nor would I expect them to.

Edited by kylejack
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You've got to be kidding me.. "Over" a year could very well stretch back as far as "2013". Your assumption that the botanical garden organization just up and came in demanding Gus Wortham/a golf course lease is completely false. Again, if it weren't for the city offering these unprofitable courses for lease in the first place, none of this would be possible. Oh, and as for Gus Wortham.. If it weren't for the city offering it up for lease/a potential botanical garden showing interest in taking over, then the "friends of Gus Wortham" or whatever likely wouldn't of had nearly the incentive/support of all the donors who eventually forked over the $15 million dollars needed to renovate it into a better course/preserve it for future generations.

And to respond to your edit... Wow. How many golf courses currently exist in Houston? Someone threw out a number earlier that was in the EIGHTIES... Now how many botanical gardens are in Houston? ZERO. I'm not saying I disagree that certain public run enterprises shouldn't be expected to turn a profit.. But geez, maybe we should diversify some of our amenities/city offerings?

Edited by cloud713
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You've got to be kidding me.. "Over" a year could very well stretch back as far as "2013". You're assumption that the botanical garden organization just up and came in demanding Gus Wortham/a golf course lease is completely false. Again, if it weren't for the city offering these unprofitable courses for lease in the first place, none of this would be possible. Oh, and as for Gus Wortham.. If it weren't for the city offering it up for lease/a potential botanical garden showing interest in taking over, then the "friends of Gus Wortham" or whatever likely wouldn't of had nearly the incentive/support of all the donors who forked over the $15 million dollars needed to renovate it into a better course.

 

If you have some evidence that the City offered this course up for lease prior to 2013, I'd love to see it. 

I'm glad that a good deal was worked out for all parties. We'll have a botanic garden replace a little-used course and HGA will renovate a historic course that a lot of people love. 

Edited by kylejack
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You're using the word demanded, not me.

Uhh. I original said it's NOT like they demanded Gus Wortham.. And then you responded saying "That's exactly what they did".. So tell me how you weren't the one accusing the botanical garden people of demanding Gus Wortham.

Evidence.. Lulz. You have no evidence that the botanical garden people specifically seeked out a city owned golf course prior to having knowledge that the properties were being put up for lease.. Just give it up and stop slandering an organization with a fantastic vision for the city of Houston and its residents.

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It sounds like what the botanical garden people did wrong was to seek the best site for their garden. I don't understand the complaint that they targeted a golf course rather than "found their own land." That's like saying that Hilcorp shouldn't have bought Foley's for their new tower, they should have found their own land. That's how you find land - see who's willing to sell.

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Uhh. I original said it's NOT like they demanded Gus Wortham.. And then you responded saying "That's exactly what they did".. So tell me how you weren't the one accusing the botanical garden people of demanding Gus Wortham.

Evidence.. Lulz. You have no evidence that the botanical garden people specifically seeked out a city owned golf course prior to having knowledge that the properties were being put up for lease.. Just give it up and stop slandering an organization with a fantastic vision for the city of Houston and its residents.

 

The properties were never put up for lease prior to botanic gardens expressing interest in 2013. The botanic gardens wanted Gus Wortham and asked for it. There was a deliberative process with plenty of input from all vested interests and it was decided that Glenbrook Valley would be better, and that HGA would renovate Wortham.

 

I'm pleased with the outcome, and it seems like you are too. So I don't really know what we're arguing over.

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It sounds like what the botanical garden people did wrong was to seek the best site for their garden. I don't understand the complaint that they targeted a golf course rather than "found their own land." That's like saying that Hilcorp shouldn't have bought Foley's for their new tower, they should have found their own land. That's how you find land - see who's willing to sell.

I didn't say they did wrong, I said they encountered resistance because they pursued a historic golf course.

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I didn't say they did wrong, I said they encountered resistance because they pursued a historic golf course.

 

You might not of said they did wrong, but you sure implied it...

 

The conflict arose because the botanic gardens people didn't want to secure their own land but wanted to take over existing land that was already in use for a golf course. Nobody had a problem with a botanic garden existing... the problem was that they wanted to take over something else rather than buying and building on their own.

As if every other cities non-profit botanical garden forked over however many millions of dollars it would cost to "secure their own land" in the middle of a major city.. Right...

You might want to do some research on botanical gardens and how they operate. Leasing land from the city is commonplace.

