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Pct. 2 opens James Driver Inclusive Park

Present at Saturday’s Ribbon Cutting for the new park were government officials, medical professionals, and community residents. In the photo above, City Councilman Robert Gallegos, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Harris County Pct. 2 Parks director Jose Jimenez, speaker Flora Fuentes, Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Memorial Hermann TIRR representative Peggy Turner, a family with a handicapped daughter, State Senator Carol Alvarado, Pct. 2 Liaison Selina Valdez, and others.

New concept to serve all persons in the County

ALDINE – A new concept in county parks was unveiled last Saturday, at the James Driver center on Bentley. Harris County Pct. 2 commissioner Adrian Garcia has made new parks and trails one of the priorities in his term in office, and this park renovation held special significance to the public and to him.

The Opening Ceremony included the MacArthur Color Guard, the Houston Brass Band, scores of officials, many persons with disabilities, and over a hundred private citizens interested in the unique features of the park. Emcee for the event was capably handled by Kaitlan Monte of Fox26 news.

In his opening remarks, Garcia explained that he had always noted the difficulties that handicapped had functioning in public, and he vowed to make a difference for them. Thus, his concept for an “all-inclusive” park with features that persons with disabilities could use successfully was formed. In developing the concept, he had help from medical experts in several fields, including the Memorial Hermann TIRR rehabilitation staff. He noted that his reason for holding office in Pct. 2, and developing facilities such as this park, was because “I came here to try to make a difference. His motto for dealing with neglected areas, such as Aldine, is to “Revive2Thrive,” with improvements in sidewalks, drainage, and parks and trails. He expects this park to lead to further economic development in the Aldine area.

Speakers at the opening included Peggy Turner of TIRR, Flora Fuentes who suffered a disability and fought her way back with Therapy, and an Aldine family whose handicapped daughter will benefit from the park.

Garcia noted that there are 500,000 persons in Harris County with some type of disability or limited mobility, and they can all access and benefit from this new park. He emphasized that all are welcome, not just limited persons.

James Driver Park will be a regional destination for persons of all ages and abilities.

Commissioner Adrian Garcia said, “We have to make sure that we recognize the fact that people, children in particular, with physical and cognitive disabilities are among the largest underrepresented minority groups in the Houston/ Harris County area, and we need to do more for them.” “This park will be addressing an entire spectrum of special needs – a space where children with disabilities can play alongside with friends and siblings, as well as their parents, caregivers, physical therapists, educators, or even physicians.”

Slides and climbing paths for children and adults, designed to be usable by persons with limited mobility.

The $7.6 million project, has already been recognized as having an important role in the county. Texas Parks and Wildlife awarded the park a $1.5 million grant to transform James Driver Park to a space for residents of all ages and abilities to exercise, socialize, and play. Located in an underserved part of Harris County, this expansion project should also help to revitalize the surrounding community and will serve as a destination to visitors of the city.

“One of the things that this park will do is provide opportunities for other children who grew up just like us. If it weren’t for these parks, we would not have a place to go hangout, to go play basketball, to come bring family members that may have special needs,” said Representative Walle, an Aldine area native.

The expansion will include an improved and widened walking trail that will accommodate people in wheelchairs, a playground specially designed for people of all abilities, both physical and cognitive, an outdoor gaming and fitness area featuring bocce, shuffleboard, chess tables, corn hole, bean bag toss and fitness equipment. It will also include a misting area and plenty of shade to providing relief from the heat, covered dining space and outdoor picnic areas, sensory garden featuring indigenous perennials, an event lawn and pavilion for musical and other entertainment, and so much more!

“This [park] will be put to good use for generations and generations to come. The kids are going to be able to feel welcome, to feel at home, to feel safe, and this is just another jewel in the cap of Precinct 2,” said State Senator Carol Alvarado.

James Driver Park is a 29-acre park and community center located in northeast Houston along US Highway 59 with plenty of premier greenspace.