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Wow. This is some of the most naive garbage I have seen in a long time lol. I actually feel sorry for them.

 

1. Most of the "natural" vegetation that is there right now isn't even natural to the bayou. The stuff that was there for long ago was ripped up when they were redirecting the flow of the bayou to help try and control (which of course trying to control any river/stream/creek/bayou is futile).

 

2. All recent efforts have been to restore the bayou to what it would have been long ago. This includes adding vegetation that is native to Houston, and even creating wetlands to help curb flooding while also creating new habitats for animals that do call the bayou home or will call it home in the future.

 

3. In one of the post this loony tune 'claims' this:

 

The dotted red lines show the riparian forest and wetlands to be bulldozed and scraped on both banks of Buffalo Bayou and into Memorial Park. According to the HCFCD, 80 percent of the targeted area will be stripped of trees and vegetation. Note the areas to be cleared of trees extends into the interior of Memorial Park towards the maintenance facility. This is for access by heavy equipment to the bayou.

 

This is a textbook example of environmentalist cherry picking things which they want to hear and then regurgitating it without any context. It's no different than if you tried talking to an extreme creationist!

 

The plans are actually return the bayou's natural twist and turns meaning this is a complete reversal of flood prevention policy which is fantastic! It means that instead of fighting the flood they are going to instead use natural forces.

 

I mean lets not play around here. All that vegetation that is there is not "virgin" xD pffffft give me a break.

 

4. I'm ashamed that so many of these people are so easily fooled by this nonsense and it apparently has over 1000 likes!

 

I don't understand why environmentalism hasn't yet been deemed a cult because that's what it is! What people should practice is good stewardship of the land/environment we live in as well as common sense conservation.

 

Now of course this is just my opinion on the matter, and maybe I am wrong, but from what I have read and analyzed this is actually for the betterment.

Edited by Luminare
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Well, I'm hoping for a lively discussion after that post. Guess I'm jaded living close to a bayou that was paved before I got here and now have to pay drainage fees for civil engineer's "solution" to flooding here.

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I've never understood why the City of Houston ever allowed Memorial Park to be such an overgrown "woodland" anyway?  Most of the park is not useable, and the portions that are accessible to the public are right on top of two major roads that bisect the park into a north/south portion.

 

The people up in arms about this small stretch of Bayou would do much better spending their money and time to help the Katy Prairie Conservancy aquire more land and develop parks, or at least regional plan for the far western fringes of Houston, than worry about the loss of a little "wetland" that will eventually come back along one small stretch of Buffalo Bayou!

 

And where were these people during the previous phases of development along Buffalo Bayou?

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I've never understood why the City of Houston ever allowed Memorial Park to be such an overgrown "woodland" anyway?  Most of the park is not useable, and the portions that are accessible to the public are right on top of two major roads that bisect the park into a north/south portion.

...

 

And where were these people during the previous phases of development along Buffalo Bayou?

 

I believe there was a clause in the deed to will the land to the city, by the Hogg estate. They wanted it to be a park, to honor returning soldiers.

 

... I've often wondered why that section of BB was left untouched, as well. 

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Wow. This is some of the most naive garbage I have seen in a long time lol. I actually feel sorry for them.

 

1. Most of the "natural" vegetation that is there right now isn't even natural to the bayou. The stuff that was there for long ago was ripped up when they were redirecting the flow of the bayou to help try and control (which of course trying to control any river/stream/creek/bayou is futile).

 

2. All recent efforts have been to restore the bayou to what it would have been long ago. This includes adding vegetation that is native to Houston, and even creating wetlands to help curb flooding while also creating new habitats for animals that do call the bayou home or will call it home in the future.

 

3. In one of the post this loony tune 'claims' this:

 

The dotted red lines show the riparian forest and wetlands to be bulldozed and scraped on both banks of Buffalo Bayou and into Memorial Park. According to the HCFCD, 80 percent of the targeted area will be stripped of trees and vegetation. Note the areas to be cleared of trees extends into the interior of Memorial Park towards the maintenance facility. This is for access by heavy equipment to the bayou.

 

This is a textbook example of environmentalist cherry picking things which they want to hear and then regurgitating it without any context. It's no different than if you tried talking to an extreme creationist!

 

The plans are actually return the bayou's natural twist and turns meaning this is a complete reversal of flood prevention policy which is fantastic! It means that instead of fighting the flood they are going to instead use natural forces.

 

I mean lets not play around here. All that vegetation that is there is not "virgin" xD pffffft give me a break.

 

4. I'm ashamed that so many of these people are so easily fooled by this nonsense and it apparently has over 1000 likes!

 

I don't understand why environmentalism hasn't yet been deemed a cult because that's what it is! What people should practice is good stewardship of the land/environment we live in as well as common sense conservation.

 

Now of course this is just my opinion on the matter, and maybe I am wrong, but from what I have read and analyzed this is actually for the betterment.

 

Not to rain on your hysteria, but you do realize that the group that's trying to do these things that you applaud - is an environmental group?

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Nena, Yes I realize that Memorial Park was a gift, I just question why the city has done as little as possible for it over the years.  Take out the golf course and Memorial Park is what 85% or so raw woodland (more like raw scrubby trees with undergrowth).  It is hardly a "city park" and more of a green-space.

