Arlene Nichols, District 140 advocate, remembered
NORTHEAST – Four years after her death, friends and family of community advocate Arlene Nichols gathered to open a new 10 acre park in the Airline District, that will memoralize her work and is named for her. Airline District Executive Director Teri Koerth presided over the dedication ceremony Friday morning, which included Nichols family, Aldine High School Band, agency representatives that helped pay for the park, community leaders, and government officials.
Nichols was a tireless activist for the welfare and quality of life of those in Legislative District 140, where she was employed as an aide to State Representative Kevin Bailey.
Bailey was instrumental in setting up the legislation that formed improvement districts in Aldine and Airline, and Nichols was involved in this important work.
Community groups such as the Bellmar, Northline Terrace, and Colonial Hills Civic Clubs worked closely with her to continually improve conditions in their neighborhoods.
After her retirement and subsequent death in 2008, those that knew her in East Aldine, Greenspoint, and Airline Districts wished to remember her work by establishing a memorial such as this park.
The 10 acre site became available, and the Airline Improvement District working with the Texas Parks & Wildlife and the Harris County Community Services Department, raised $951,437 to acquire and build this park. Of that amount, TPWD funded $200,000 with a grant, US HUD contributed $626,437 through Harris County, and the Airline District contributed $125,000.
The park has been developed with two multi-use playing fields, a walking/jogging path, playground equipment, picnic areas, parking and landscaping. Design of the park was donated by McDonough Engineering Inc. and construction was by Cooley Construction, LLC.
Speaking at the dedication were AID’s Teri Koerth, Zera Presley of the Bellmar CC and AID board, Armando Walle, State Representative District #140, Roxane Eley, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Cindy Gabriel, Harris County Community Services Department, Nick Nichols, husband of Arlene, Brian Rego of Harris County Pct. 1 and the AID board. John Martin, chairman of the AID board, presented each with an appropriate memorial plaque and artwork from the park.
In her remarks regarding Arlene, Teri Koerth recalled her history:
“Arlene grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island and moved to Houston in 1968. Her inspiration for public service began in her youth where she worked as a candy striper and volunteered in Catholic Nursing Homes. She began getting involved in Public Service with the school PTA and local political campaigns. Arlene’s first public service job was for Representative Bailey at District #140 where she worked for 18 years.
“Arlene was one of the most dedicated public servants I have ever known. She worked tirelessly with the community on issues such as water and sewer, public safety and education. Arlene was instrumental in laying the foundation for this (park) project by helping to obtain one of the initial grants that was used to building this very park.
“It is with great admiration that we acknowledge her service and accomplishments. What a great honor it is to have our park named after such a wonderful role model.
“As some of you may be aware, this site was the original Carroll Elementary location where children used to learn and play. With the construction of this park, the site has come full circle and I know that Arline would be proud that once again children will play here.”