Environmental & Urban Design

Brays Oaks Landscaping Maintenance Contract up for Bid

September 25, 2017 • Continue Reading »

The Brays Oaks Management District invites your firm to submit a proposal in accordance with this Request for Proposal (RFP). Your response to this request will be evaluated to determine the qualifications of your firm. Proposals must adhere to the format and content of this RFP. Proposals will not be evaluated unless all parts requested are submitted in a complete package. The information set forth is the minimum required in order to qualify for consideration. The successful bidder shall be required to enter into a landscape maintenance agreement based on the specifications outlined in this RFP.

All proposals must be received by 12:00 (noon) on October 30, 2017.

Download Request for Proposal For Landscape Maintenance

Brays Bayou Association Flood Forum CANCELLED

September 15, 2017 • Continue Reading »

CANCELLED I have been informed that just surfacing obligations of a much higher priority have arisen and our speakers will be unable to attend the BBA Flood Forum scheduled for Tuesday September 19th. While we are disappointed we understand that going to DC to advocate on behalf of Houston for much needed recovery assistance and dealing with the ever changing political and bureaucratic scene here in Houston takes precedence. We thank Steve Costello and Russ Poppe for their desire and attempt to uphold their commitment to participate in our previously scheduled “Flood Forum,” even in the face of such a demanding situation they found themselves in due to Mr. Harvey. They have asked not to cancel, but to postpone… we will reschedule as soon as possible and hope you can be part of that event. What’s the saying… third time’s the charm!

The BBA “Special Meeting” scheduled for tomorrow night, Friday the 15th at 7:00 at The Gathering Place, 5310 South Willow Drive is still a go. The BBA is an appointed member of the Harris County Flood Control Task (an advisory board to HCFCD and Harris County Commissioner’s Court) and is a Bayou Preservation Association Bayou Watershed Representative for the Brays Watershed. We want to hear from you regarding anything that you feel is important, so we can take it back to the above mentioned entities with emphasis.

Charles Goforth
Brays Bayou Association

5 Reasons Willow Waterhole Is Worth A Visit

August 15, 2017 • Continue Reading »

When the Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve (also known as Willow Waterhole Park) became a significant component of Project Brays in 2000, the main plan for its 290 acres was to create infrastructure that allowed for flood damage reduction. In the 17 years since, it’s become so much more than that—it’s truly a haven for the Brays Oaks community and the city of Houston, and these reasons prove it.

Nature In The City

In the bustle of the city, it’s not always easy to get away from traffic, noise pollution, and concrete. Heading to the conservation reserve means finding peace and quiet in a habitat where nature flourishes in the absence of homes and businesses. Inside the park, plants, trees and ponds create homes for various wildlife, including a growing number of rare bird species.

Scenic Trails For Outside Exercise

Why hop on a treadmill to walk or run when you can get scenic overviews instead? The two-mile Westbury Lake south trail inside the park makes a great loop for long-distance runners training for their next marathon, or for leisurely walkers hoping to get some exercise in while they take in native Houston plants and birds.

Environmental Stewardship And Volunteering

Volunteering time and energy to the environment feels good, and there are ample opportunities at Willow Waterhole for volunteers of all ages. There’s no better way to meet like-minded members of the community, and to teach kids about the natural world around us. From planting trees to fishing for invasive species, there are many ways to get out and help on a regular basis.

Festivals To Celebrate Music And Art

If the natural environment alone doesn’t float your boat, music lovers can appreciate the free annual Willow Waterhole MusicFest. Each spring, Houstonians converge on the park for two days of live music from genres ranging from Zydeco to R&B and everything in between. The latest festival also included an Artist Village with over 40 participating artists, in addition to entertainers like aerialists, gymnasts and dancing stilt-walkers.

Urban Fishery

The ponds inside Willow Waterhole aren’t just for show. Last year, Texas Parks and Wildlife began stocking ponds with bluegill, largemouth bass, and catfish as part of an initiative to create an urban fishery. In partnership with Texas Fly Fishers, the goal is to create a habitat to conserve native species and provide education to the public. Plus, there’s a new spot inside the city to fish.

We’re Neighborhoods to Trails Southwest – Join Us!