 

Does anyone else feel like Memorial Park is vastly under utilized?

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Not to rain on your hysteria, but you do realize that the group that's trying to do these things that you applaud - is an environmental group?

 

You sir need to reread what I posted. Plus you need to learn the definition of hysteria. I show no support for what this group is saying or doing. I support the city and the development plan. I'm certainly not hysterical, and I'm only providing rational for why these people are insane.

 

The funnest stuff is on the fb page. You could just imagine them with tinfoil hats lol. One commenter was like, 'oh this looks like a great spot some condo's'. The rest are nothing but sheep.

 

Honestly, I just can't stand ignorance of this caliber.

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Arche_757 - I do agree that it is under utilized. I wonder if restrictions keep the city from doing too much. Or if they just chose to put all the money into Hermann Park.

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It depends on what you mean by "underutilized". Well, I suppose a better idea would be some sort of natural area that's protected from development.

There's a bit of a rift between people who want "parks" and people who want "nature". To be "useful", a park should either be clear-cut for fields and sporting uses, or they want to hack through and make a lighted, paved bike path. That's what separates Hermann from Memorial. Hermann is manicured with its zoo, mini-train, and public spaces, while Memorial features a few areas for sports but offers mostly untouched woodlands. Frankly, I prefer Memorial, though the drought has made it look a bit ragged.

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I've always thought Memorial is a dumpy park.  Central Park in NYC has "woodlands" too, not every inch of Memorial Park need be paved or plowed over for playing fields, but there should be some space reserved for public use that isn't entirely overgrown.

 

I think its time the city get rid of the golf course and open that up for use as a set of public lawns and playing fields.  Run maybe a couple additional hike and bike paths around through the thicket and allow access to the Bayou in places.  I'm not advocating for complete deforestation, just take out a little space for people to use.  Hermann is a nice park, and far more accessible - which is what a park is supposed to be.  Memorial is more of a buffer between the Intersections of I-10 and 610, which is not great.

 

Also, imagine if the north and west sides of the park had land around them for people to live by... instead we have 2 major freeways that will never ever, ever go away.  How sad.  Great planning by the folks who laid out the interstates back in the day.

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I guess I should have called this post save Buffalo Bayou in Memorial Park.

Many RO residents enjoyed the privacy the bayou offered behind their homes and the country club. A mutual agreement was reached so they have bowed out. Ironic since many are behind "Trees for Houston" and have donated a handsome sum to reforest the park.

I think I'll enjoy the entertainment area of the bayou from Shepherd to 77002, but would equally enjoy the "wild" side of this small area of a natural habit between 610 and Shepherd.

The map shows nearly all of the tree line along that stretch of the bayou will be removed. Seems like when Allison hit, the bayou along the park didn't suffer much of the flood's wrath but rather inundated downtown when it met up with White Oak Bayou.

It's all about making money, but improving the bayou along Memorial Park to create more gritty bike trails, public launch areas for kayaking, bird trails, etc. for those of us that enjoy a natural environment as opposed to a profitable river walk knock-off is quite appealing to me.

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It's all about making money, but improving the bayou along Memorial Park to create more gritty bike trails, public launch areas for kayaking, bird trails, etc. for those of us that enjoy a natural environment as opposed to a profitable river walk knock-off is quite appealing to me.

 

Who says it needs to be a "Riverwalk knock off?"

 

I do not understand the people - and there are a lot of them - that see that stretch of the Bayou, and its complete inaccessiblity save from the views of the uberwealth in River Oaks the purpose of not having even a decent dirt/gravel path along the Bayou?

 

How natural is that stretch anyway?  Much of what is now Houston was flat coastal plains with few trees (look at the old pictures from the turn of last century - such as those showing the Rice Institute for proof).

 

Here is what I would like to see done on Memorial Park:  cover over parts of Memorial and Woodway with useable spaces and safe pedestrain crossings.  Do away with the golf course and open those spaces up for strolling, playing fields and the like.  Add a minimal impact path along the Bayou on the south side of the park - hopefully continue that along the way eventually all the way to the Beltway at some point.  Everything that gets built or landscaped ought to be low-impact vegitation, walkways etc.

 

What is it about the vast unreachable spaces of Memorial Park that you (and others) so enjoy?  The trees as viewed while speeding down Memorial or Woodway, or sitting in traffic at 610/I-10?

 

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You sir need to reread what I posted. Plus you need to learn the definition of hysteria. I show no support for what this group is saying or doing. I support the city and the development plan. I'm certainly not hysterical, and I'm only providing rational for why these people are insane.

 

The funnest stuff is on the fb page. You could just imagine them with tinfoil hats lol. One commenter was like, 'oh this looks like a great spot some condo's'. The rest are nothing but sheep.

 

Honestly, I just can't stand ignorance of this caliber.

 

http://www.bayoupreservation.org/

 

By any definition, an environmental group.

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What is it about the vast unreachable spaces of Memorial Park that you (and others) so enjoy? The trees as viewed while speeding down Memorial or Woodway, or sitting in traffic at 610/I-10?

Any state or national park is going to have "unreachable" spaces, and even though I am no environmentalist, I think it should be left untouched and natural. And while it's not your intent, I've NEVER regretted seeing undeveloped areas along highways.

