HARRA On

Memorial Park Master Plan

Memorial Park Master Plan

At the HARRA Board Meeting of March 16, 2015, the Board endorsed the recently developed Master Plan which will be presented to City Council for approval in April.    The Master Plan was developed by the firm Nelson Bird Woltz under the sponsorship of the Memorial Park Conservancy, the Uptown Houston TIRZ and the Houston Parks and Recreatioin Department.

HARRA's interest in the Master Plan stems from the fact that the park is the most widely used park by the running community in the region.   A survey of area runners in November 2013 identified Memorial Park as the most used running area outside of one's own neighborhood.  

Another survey in Februay 2015 evaluated usage of Memorial Park.   774 runners answered this survey and 98% run  in Memorial Park. 45% of respondents run there more than once a week and another 34% run there more than once a month,  87% come from outside the 77007 zip code and 72% outside the seven most adjacent zip codes to the park.  The results of both surveys can be found at LINK ONE and LINK TWO.  

Given the importance of the Park to Houston running, HARRA has provided input to the planning process and reviewed the plan outcome.   We are pleased with the result

The plan proposes significant improvement of the running trails network such as rerouting of the Seymour Lieberman trail to 3 miles and safer north / south trail connectivity across Memorial Drive including a land bridge.  Other aspects include a high quality new track, an outer loop pathway for longer runs, the separation of mountain bike from running trails, and additional pathways into and out of the park.   A map of the envisioned trail network is below.  

At peak running times, parking near the trails can be challenging.  This plan does provide additional parking places distributed throughout the park.

The plan has gone into significant detail on making the park sustainable and useful for many while retaining and enhancing the wilderness feel that so many enjoy.   We believe the planning team has done this well and have put a plan together for a world class park.

We recognize this is just a plan and it may take many years for it to be implemented.  Our understanding is that funding for the plan most likely will come from a combination of tax proceeds from the Uptown Houston TIRZ district and public contributions through the Conservancy.  Our understanding is that tax proceeds in the TIRZ can only be spent within the TIRZ.  Hence the relatively recent inclusion of Memorial Park in the TIRZ has opened up additional funding and support resources to maintain and develop the park, such as the current Seymour Lieberman Trail refurbishment.     

In summary, the Houston Area Road Runners Association has input to and reviewed the proposed plan and recommends the support of the running community in its adoption and implementation over time.

You can find a lengthy presentation on the plan given to the public in March at this LINK and you can go to www.memorialparktomorrow.org for more information.