New park complex coming to Greenspoint

Drawing showing the 10-acres of the state’s largest skate park in Greenspoint area; construction is expected to begin by the end of this year.

HOUSTON–Construction is anticipated to begin by year end on the Spring Recreational Area, a 10-acre Greenspoint site soon to be transformed into the state’s largest skate park on one side, with a showcase facility for special needs children on the other side.

“This project will help fill a recreational void in the Greenspoint area, allowing children to play close to home” said Mayor Annise Parker following Houston City Council’s recent approval of the project. “In addition to being a draw for residents from the immediate neighborhood and all over Houston, it will entice skateboard enthusiasts from around the country.”

Capable of hosting world-class competitions and exhibitions, the skate park will be the perfect complement to downtown’s Lee and Joe Jamail Skate Park, and just the ingredient needed to turn recreational facilities into economic opportunities.

“This park will provide much needed quality of life and park infrastructure for north Houston’s large and ever-growing youth population,” said Barry Blumenthal, a downtown financial analyst.

Being built by the Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority, the park’s design is already complete, paving the way for a quick start to construction.

The facility is expected to have the grand opening in Spring 2014.

“The Spring Recreational Area is near and dear to the hearts of many in this community and throughout the region,” said Elvin Franklin, chairman of the Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors. “We thank City Council for allowing us to proceed, and we look forward to working with them.”

With 72,000 square feet of skate surface, the skate park will cater to the young and young-at-heart. The unique design includes a world-class competition-scale Texas bowl featuring a full pipe, 12-foot vert ramp, 10-foot bowl, banked walls and speed hips, plus a couple of backyard-style pools and three beginner/intermediate/advanced flow bowls. A section designed to emulate the street-skating experience will have ledges, rails, benches, banks, quarter pipes and stair obstacles, providing fun and creative challenge for skaters of all levels and interests.

A second aspect to the recreational complex, the park without limits, is generating excitement in the world of special needs youth. Called Dylan’s Park, after an area child who was severely injured and later died from child abuse, this section of the facility will have areas designed to engage children who are sight impaired, hearing impaired, autistic or wheelchair-bound. Dylan’s Park will also include open grassy areas for unstructured play, and the facility will be completely fenced.

“Families with special needs children need these kinds of parks,” said Marti Boone, director of Be An Angel, which serves special needs children throughout the region. “They promote unity and add to productive lives and healthier bodies for those that have far too little resources for outside fun.”

While a park that caters to both skaters and special needs children may seem inconsistent, Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Sally Bradford said there are numerous synergies.

“Skateboarding has been shown to have therapeutic applications for autistic children,” Bradford noted. “And the small inclines of the beginner’s skate area are perfect for wheelchairs. We could even close off the skate park for a couple of hours a week for wheelchair games, effectively making the entire facility a park without limits,” Bradford said.

The entire facility’s $5.5 million price tag also provides for walking trails and a community center. Maintenance will be handled by the Greenspoint District, which maintains other parks developed by the Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority. The District and the Authority are also working together, with other public and private sources, to create a system of trails connecting the area’s parks to Greens Bayou.

“A park with no limits, a park for skaters, a park to be connected to the bayou greenway along Greens Bayou – it is precisely these types of projects that will benefit our city’s health and urge more of our kids to get outside,” said Roksan Okan-Vick, the executive director of the Houston Parks Board. “As the City aims to complete the Bayou Greenways Initiative – an initiative that will create parks and trails along all seven of the major bayous throughout the city – a project like this is a wonderful example of how smart planning works for the benefit of our community,” Okan-Vick concluded.