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Any state or national park is going to have "unreachable" spaces, and even though I am no environmentalist, I think it should be left untouched and natural. And while it's not your intent, I've NEVER regretted seeing undeveloped areas along highways.

 

This is a city park, in fact its Houston's "other" city park aside from Hermann Park!  Access to hike/bike paths in National Parks is better than what Memorial Park offers.

 

I don't regret seeing undeveloped areas along highways, but this is a poorly planned urban park along a poorly planned stretch of freeway.  Surely City of Houston planners could have anticipated people prefering to live by, and have access to a city park?

 

You mistake my intent here.  I say "Memorial Park is not nearly good enough"  you think "He wants to have the trees cut down and open everything up"

 

I dont' want to tear down the trees, I do want to remove some of the kudzoo like undergrowth and allow people perhaps 3-4 addtional paths through the forrest to reach the Bayou and be able to put-in a kayak or canoe, and also walk from Downtown to at least the 610 feeder roads right now (eventually to Beltway 8).  That's what I want.  Memorial Park as it stands is far less useable to anyone than what it ought to be.

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http://www.bayoupreservation.org/

 

By any definition, an environmental group.

 

Ok since someone is not looking at the bigger picture here. Let me explain myself.

 

I'm against "environmentalist" like the fundamentalist kind who only attack on these issues just to get attention, or because they just like trees, or believe humans are all evil, or worship mother nature, or run these kinds of groups like cults.

 

As someone who works in the profession of building/designing buildings that will sometimes go on undeveloped sites its important for an architect to develop a sense of environmental stewardship as well as principals of good conservation.

 

What these people practice in groups like Save the Bayou are not that. They are drones who do not govern themselves by logical reason and are instead guided by pure emotion which leads them to formulate silly opinions about the earth and the environment which are both naive and completely ridiculous.

 

A professor I had in college once told me that "tree huggers" are dumb (my synopsis). You are not going to positively change the environment, protect, preserve....whatever it is by going up to a tree and hugging it. By the way, he wasn't some raging conservative or bagging money from big oil. He was professor of Building systems at my architecture school who truly believed in global warming and was very liberal. He also had also developed many HVAC systems for 20-30 years.

 

Environmentalism that we know today is not the environmentalism that existed before the 1960's and 1970's. Probably the first great "environmentalist" was Teddy Roosevelt. However if you asked him what an environmentalist was in his time he would probably tell you it was about conservation, and stewardship. Fast forward to the radical counter movements of the 1960's and 1970's when this wasn't the case. Instead environmentalist was essentially co-op'ed by progressives. They changed the notion (just like they changed the idea of liberalism) and brought about environmentalist movements that no longer were environmental goal oriented, but politically oriented. Not to mention they were no longer about a balance between human and nature, but a world view which humans were the enemy and nature was elevated to the position of deity making it pretty much a sin for humans to do anything to the environment because we were essentially evil.

 

You can have an environmental group, but that doesn't mean that it is "Environmentalist" in the notion that many think about today. BPA is a conservationist group as well as restorationist one. It seeks to bring back a natural order of things through human intervention. While it is always smart to ask questions and not blindly follow something, it's another to completely write it off on the basis that "oh they are going to cut all these trees! It must be bad! Protest!" BPA isn't perfect, but its logical and is a sound solution to not only Buffalo Bayou, but probably all our bayous going forward.

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This is a city park, in fact its Houston's "other" city park aside from Hermann Park!  Access to hike/bike paths in National Parks is better than what Memorial Park offers.

 

I don't regret seeing undeveloped areas along highways, but this is a poorly planned urban park along a poorly planned stretch of freeway.  Surely City of Houston planners could have anticipated people prefering to live by, and have access to a city park?

 

You mistake my intent here.  I say "Memorial Park is not nearly good enough"  you think "He wants to have the trees cut down and open everything up"

 

I dont' want to tear down the trees, I do want to remove some of the kudzoo like undergrowth and allow people perhaps 3-4 addtional paths through the forrest to reach the Bayou and be able to put-in a kayak or canoe, and also walk from Downtown to at least the 610 feeder roads right now (eventually to Beltway 8).  That's what I want.  Memorial Park as it stands is far less useable to anyone than what it ought to be.

Houston (and by extension Harris County) have several other parks that are more than a block, and I admit that Memorial Park is one of the largest parks. As for biking paths, there are paths that go from Memorial Park to 610 quite easily, unless you want something that bypasses the frontage roads quite easily like a footbridge.

Otherwise, some of your arguments seem a bit silly: with the exception of that little cluster to the west of 610 (presumably cut through to the Northwest Transit Center if METRO gets their way), all of the park is contained to the southeast of 610 and Interstate 10. The only that does cut through is the railroad, which since you weren't complaining about I'm going to assume doesn't matter.

I suppose if you wanted a place to put in a canoe, that should be achievable if you drive down the power line ROW to the bayou line. Any hike/bike paths along the bayou won't be contiguous with Buffalo Bayou Park, because there's properties that directly abut the bayou. Probably best to widen the south sidewalk of Memorial or something.

What I would like to see is segregated hike/bike trails. Nothing like hiking and having to jump out of the way due to mountain bikers, steep drop-offs be damned.

