Since Pokémon GO exploded on the scene, Discovery Green has been one of the top local spots to catch 'em all, but that could change after the park's conservancy requested the game's makers to remove all "stops, lures and creatures" from the green space.
The park is run by the Discovery Green Conservancy, a nonprofit, and in the group's statement, released Thursday, they emphasize that it's "not a city park." The nonprofit says that the game and its players have "substantially increased the foot traffic in the park," which sounds like a great thing for a park, except they say it's getting in the way of the 600 yearly events the nonprofit plans. "While much of the Pokémon activity is very positive, the park has seen a significant increase in costs related to trash pickup, facility maintenance, additional overnight security, landscape and other unforeseen expenses for the park," the statement reads.
Since the park released the statement, a spate of negative, one-star reviews on Facebook has begun to tarnish what was once essentially a perfect review score. "You would think with the Super Bowl coming, they would want others, not just us fellow Houstonians, to come visit their space, but requesting poke stops to be removed is like spitting in the face of Houstonians," one commenter, Vann Hibberts, wrote. "I had never been to this park before the Pokemon go app was released, and when it finally does happen, I'm sure myself and others will never return back. Sucks that a few bad apples ruined the experience. There goes revenue that you would have had. Now the park can be 'clean' as well as empty. Way to go #majorfail."
Here's the park's statement in full:
Discovery Green Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is charged with managing Discovery Green®, which is not a city park. The Conservancy offers more than 600 events to the public each year. Thanks to park sponsors and donors, nearly all these events are offered free of charge to the public. For these events, the Conservancy’s staff carefully plans and prepares for maintenance and security needs to protect park visitors and property. For the last several weeks, Discovery Green has seen a substantial increase in foot traffic due to Pokémon GO. Without the consent of the Conservancy, Niantic, the company that created Pokémon GO, placed several poke stops, gyms and lures attracting crowds, many of which occur overnight when the park is closed. While much of the Pokémon activity is very positive, the park has seen a significant increase in costs related to trash pickup, facility maintenance, additional overnight security, landscape and other unforeseen expenses for the park. While the game has brought people together in many positive ways, Discovery Green has seen other negative impacts from the game. A large number of Pokémon GO players are not observing park hours (6 am to 11 pm). In the interest of protection of people and property, Discovery Green Conservancy has had to take additional measures to enforce park rules. Players who disobey directives to leave after hours may be subject to legal ramifications related to criminal trespass. In addition, Discovery Green has submitted a request to the creator of the Pokémon GO app to remove all stops, lures and creatures from the park. Our staff does not know how or when these will be removed and is not in direct contact with Niantic to be able to answer these questions. We hope visitors who have been introduced to Discovery Green through Pokémon GO will return to the park and experience our events and grounds as they were intended: an enriching space in the heart of Houston that serves as a village green, a source of health and happiness and a window into the arts and traditions that enrich life in Houston.