It’s going to be a very happy holiday season for Buffalo Bayou Partnership. The nonprofit organization, which conceptualized and maintains the landmark Buffalo Bayou Park, has just received a $10 million grant from the Houston Endowment to help bring its next big act, the Buffalo Bayou East Sector, to life.
The highly anticipated East Sector is one of the biggest park projects in the United States, and once completed, it is expected to transform the waterfront and green spaces of Fifth and Second wards and the surrounding neighborhoods over the next 20 years. The BBP's master plan calls for the construction of 40 miles of hike and bike trails; 200 acres of new and refreshed park space; seven boat launches; seven new pedestrian bridges; and day trip-worthy recreational and cultural destinations, including industrial relics repurposed into gardens, adventure parks, event spaces, and perhaps even a swimming hole in Tony Marron Park. The plan is to also create bikeways and “green fingers” that will connect the neighborhoods to each other, as well as back downtown and Buffalo Bayou Park. (There will sadly not be one long continuous waterfront trail à la Buffalo Bayou Park, but, on the plus side, there could be a water taxi.)
“The grant from Houston Endowment is another exciting step forward in the creation of a more equitable city for all Houstonians,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement issued after the grant was announced. “We are grateful to both Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston Endowment not only for their inclusive vision of a better Houston, but their commitment to making it a reality.”
While the East Sector project will ultimately require hundreds of millions of dollars to fully implement over the next two decades, the $10 million grant will help fund several key efforts right away, including:
- Designing of key destinations centered around Fifth Ward, Second Ward, and Magnolia Park in the Greater East End.
- Beginning of infrastructure work to stabilize the bayou banks as well as repair existing trail links in the area.
- Land acquisition efforts for future parks and trail connections.
- Phase 1 site improvements at Japhet Creek to include trails, interpretive signage, site furnishings, and landscaping.
- Expansion of BBP’s organizational capacity, including hiring a full-time Community Engagement Manager.