Edited by IronTiger

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I suppose if you wanted a place to put in a canoe, that should be achievable if you drive down the power line ROW to the bayou line. Any hike/bike paths along the bayou won't be contiguous with Buffalo Bayou Park, because there's properties that directly abut the bayou. Probably best to widen the south sidewalk of Memorial or something.

What I would like to see is segregated hike/bike trails. Nothing like hiking and having to jump out of the way due to mountain bikers, steep drop-offs be damned.

 

I'm not sure what seems silly?  Please explain.

 

What I want:

-A few more paths for hiking and biking.  (I agree the dumpy bike paths that drop off 4' all over are not adequate hike paths)

-Roads covered/lower in a few spots to allow greater continuity of the park. (Allow for TOTAL pedestrian access to the park in as many places as possible.  Currently Memorial Park caters more to the automobile than to the pedestrian.  I realize there's not a choo-choo running through the park, but we should be able to reduce some of the visual blight that is Memorial Drive and Woodway)

-That railroad cutting through really does suck.  No getting around that. (that railroad sucks, it cuts through Memorial Park, isolates Highland Village from other meaningful developments and is in general ugly - ugly - ugly).

-One put-in for kayaks and the like on the bayou.  Just one. (is that hard to visualize?)

-Better overall planning for the parking and layout of public spaces, so much of what was/has been done at Memorial lacks real direction. (overall the park needs to be re-done in the same guise as Hermann Park.  A masterplan that addresses the shortcomings and moves to remedy them would be great.)

-Clean up the park.  Its a mess.  (I think removing much of the visual blight that is the roads bisecting the park in half would go a long way to helping here.  That and cleaning up some of the underbrush - not ALL the underbrush, some of it.)

 

Does that not make sense?  You mean to tell me the park - as it is today - is 100% perfect?  Needs zero work?

 

If I could ever figure out a way to upload images from scans and the like on my computer I could illustrate what I'm talking about.

 

 

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Otherwise, some of your arguments seem a bit silly: with the exception of that little cluster to the west of 610 (presumably cut through to the Northwest Transit Center if METRO gets their way), all of the park is contained to the southeast of 610 and Interstate 10. The only that does cut through is the railroad, which since you weren't complaining about I'm going to assume doesn't matter.

 

So you think its great that the one of the largest parks in town has on two of its ~4ish (since its not a rectangle) sides major freeways that not only form a border with the park, but offer zero chance at any residential or commerical ever having been developed next to the park?  Personally I think that is just bad city planning.

 

I will add - the park has its champions.  Clearly people like it as is.  I'm just saying it could be better if some issues were addressed.  Again - I'd love to see the existing city golf course gone and replaced by a myriad of playing fields, lake, walking areas and the like.  It would be like a park within a park.  Think of the "great lawn" it could offer people of this city.

 

I recall something about a masterplan being discussed years ago - and the golf course was mentioned as a potential casualty so maybe that's in the works?

Edited by arche_757

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Well, as for better bike paths, I agree--the drop-offs are meant as hiking paths and should be signed as such. But mountain bikers still do it anyway. Some paths actually meant for biking (maybe with some challenges) would be nice.
But when you talk about covering roads you're not talking about a project that would be equal to a bunch of other minor projects. There's a fairly wide path next to Memorial that goes under the railroad and bypasses the road. There's already a curving bridge that goes over Memorial. 
I'm saying that I agree with you about kayaks and canoes, it could be accessed through the power line right of way that parallels the railroad. That could be paved and everything! It would be fairly cheap and wouldn't require a lot.
Maybe Memorial Park could benefit from some overall planning but I'm recoiling at the idea it should be Hermann Park II.
I rather like the roads going through Memorial Park which you claim is visual blight. Frankly, for all the problems I dislike with Central Park (in New York), it does have roads in it. Underbrush should be cleared out periodically as well, but is that really that "worth it" in terms of how Memorial Park "should be"? Sure, it's nice, but that's a continuous maintenance thing and not a one-time thing.
 

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By the way, if you don't mind me asking, what happened between October 2013 and March 2014? It seems like a lot of trees died anyway somehow (Google Earth)

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I don't want Hermann Park II.  You're mistaking the paths running parallel to Memorial Drive as the paths I'm talking about.  I'm talking about creating new spaces in the park by covering over parts of Memorial and Woodway with north-south running parkscape and creating new north-south running paths, and submerging the roadway in a few places to do so.  Now - I'll grant you that's an expensive and unlikely project (but this is a forum and not reality so I can ponder my thoughts and imagine what could be).

 

As for the planning... I'd like to see some more naturally integrated parking lots - even some porous surfaces for them.  More walk-paths througout and my idea for a great lawn on what is now a golf course.

 

Central Park does have roads crossing it, but they are cleverly hidden for most of the way.  I imagine Memorial Park as something more like Central Park - mostly "natural space" with a few man made areas including perhaps a water feature than can even run to the bayou (perhaps that can include a "launch"?).  Again, not advocating for the trees to all get swept aside.

 

You know what happened.

Edited by arche_757

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I don't want Hermann Park II.  You're mistaking the paths running parallel to Memorial Drive as the paths I'm talking about.  I'm talking about creating new spaces in the park by covering over parts of Memorial and Woodway with north-south running parkscape and creating new north-south running paths, and submerging the roadway in a few places to do so.  Now - I'll grant you that's an expensive and unlikely project (but this is a forum and not reality so I can ponder my thoughts and imagine what could be).