August 13, 2017 • Continue Reading »

Neighborhoods to Trails Southwest is a community organization that seeks to connect the neighborhoods in Southwest Houston to the city’s extensive bayou trails system. In this video about the Keegans Bayou Trail we introduce ourselves.

My Brays Oaks: Plant it Forward Farms

August 8, 2017 • Continue Reading »

Brays Oaks District is more than just streets, buildings, and businesses; individuals working together to build community is what makes it a great place to live. In our My Brays Oaks series, we highlight the people and organizations making a difference in the community, a place we’re proud to call home. Today we feature Daniella Lewis, the Farm Stand Program Manager at Plant It Forward, a nonprofit organization that helps refugees grow urban farm businesses to provide fresh, local produce for Houston.

Tell me about Plant It Forward and your work with refugees.

We help refugees who have agricultural backgrounds become urban farmers here in Houston. Currently, we have seven independent farmers growing for our brand. This October, we’re planning to start training a new class of prospective farmers, probably 20-24 from all around the world.

So the seven farmers actually manage the farms for Plant It Forward?

Our current master farmers went through the training program several years back [and now] they are farming independently on Plant It Forward land, fulfilling farm shares, farmers markets, farm stands and wholesale orders. We have seven individuals who are making a living off the farms; we actually had nine until just recently, but we have our first alumni: Albert Lombo and Adrien Ikaba. They started their own business called Houston Gardening Market, and they have their own farm out in Tomball now. So they’re our first successful trainees that really did go out and become independent.

Are there any other cities working on similar refugee farming programs?

There is a whole network of refugee farms between many different cities nationally. But we’re unique in that our program provides a full-time occupation and a livable wage. A lot of other programs are more focused on community building and supplemental income, which is wonderful, but we’re making this an economic program. And part of that is possible because we live in a climate that’s a year-round growing season.

Why did Plant It Forward choose Brays Oaks for two major farms?

We chose it because of the partnerships. Our Fondren location is in partnership with Braeswood Assembly of God. It’s a solid three acres of farming in the middle of the city. And Westbury is a beautiful location as well. It’s seven acres in the middle of the city, and it’s in partnership with [Westbury Community Garden], Westbury Civic Club, and I know Brays Oaks Management District is very hands-on with that effort. We have two acres of the seven there; the other five are the community garden.

Your Westbury farm recently acquired a high tunnel. Can you talk about that?

It was a big accomplishment, in partnership with the USDA National Resources Conservation Service and Minority Owner Magazine. [The latter] put together workshops around the country, and they chose us for the Houston/Gulf Coast region. So we did a public barn raising (or I suppose, a high tunnel raising). They increase production at a site without chemicals or anything harsh because they create a physical barrier against the weather and insects.

Will you be using it for special projects?

We’re going to use the high tunnel for starting transplants. Instead of outsourcing that to other local businesses, we’re going to take it in-house and produce seedlings more cheaply. So we’re really thankful that we have the high tunnel at our demonstration farm at Westbury.

What’s next for Plant It Forward?

We’re developing a curriculum [for the upcoming class of farmers] currently with Joe Novak, our agriculture expert, and we’re putting together topics on business skills and some cultural points. Our own master farmers are going to come back and teach some pieces of the curriculum as well. It’s going to be a neat cycle within the organization. Our slogan is “A farm in every neighborhood.” We want it to be very normal for there to be a local farm to get fresh produce in Houston.

Mayor Turner to Announce Complete Communities Initiative

April 17, 2017 • Continue Reading »

Mayor Turner Kicks off Complete Communities Initiative

City/Private Partnerships aim to Transform Forgotten Neighborhoods

WHAT:
Mayor Sylvester Turner will announce the first round of neighborhoods selected for his Complete Communities Initiative. Complete Communities aims to transform neighborhoods that have been overlooked for the amenities enjoyed by other Houston neighborhoods. The city will work with stakeholders in the selected communities and partners across Houston to create more complete neighborhoods with access to quality affordable housing, jobs, well-maintained parks and greenspace, improved streets and sidewalks, grocery stores and other retail, good schools and transit options.
WHEN:
10:15 a.m., April 17, 2017
WHERE:
Steps of Houston City Hall (reflecting pool side), 901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002

Houston mayor addresses issues at BOMD/SWH2000 breakfast meeting

January 11, 2017 • Continue Reading »

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner fought rush hour traffic to address a joint breakfast meeting of the Brays Oaks Management District and Southwest Houston 2000 Tuesday, Jan. 10 at Houston Baptist University.
The mayor spoke about the city’s growth and diversity and talked about issues that concern all Houstonians––not just those affecting residents in the southwest sector of the city. He reiterated his commitment to repairing an estimated 40,000 potholes and said that 97 percent of those problems were fixed within one business day in 2016.