Edited by cloud713
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  • 1 month later...

a golf course isn't a park, but municipal golf courses are added when calculating parkland, apparently.

furthermore, having played the course, there were families walking the paths, kids flying kites on the 18th fairway. I didn't see anyone fishing, but there were also people cycling on the cart paths. So it's not like the author was making it up.

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Regardless the number of people who play from any given demographic, unlike darts (another sport using deadly objects if you are standing in the way of the flight path), the field required for golf is huge, and for previously mentioned reasons, it's impossible to realistically share the field of play with others. 

When I've played at glenbrook it's because no one goes there. I can confidently drive up to the course, and just walk up to the first tee and play. 

it's a fun course, but there don't need to be two municipal courses on the east side of town.

I don't think anyone is contending that this course needs to stay a golf course, I think the contention is that the land, while being a golf course, is underutilized in its current configuration, people from the neighborhood utilize it in other ways as a result (I can corroborate), if it becomes a botanical garden, they will lose that use.

I do wonder if the whole thing will be fenced in, or if there will just be sections of it that are fenced?

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As someone who has never really been to a botanical garden are they some members only thing or pay per visit set up? I find it odd for the city to be involved in something that from what if read sounds like a private park. Correct me if I am wrong, I am truly confused about the fencing off and not letting the local community in. 

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I've been to the one in Dallas you have to pay for entry, some are free some are not. It's like a zoo for plants.

I've not heard whether Houston's would be free or not, so I think everyone is just speculating at this point. They do close at specific times, but then, so do most parks.

It is a good assumption that it would not be free, as it's being run by a private organization, but that's just an assumption, so please don't use it as fact.

Edited by samagon
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What's wrong with just creating more parks? To me it would serve the east end better to have three 40 acre parks spread throughout the community than one big park. That way more parkland is evenly distributed to the people. I would be happier to have discovery green across the street than to have to go 3 or 4 miles to memorial park.

Also , it's easier to maximize the use of smaller parks and they are safer and more family oriented. 

If the city does reinstate the acreage of parkland, then I see this as a net gain for that area in that the botanical garden would still be considered green space and the new parks would be increasing the acreage of greenspace.

Sounds like a win win win for me.

New parks/increase in greenspace

New economic flow to the area in patrons to the park.

New amenity for the area and the city. 

 

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On March 29, 2016 at 11:38 AM, jmitch94 said:

As someone who has never really been to a botanical garden are they some members only thing or pay per visit set up? I find it odd for the city to be involved in something that from what if read sounds like a private park. Correct me if I am wrong, I am truly confused about the fencing off and not letting the local community in. 


Ive been to a few. They have a "membership" option if you plan on visiting often, or a pay per visit set up. Most botanical gardens seem to charge around $10 for admission. And as for cities "being involved", most cities botanical gardens are built on public land that they lease from the city. And yes, they are typically completely fenced off. Heres an excerpt from an article talking about NYC's botanical garden..

Quote

When he arrived from his post as the New York Public Library's vice president for public affairs and development, neighborhood residents were using the garden as a park. His first act included fencing in the grounds, banning cars and dogs, and charging admission, an unpopular but necessary move: The garden needed money to renovate.

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20140902/NONPROFITS/308319987/money-grows-on-botanical-gardens-trees

More on the gardens..

Quote

Mr. Long knows better than anyone that money doesn't grow on the garden's 30,000 trees. 

"Horticulture is expensive. Those trees need to be fertilized," he said, while nibbling on cookies and sipping tea in the Garden Terrace Room on a recent summer afternoon. "Our biggest challenge is finding new resources to support all we do." 

He casually added that the room is available for weddings and other parties. 

In his 25 years at the institution's helm, Mr. Long has continually pushed the nonprofit in search of new revenue. He introduced the wildly popular Holiday Train and Orchid shows, opened restaurants, and created festivals that have helped more than double the number of annual visitors, to 900,000, and increased the institution's earned income fivefold, to $21 million.
 

Six million dollars will be used to expand the Family Garden, where people learn how to grow and prepare fresh food. The money will also fund the creation of the Edible Academy, with indoor test kitchens and classrooms so healthy eating can be taught throughout the year. 

That project is especially dear to Mr. Long. The students love the educational programs, and they exemplify how the garden is more than a place where pretty flowers grow. 

"We want to stay relevant, and education has always been part of our mission," said Mr. Long, 67

...
 

In 2004, he opened a new visitor entrance with a large gift shop and restaurant. A parking garage followed in 2012. All three bring in money and make the garden more pleasant. Another milestone was the restoration of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which holds the annual train and orchid exhibits, as well as special displays like the successful re-creation of Monet's garden. 