 

As for the planning... I'd like to see some more naturally integrated parking lots - even some porous surfaces for them.  More walk-paths througout and my idea for a great lawn on what is now a golf course.

 

Central Park does have roads crossing it, but they are cleverly hidden for most of the way.  I imagine Memorial Park as something more like Central Park - mostly "natural space" with a few man made areas including perhaps a water feature than can even run to the bayou (perhaps that can include a "launch"?).  Again, not advocating for the trees to all get swept aside.

 

You know what happened.

 

Maybe I can do a couple of sketches of maybe what you are talking about, scan them and post them, because there really does seem to be a disconnect here.

 

Also I made a rather large comment post onto Save the Bayou's fb page and just received an equally lengthy response which I will plant on this thread which can further this debate.

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I was not clear in that I don't want Hermann and Memorial to be identical - just that I want Memorial Park to be a little more than 2 jogging paths, some mountain bike trails and a public golf course.  As it can be much more than that.  I tend to think that it would be easy to implement some new paths and even access to the bayou without spending too much money.

 

I still want a continuous bike/hike path all the way along Buffalo Bayou to the Beltway.

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By the way, if you don't mind me asking, what happened between October 2013 and March 2014? It seems like a lot of trees died anyway somehow (Google Earth)

 

Victims of the drought. A lot of trees died.

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So you think its great that the one of the largest parks in town has on two of its ~4ish (since its not a rectangle) sides major freeways that not only form a border with the park, but offer zero chance at any residential or commerical ever having been developed next to the park?  Personally I think that is just bad city planning.

 

I will add - the park has its champions.  Clearly people like it as is.  I'm just saying it could be better if some issues were addressed.  Again - I'd love to see the existing city golf course gone and replaced by a myriad of playing fields, lake, walking areas and the like.  It would be like a park within a park.  Think of the "great lawn" it could offer people of this city.

 

I recall something about a masterplan being discussed years ago - and the golf course was mentioned as a potential casualty so maybe that's in the works?

 

You really want to close the most popular golf course in the city? That course is packed, plus it is a great course. It's also been there since the 30's, and is historic. Last I heard, it also makes a profit.

 

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So I'm not going to add any commentary to what I'm about to post, but this was a comment I posted on the fb site. I'll let others decide what to think about it before I respond further:

 

[Luminare]: LOL you all are absolute fools if you think any of what is there now is "virgin" xD I'm going to literally die from laughter! Almost all of what is there now isn't even what was there long long ago. Go read up on your history. Most of what is now Memorial park was a former military base called Camp Logan during WWI (its why it's called Memorial Park....as a dedication to that Camp). To build that camp they pretty much had to lay waste to most of the "natural" vegetation. Also the whole bayou has been dug up numerous times in attempts to straighten the river to control flooding (which never works). The map you so detest is a map that shows plans to help bring back some of the natural curves of the bayou! Yes it is a plan to help the bayou and restore it's proper flow. Not only that but they are helping to bring back natural vegetation that is actually native to Houston. I also see comments about the Sierra Club, because they know so much about our city and they certainly are not propping this up just to get attention. Absolutely not! *sarcasm* Anyway sorry for raining on your tiny parade with actual facts. Please abandon your sad environmentalism and join the side of environmental stewardship and conservation. Thank you.

 

Save Buffalo Bayou: Goodness, [Luminare]. Where to start? This stretch of the bayou is completely natural and has never been channelised except for a tiny section at the downstream end of the project area near the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. You can read that in the archeology report included in the Harris County Flood Control District's permit application to the Corps of Engineers. See page 587.

The existence and remains of Camp Logan, a World War I military training camp established on both banks of the bayou in what was later to become Memorial Park and the River Oaks Country Club, are the reason why this area has been designated a State Antiquities Landmark. Another good reason why these banks should not be bulldozed.

Camp Logan was established 100 years ago. Clearing some trees and vegetation a century ago does not make the trees and vegetation that grow back unnatural. No one is arguing that this riparian forest is an old-growth forest. There is very little old-growth forest left in the world.

And there is very little riparian forest left anywhere in a major city. That is why we are fighting so hard to protect it and our natural bayou from the bulldozers.

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Ok since someone is not looking at the bigger picture here. Let me explain myself.

 

I'm against "environmentalist" like the fundamentalist kind who only attack on these issues just to get attention, or because they just like trees, or believe humans are all evil, or worship mother nature, or run these kinds of groups like cults.

 

As someone who works in the profession of building/designing buildings that will sometimes go on undeveloped sites its important for an architect to develop a sense of environmental stewardship as well as principals of good conservation.

 

What these people practice in groups like Save the Bayou are not that. They are drones who do not govern themselves by logical reason and are instead guided by pure emotion which leads them to formulate silly opinions about the earth and the environment which are both naive and completely ridiculous.

 

A professor I had in college once told me that "tree huggers" are dumb (my synopsis). You are not going to positively change the environment, protect, preserve....whatever it is by going up to a tree and hugging it. By the way, he wasn't some raging conservative or bagging money from big oil. He was professor of Building systems at my architecture school who truly believed in global warming and was very liberal. He also had also developed many HVAC systems for 20-30 years.

