On Saturday afternoon, the partners and planners of the Eastside expansion, including Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, HR&A Advisors, Huitt-Zollars, Limnotech and Utile, explained the proposed improvements coming to East Houston and locals.
The plan aims to create a connection between downtown and the eastern portion of Buffalo Bayou, create a "central hub" park by renovating Tony Marron Park, transform Japhet Creek into a natural connection with a future boathouse, develop a new "economically-inclusive neighborhood" (already named Lockwood South), transform abandoned shipyards and sites into community event spaces, add an "adventure park" with inclined gravel mounds and ropes courses, repurpose water treatment sites into water gardens, connect to the Port of Houston Turning Basin, among other improvements.
"We have some incredible partners and funders and there is no doubt in my mind that what's taking place with this master plan will connect communities together to make us stronger, more resilient and more sustainable," Mayor Sylvester Turner said during the presentation. "And quite frankly will make this a much more beautiful city."
The plan boasts improvements to the eastern portion of Buffalo Bayou, including 40 miles of new and improved trails and bikeways, 200 acres of parks and open spaces, seven new boat landings and seven new bridges connecting the north and south banks of the bayou, according to the mayor.
"It’s good to see that plans will connect the Eastside neighborhoods. We live in the Denver Harbor area and spend a lot of time in the Near Northside. We are excited all Eastside neighborhoods, including Fifth Ward, will be easily accessible," said Kim Murray, a Denver Harbor resident. "These plans allow Eastside to flourish and creates opportunities for people around the city to notice the rich history these neighborhoods offer. We also know it’s going to be good for local businesses, especially the great taco trucks in the area."
"We are most excited about the parks and greeneries, bike trails, and the prospect of more outdoor activities for our daughter and family close to home," she said.
While the plans are in the preliminary phases, city officials encouraged the residents of the East end to continue to be engaged so that the plan achieves its goals of authentic, connective, inclusive and resilient development of Buffalo Bayou East. "This is just the beginning of what we plan to do in this part of town," one presenter said. "We know you all have been really planned to death and we wanted to start activating these sites as soon as possible, so you'll be hearing more and more about the programming that will be taking place. Like I said, this is your vision, and you need to help us take this vision forward."
To check out the full details of the Buffalo Bayou East expansion, download the plan's PDF here.