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Neighborhood questions plans for Wood Shadows II Hike and Bike Trail

Concerned Wood Shadows II resident’s and Lisa Kasianowitz, Houston Parks Board Outreach Manager (foreground) conducted the meeting and Chip Place (hand raised), Managing Director of Capital Projects for the Houston Parks Board together explained the intentions of the Parks Boards trail. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – Friday, October 26, 2018 — Members of the Houston Parks Board met with citizens of the Wood Shadows II Subdivision, where a proposed hike and bike trail is in the pre-construction stage. The trail, if completed, will be placed on the northern side of the Kinder Morgan pipeline right-of-way easement, beginning at Maxey Road, going westward approximately two or three hundred feet behind the homes along the 11600 block of Lafferty Oaks Street.

Lisa Kasianowitz, Outreach Manager (in photo foreground), conducted the meeting and Chip Place (hand raised), Managing Director of Capital Projects for the Houston Parks Board, together explained the intentions of the Parks Boards trail and answered questions of the concerned citizens present.

Kasianowitz and Place explained it as part of Bayou Greenways 2020. The Houston Parks Board is working on a new greenway segment for the Hunting Bayou Greenway, which will ultimately connect from Manitou Drive near 610, through Herman Brown Park, to Maxey Park along Maxey Road, with the trail connecting into the existing trail network in Herman Brown Park in the middle. Construction is tentatively set for spring/summer of 2019.

Citizens were concerned about an increase in walking and vehicular traffic in their neighborhood, which could then bring an increase in crime, as well as crowded street parking in front of their homes from people driving there to use the trail. Police surveillance for security to prevent thefts and break-ins of their homes, and maintenance of the trail to prevent littering issues, were raised.

Iris Jones, a nearby homeowner, said, “For 30 years we have lived peacefully in Wood Shadows II subdivision. Since Hurricane Harvey we’ve had an increase in crime in our neighborhood, making it unsafe to use our front yards, so our backyards are now our safe havens. To erect an unlit walking trail so close behind our homes is dangerous, unwise, and totally unacceptable!”

John Celestine said, “In 1976, we had disturbing noise from racing dirt bikes and other traffic on this easement behind our properties. We banded together and acquired a surface lease from Kinder Morgan, built gardens, filled in mosquito, snake, & rodent holes. We spent hours of work to block the nuisance traffic in the easement. If the bike trail is routed behind our homes, it will take us back to 1976.”

Daniel Renfrow said, “We received our garden lease 30 years ago and have a garden every year, yet the first notification we got was recently when bulldozers showed up! These actions by City of Houston will absolutely kill us! This is not some knee jerk decision by these bike trail folks, the sites were walked prior to marking the trails with paint and survey flags. Yet no one noticed how belligerent they were being with their authority. Just because the City can shove this down our throats, they need to ask if they should. I believe it is their harassment technique! At every meeting we’ve had with the City, the subject of buyout comes up. Forcing us to accept their buyout is the perfect answer. This location would be perfect to turn over to a developer to convert to apartments, town homes, and the tax base would increase 4 or 5 times more than our single family 50 year old homes bring.”

Kinder Morgan representatives present stated they’d assist the community gardeners by putting up fencing to protect the garden from the trail users.

Kasianowitz said, “The Houston Parks Board has been in communication with the Houston Police Department (HPD) about the project components and timeframe and community questions on the coming Hunting Bayou Greenway project. Safety on the Bayou Greenways is a high priority. It has been studied and proven nationally, and we have seen in our experience building greenways along multiple bayous in Houston, that thoughtful design and regular maintenance of the greenways, combined with growing community use of those greenways, are very effective in deterring crime. By practice, after each greenway is built, we continue to coordinate with HPD on any issues that warrant their attention.” She said she envisions HPD’s Bicycle Patrol to be visible on park trails.

Citizens were told through an 80-year agreement with the City of Houston, the Parks Board has the responsibility of maintenance and conservation along the Bayou Greenway System, including this trail area. They’ll keep maintenance work to a high standard, and activities along the greenways include weekly de-littering, bi-weekly mowing, quick replacement of damaged portions of trails or amenities, removal of graffiti from the trail or amenities, flood debris cleanup and staff presence on the Greenway trails on a daily basis midweek.

The construction budget for the entire segment from Manitou Drive to Maxey Road is $4,475,000.00. The Bayou Greenways 2020 effort will complete a 150-mile hike-and-bike trail network along eight of Houston’s major waterways. It is a $220 million project funded by a $100 million bond passed by Houston voters in 2012, and by $120 million in philanthropic funds and grants raised by the Houston Parks Board. The funding is applied to land acquisition, design and construction of the greenways.

Houston Parks Board is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing access to quality parks and green space in the Greater Houston region. Our mission is to create, improve, protect and advocate for parks for everyone.

Since 2012, the nonprofit has been leading the Bayou Greenways 2020 project in partnership with the City of Houston and Houston Parks and Recreation Department as well as in close coordination with the Harris County Flood Control District. To view an interactive map of the projects, visit www.houstonparksboard.org and click on “Bayou Greenways 2020.”

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