 

Environmentalism that we know today is not the environmentalism that existed before the 1960's and 1970's. Probably the first great "environmentalist" was Teddy Roosevelt. However if you asked him what an environmentalist was in his time he would probably tell you it was about conservation, and stewardship. Fast forward to the radical counter movements of the 1960's and 1970's when this wasn't the case. Instead environmentalist was essentially co-op'ed by progressives. They changed the notion (just like they changed the idea of liberalism) and brought about environmentalist movements that no longer were environmental goal oriented, but politically oriented. Not to mention they were no longer about a balance between human and nature, but a world view which humans were the enemy and nature was elevated to the position of deity making it pretty much a sin for humans to do anything to the environment because we were essentially evil.

 

You can have an environmental group, but that doesn't mean that it is "Environmentalist" in the notion that many think about today. BPA is a conservationist group as well as restorationist one. It seeks to bring back a natural order of things through human intervention. While it is always smart to ask questions and not blindly follow something, it's another to completely write it off on the basis that "oh they are going to cut all these trees! It must be bad! Protest!" BPA isn't perfect, but its logical and is a sound solution to not only Buffalo Bayou, but probably all our bayous going forward.

 

Oh dear, the bigger picture.

 

On the one hand, the Bayou Preservation Association, an organization I know little about but would guess - is probably not deeply-pocketed but successful enough to have staff and the money to launch a major restoration project on Buffalo Bayou, with a long list of members many or most of whom would not balk at the word environmentalist; and with an explicitly environmental purpose, if we are to do them the courtesy of taking their mission statement at face value - I don't see anything there about health care or the arts or women and only a little bit about education. I am getting a pretty strong vibe: environmental group.

 

That group in charge of, or at the very least almost certainly leading the push for, a project you claim to support.

On the other hand, a likely small and probably well-meaning group of folks who differ on the need for the project, or may not grasp the difference between native vegetation and privet (I haven't the time to learn their specific objections). And who have created ... a Facebook page.

 

And your takeaway is that the environmental movement is the enemy?

 

I would feign surprise, but why bother. Environmentalists bad, the last bad people in fact: this is the one-note chorus of the times, and when people are all parroting something in unison, it generally means someone has gone to the trouble of brainwashing them.
It is not coincidental that the movement has never been weaker, and that the odds are all against the environment.
Oh, those powerful baddies, the environmentalists ...
  

Your conclusion is exactly backward. Environmentalism was so mainstream in the sixties and seventies that  Nixon was perfectly comfortable with it, and was arguably its most effective presidential advocate in modern times. But it was threatening to both left and right, and they, and their mindless dogsbodies, libertarians, with the easy cooperation of the media (worst: Wall Street Journal, second worst: Washington Post; probably Rush Limbaugh, or maybe Fox News, are worse, but the WSJ and WP are influential because "respectable") have colluded in the last 15-20 years to convince the public that concern for the environment is "elitist," the very opposite of "progressive." Oh, and kind of "airy-fairy."*

Precisely because environmentalism is not about people {though people are in so many ways its beneficiaries, and not just because of clean drinking water!}. Indeed, it is sceptical of the future, of the whole idea of limitless human progress without cost, and above all we cannot tolerate that. Down the memory hole!

So leftists with the eager encouragement of neocons (by all means, do our work for us!) were successful in belatedly assigning ideological baggage to the environmental movement, that the people in the trenches, who were busy establishing parks and preserves, and saving or recreating wetlands (thank you, Ducks Unlimited!) and bringing species back from extinction, and working to ban DDT, and keeping sewage out of rivers, and fighting the damming of the Grand Canyon, and bringing the science of ecology into being, and monitoring the health of the ocean, and starting even things as simple as campaigns to encourage people not to litter - yes, that was environmentalism! - never had. Or reverse the formulation: curtailing domestic population growth, something Americans were in near agreement on in the seventies, is now a completely taboo subject. That was done by the right, neatly co-opting the language of the left.

Caring about nature, simply qua nature, has been turned into something you have to apologize for. Witness how the first thing out of anyone's mouth is: "Well, I'm not an environmentalist, but..." and then nine times out of ten they proceed to say something that proves their sympathies, their natural home, lie with environmentalism.
It is not a dirty word, and what it is about has not much changed, only become more refined as we knew more, until the last fifteen or 20 years  --  when those efforts to undermine environmentalism began to bear fruit in terms of changing the dialogue within environmental groups.

Now, we are told, it's not about biodiversity, it's about "people in the environment."  See as a single example last month's New Yorker article on the damage that has been done to the Nature Conservancy by a CEO who is convinced its mission has something to do with people, and with fooling the free market into ... doing something or other. His legacy so far is some sort of $10 million mapping software. The Conservancy's actual mission of "conserving land and water" - for wildlife, specifically endangered species - and the work people do and have done for that organization, which if you know anything about this, is hardly considered anti-Establishment: he loftily considers all of that old-school thinking. He has indicated that he considers preserving landscapes, work at the  species level - to be part of that outmoded thinking.
I wonder where he got that idea? 
 
If people matter, it is because life matters. That should be axiomatic.