In recent years, smaller events—jazz nights and family picnics—have turned into moneymakers and magnets drawing people to the garden. 

Next year's exhibit will feature Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's garden and some of her art work. Mr. Long expects that it will be a major lure. 

"We really depend on those exhibits to bring money and attention," he said.

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Maybe the HBG could designate a small portion of it as public green space, surrounded by the gardens (maybe have a small "local" garden entrance coming from the green space). Like a larger Centennial Gardens-esque "lawn", that you dont have to go through a gate to access. A place for kids to fly a kite, kick a ball around, maybe even have a themed playground, etc. Or possibly incorporate public trails around manicured edges of the property, outside the fence line? Throw in a basic pedestrian bridge on the outer edges of the property to cross the bayou around the gardens for that public/community access.

I agree that it would be a shame for the residents to have less park space, but the golf course ISNT a park, and probably should of never been included in the total "green space" in the first place. Maybe the city can add some playgrounds and/or sports fields on empty lots around the district to appease the residents, but it seems completely asinine for the local residents to not want this.

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A bit off topic, but I kinda wish they would get rid of the golf course at Hermann Park. That space could be more useful to a greater number of people if it was repurposed. The park would also benefit by combining all of the various surface lots into garages with smaller footprints. Of course, all of this is pie-in-the-sky thinking in a world with a limitless supply of money. ^_^

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2 hours ago, Luminare said:

Do we know how many of the "locals" actually use it in the first place? Thats the more telling statistic. Show that.

Only in Houston is a membership golf course a "public park" -_-

Glenbrook is a city course, not a membership course.

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15 hours ago, The Pragmatist said:

A bit off topic, but I kinda wish they would get rid of the golf course at Hermann Park. That space could be more useful to a greater number of people if it was repurposed. The park would also benefit by combining all of the various surface lots into garages with smaller footprints. Of course, all of this is pie-in-the-sky thinking in a world with a limitless supply of money. ^_^

I've said this many times, actually I said it when they were considering Gus Wortham for the botanical garden location. the golf course at hermann park is very popular though. would some of those users of that course shift over to gus wortham and glenbrook (well at least gus wortham) if hermann park were shut down? As golf courses rate, hermann is my least favorite to play, it's so boring. oh, another straight hole? Nice. a par 5 with a dogleg? may as well be straight. nice. what's the elevation change on this hole? flat, like every other hole? awesome. so boring. both glenbrook and gus wortham are far more interesting courses to play. 

anyway, yeah, rip out that course, put in some underground parking (like disco green) accessible from almeda. remove the parking lot in front of the zoo (or at least make it handicapped only). make hermann park drive usable by official park vehicles and handicapped only (so they can park in front of the zoo), at that point, you can make it a lot smaller, and possibly even remove some of it. something like that would maybe even entice people to use the part of hermann park that's on the other side of macgreggor.

but, that course makes too much money for whatever entity maintains the golf courses and they wouldn't want to let it go.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 year later...

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Houston-s-Glenbrook-Golf-Course-to-become-a-12735997.php?utm_campaign=fb-premium&utm_source=CMS+Sharing+Button&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=twitter-premium&utm_source=CMS Sharing Button&utm_medium=social

 

Work will begin within months on the first phase of converting Houston’s Glenbrook Golf Course into what the nonprofit Houston Botanic Garden hopes will be a marquee destination for visitors and residents alike.

 

Golf operations will cease at Glenbrook on April 1, Mayor Sylvester Turner said, in announcing Wednesday that the botanic garden group had met its commitment in its contract with the city to raise at least $20 million by the end of 2017.

 

The garden’s first phase is scheduled to open in late 2020, the mayor said, with site construction beginning next year.

 

 

 

 

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This is going to be a great project, but it will take several years for it to come to be and another twenty years for it to become a mature botanical gardens. 

Too bad it's not more centrally located. The good thing about the location is it will bring tourists to a completely different side of town than the normal tourist centers.

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Not that Glenbrook is bad, but Gus was a FAR superior location for this thing. If there's still opportunity, then they really should switch back to Gus.

 

@bobruss, luckily, the east/southeast sides of Houston have more mature trees and natural lushness compared to areas farther west. That should provide more than enough sight to look at while the garden is growing in.

Edited by AnTonY
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  • The title was changed to Houston Botanical Garden At The Glenbrook Golf Course

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