Local Park To Become Part of Major Flood Control Project

Keith-Wiess Park
On the city's northeast-side about a mile off the East-Tex Freeway in the Aldine area sits a park in progress, a huge 500-acre piece of land that's evolving out of the middle of a thick forest. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, Keith-Wiess Park will serve as both a recreation area dn an important part of Harris County's flood control strategy.

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Right now, it doesn't look like much, with earth movers still shaping the contours of Halls Bayou into a 300-million gallon water detention basin. Typically, the Harris County Flood Control District has to purchase land to turn into detention projects. This time, the city of Houston was the property owner. This is the Flood Control District's Heather Saucier.

"We approached the city and asked if we might be able to use a portion of it for this basin. A lot of minds got together and they started brainstorming and before we knew it there was a $2 million grant that we received from Texas Parks and Wildlife so that when the detention basin was complete we'd have incredible park amenities out here and that's exactly what's going on here today."

Keith-Weiss Park literally appears out of the forest, with just a few indications of what it will eventually be. A wooden fishing pier juts out into dirt. A wetlands boardwalk meanders through the mud. Saucier says it's a great example of what partnerships between the city and county can accomplish.

"When we build detention basins, a lot of times when they're not holding water, we're left with hundreds of acres of open space. Because open space is so rare here in Houston as we continue to sprawl, it's great when we can partner with other people like the city of Houston, like Harris County and turn these detention basins into parks during times of sunny weather."

"Every neighborhood needs a park. This neighborhood is just getting a big park."

Houston Parks Director Joe Turner.

"I think the community has deserved one a long time and I don't always say revitalized. I just say we're going to meet the needs of the neighborhood."

Turner says the partnership between the city and county makes a lot of sense and utilizes land for two important purposes.

"We work with them a lot because their property is wonderful to use unless it's flooding. Well, we're not going to be there anyway when it's flooding. This is just reversed. It's going to get the public into an amazing facility that most people don't really know exists."

The park and detention basin should be complete later this year. Construction on the basin is expected to cost around $10 million. You can see pictures of the project through a link on our website, KUHF.org.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...