 

The backlash against the environment has been skillfully and cynically orchestrated and has so weakened the environmental movement that it will die with the last of the Boomers. 

Take the billboard issue, which reared its ugly head this week: once our  grandmothers and their garden club would have readily signed a petition to remove the blight of billboards. The issue was seen for exactly what it is, scenic roads: no less and, crucially, no more. Is it better to live amid beauty or ugliness, when one has the luxury to choose. Is it better for people, if you like: a matter of common sense. Try it in 2014: don't you care about people and their jobs? Are you a radical that hates people, hates the free market?!! Hates freedom?
 
Teddy Roosevelt: two threads to the history of environmentalism in America unite in T.R.. One might be called professional or practical perhaps, the other owes much to the Romantic movement. Although T.R. is usually identified with Gifford Pinchot, and thus with former strand, Pinchot's stewardship of the national forests resulted in some very bad practices from which American forests have yet to (will probably never) recover. And the two of them sometimes wanted forests to be where they didn't even belong. That was the Progrssive faith in wise stewardship. But it was other spirit, the purely romantic attachment to wilderness felt by Teddy Roosevelt, that we honor in him, and that holds up even better to scrutiny now. It was this impulse that led to the mad, heroic all-nighter of the Midnight Forests, which even my husband - professional conservationist, worshipper of T.R. - admits led to some odd public land designations.
Anyone attempting anything like the Midnight Forests now - would be quickly branded a radical. And it was radical, no question.

Were he living now, T.R. would be depressed all right. And you would never have heard of him.

 
*What a brave stance your professor took there. I've never heard anyone make fun of tree huggers before! Especially not on an urbanist blog!
Maybe he was thinking of John Muir, who said of the redwood forest bought and named in his honor, "This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world."
John Muir with his dozens of ascents of American mountains, without equipment, before climbing was heard of as a sport in this country.

Well, I'm a tree-hugger. That's pretty much all I am. I'll never apologize for that, just because some people really do hate nature, and some others feel threatened by anything that is not human-centric, and some couldn't care less either way, but find it easier to make money when environmentalists are marginalized.

 

Edited by luciaphile
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You really want to close the most popular golf course in the city? That course is packed, plus it is a great course. It's also been there since the 30's, and is historic. Last I heard, it also makes a profit.

 

 

I do.  My Dad used to play there and said it was a great course, hard to get into though.  There are 165 Golf Courses of varying states and access in Houston, losing one is not a big deal.  That said, I know its very unlikely.  Golfers have money and pay money to play at that course.  However, I wonder if the park breaks even with their fees?  Golf courses are very expensive to maintain.

 

I'm not too concerned about Becks Prime.

 

Its too bad that the City of Houston didn't buy up most of the land between Memorial Park and Shephard Drive back before it had much developed on it and continue that as parkscape and include a nice cultural piece in Bayou Bend... Reality is the city did not.  Oh well.  At least the Bayou is getting some serious attention!

 

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So - my take from the first comments on this page:

 

There are 4 groups in this from what I can see: Group 1 (the enviromentalists - if that's the right term), Group 2 (the non-enviromentalists), Group 3 (the City), Group 4 (the silent majority who couldn't care and won't lift a finger either way).

 

Of those groups I think I may side with the first group, as I believe they're well intentioned and the overall impact of doing nothing certainly won't hurt the bayou!  Plus, I can see them leaning more towards my stance on the golf course...

 

I'm not sure I understand the vitriol aimed at them though?  Nothing wrong with being passionate about things.  Land use in America is major issue moving into these upcoming decades - as big as water rights (since they play into each other).  As we increase in population over the next 5 decades we will need more publicly accessible lands, not less.  However, the balance is finding what to do, and what not to do.  Anger is quickly misdirected even when well intentioned in this issues.

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I was not clear in that I don't want Hermann and Memorial to be identical - just that I want Memorial Park to be a little more than 2 jogging paths, some mountain bike trails and a public golf course.  As it can be much more than that.  I tend to think that it would be easy to implement some new paths and even access to the bayou without spending too much money.

 

I still want a continuous bike/hike path all the way along Buffalo Bayou to the Beltway.

 

You left out the following just off the top of my head,

 

Tennis Center

Swimming Pool

Playground Equipment

Croquet Lawn

Bicycle Loop

Beck's Prime

Softball Fields

Kickball League

Soccer Field

Sand Volleyball courts

Trail Ride Headquarters

Festival host

Marathon route

Nature Center

Arboretum

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You left out the following just off the top of my head,

 

Tennis Center

Swimming Pool (

Playground Equipment (this should be a requirement for all parks)

Croquet Lawn (what?)

Bicycle Loop (recent additon)

Beck's Prime

Softball Fields

Kickball League

Soccer Field

Sand Volleyball courts

Trail Ride Headquarters

Festival host

Marathon route

Nature Center

Arboretum

 

You got me!  Apparently I didn't realize just how amazing Memorial Park is?  I mean it has everything doesn't it?  Everything under the sun.  No need, or room for improvement, what-so-ever.  Its 100% perfect just how it is!

 

And you - even living in great Boston - must realize that it still has room for improvements.  And its mostly a big jogging trail and recently done bike path that runs along two roads.  So much potential to be such a fantastic park.... oh well.  Its fine as is.  Just like the rest of the city - no need for improvements its just fine.

 

Edited by arche_757
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I wasn't trying to get you. I was just trying to be factual. You left off quite a bit from Memorial Park's list of amenities. Quite frankly, I love Memorial Park as is. I think it is the perfect balance between nature and activities. But hey, that's just my opinion.

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So, it looks like the horse trails (that originally ran through much of that land) next to the polo field are still used. Anyone seen any lately? I've never spotted any from the parkway. 

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The polo field and its associated horsery are separate from Memorial Park.

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On the horsey topic:  I vaguely remember that there once was a rent-a-horse operation north of Memorial Drive, just west of the park (which would be on the west side of 610 today).  After renting an equine buddy, one could traverse some horse trails on the west side of Memorial Park.  Also, there was an official horse stable facility, I think for Harris County, nearby and just south of Memorial.

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I wasn't trying to get you. I was just trying to be factual. You left off quite a bit from Memorial Park's list of amenities. Quite frankly, I love Memorial Park as is. I think it is the perfect balance between nature and activities. But hey, that's just my opinion.

 

We all exagerate...from time to time.

 

The park is planed (it seems both from using it, looking at it from afar) in a rather incomplete, ad-hoc fashion.  Existing facilites must be accessed via the automobile.... that is a sad statement for any park that is located in an urban area!  Look, I'm not saying bulldoze the whole thing, just that some portions of the park can use a significant dose of planning and some new facilities to better serve the population.

 

Give it to a qualified Landscape architect and let them figure out a way to make it more accessible without losing the verdant green forest many want.

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We all exagerate...from time to time.

 

The park is planed (it seems both from using it, looking at it from afar) in a rather incomplete, ad-hoc fashion.  Existing facilites must be accessed via the automobile.... that is a sad statement for any park that is located in an urban area!  Look, I'm not saying bulldoze the whole thing, just that some portions of the park can use a significant dose of planning and some new facilities to better serve the population.

 

Give it to a qualified Landscape architect and let them figure out a way to make it more accessible without losing the verdant green forest many want.

 

I'll have to go take another look, but I recall from the last time I was in Memorial park there were hike and bike trails all over the place connecting all the venues.  The city upgraded some of those and built a bridge over Memorial drive in recent years.  What's the access issue here?

 

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There are hike and bike trails everywhere, but the park still needs to be planned better.

 

Connectivity issues are abundant, its not easy to park near the tennis courts and then stroll through the park to the sand volleyball courts.

 

I'm done arguing to fence posts, you guys love Memorial Park without any further improvements that's fine.  Bravo.  I simply always want the best for Houston.  And Memorial Park - while a big park and it does have "wild" areas - is far from being the best big urban park in the US.

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1) Why would you park at the tennis center if you were wanting to hit the sand volleyball courts?

 

2) There's a wide, soft-pack walking trail that you can follow if you want to walk between the two. Sure it isn't a direct route, but that's because...

 

3) If you wanted a shorter route between the two, you'd have to make a walking trail through the golf course. That isn't going to happen.

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Thanks for the article.

 

I [a] don't know enough to have an opinion on the effort to keep the bayou from meandering where it will - beyond asking that, the next time you see a liburbarian complaining about environmentalists and open space in other parts of the country "driving up the cost of housing," etc., recall this controversy: were there a truly ample buffer of open space, the bayou's movements, be they natural or runoff-worsened, wouldn't be so threatening; and I am entirely sympatico with the writer's seeming sympathies.

 

But, and it is a very big but, she errs greatly in putting about the notion that this is an "intact forest." The last time I visited Bayou Bend, about a year ago, I observed a more or less intact understory of Asian privet along the bayou. You could film scenes of jungle combat there.

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Nice article... see caption and image 9. Yes... more of this.. not concrete. And I like the boulder idea. 

Memorial Park was designed as a natural "forest playground", to be guarded from human encroachment.  

This is why park change is slow. The idea was engrained long ago, to resist civilizing it like Hermann Park. source: Memorial Park - S.Emmott. (p.27) There have been numerous proposals to alter the park. It was even considered as a possible site for the Astrodome. 

 

I was horrified to see the loss of some of the tallest, possibly oldest trees in the park after the latest hurricanes ripped through Houston. No doubt, the drought furthered the loss. But hopefully new ones have been planted. This city needs more green landscape, not less. The migratory path is a special part of Houston's identity. Abundant wildlife, especially birds are noted in many early visitor's diaries... why, then, do we pose to alter and threaten this huge wildlife attraction?

 

And, I thought we had recognized that the straightening and hard containment of the bayous and resulting escalation of water downstream was not the answer.  Surely, there is a better solution to the erosion issue.

 

Oh... and yeah, those police horses. pens and stables had been there for quite a while. I always thought they were in a strange location, so close to the freeway.  Well, they weren't, originally. The 610 behemoth cut through the wooded area. There was also a horse (exercise?) track south of the stables (GoogleEarth). 

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... one more thing...

 

"Although Buffalo Bayou is only 50 miles long, its importance in Texas history cannot be overestimated. It is the only Texas river that flows almost due east; the rest flow predominantly from north to south". 

As far back as 1840, the lower part of the bayou was called the "national highway of the republic".

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