“We’re getting it done,” he said, then moved on to the concern of infrastructure repairs and better drainage to reduce flooding problems. The city has identified 22 drainage projects––two in each district––and is focusing on those first. He also talked about the city’s involvement in finding funding for Project Brays, a $480 million project to reduce flooding in the Brays Bayou watershed. While waiting for $311 million in federal funding, a loan of $130 was requested from the state, the mayor said.

In addressing public safety, Turner said that the city is currently 600 officers short and has reassigned 175 desk officers back to the street to assist in filling the gaps. He also talked about controversial changes to the city’s pension plan, which he called “a runaway finance system” that can’t be fixed overnight.

“I don’t have the power to turn water in to wine,” the mayor said, “But, we are not balancing our books on the backs of working men and women.”

The problem of Houston’s homeless population is a much more difficult one to address, he said.

“It’s easy to fill a pothole; it’s much harder to fill a hole in someone’s life,” Turner said. Simply providing housing is not the complete answer, he added, because many of these people will elect to go back to the streets. The problem is partly a financial one and partly a mental health issue. He pointed to a program that the city of San Antonio is currently using to provide shelter and services for up to 1,700 homeless people, but added that the Haven for Hope program is costing $23 million a year.

Turner stressed that the emphasis on the homeless population is not motivated by Super Bowl 51 coming to the city’s NRG Stadium in February because it can’t be fixed by then. It is an ongoing problem that requires the involvement of not only the city government, but also faith-based and charitable organizations. The mayor said that, having lived with hunger and poverty himself, he was personally not opposed to feeding the homeless, but that providing food does not address the complexities of their needs.

“We cannot be comfortable with people living on the streets and under underpasses,” Turner said.

BOMD SWH 2000 Breakfast with Mayor Turner – January 10, 2017 from ev1pro.com on Vimeo.

In addition to the mayor’s address, attendees at the breakfast meeting also heard from students of Westbury High School who are working on a project to build a pier at Willow Waterhole near their campus. They have already collected two-thirds of the $30,000 needed to build the pier, but are seeking donations of time, money, labor, and materials from the community.

Dr. Michelle Garza of Sharpstown High School also spoke about a program to register students for discount fare Metro bus passes, since transportation is an important part of school attendance, early arrival for tutoring, and the ability to stay after school for extra-curricular programs.

Flooding and Storm Surge Symposium, Jan. 18

December 20, 2016 • Continue Reading »

flooding-and-storm-surge-symposium

Houston is no stranger to the human and economic costs of severe weather. Recent floods in 2015 and 2016 caused 16 deaths and over $1 billion in damage. Additionally, the entire coastal region is particularly vulnerable to the threat of storm surge from a powerful hurricane.

In order to address these issues, Houston City Council Members David W. Robinson and Dave Martin, the AIA Houston Urban Design Committee, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Houston (ACEC) will host an event featuring two panel discussions on flooding and storm surge. Experts from academia, government and advocacy groups will shed light on these challenges and discuss possible solutions.

The event will take place on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Meeting Room 371ABDE. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the program at 6:00 p.m. Remarks by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett will be given at the beginning of the program.

This event is free and open to the public. Online registration is available until 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11. Click here to register.

Please contact atlarge2@houstontx.gov and districte@houstontx.gov if you would like to be a partner city, organization or sponsor of this event.

Park Activities Survey

October 26, 2016 • Continue Reading »

wwgc-surveyThe Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy would like you to tell them what you like about your park!

They have been working away making your park fabulous. Now they really need to know if you like it too. Go ahead, be honest. Their feelings won’t be hurt. Tell them what you think in their short, delightful survey.

Go ahead and click. Give Feedback.

Delays won’t deter Levitt Pavilion construction

July 12, 2016 • Continue Reading »

Levitt_Pavilions_at_Willow_WaterholeWhile residents of the Westbury neighborhood already enjoy the sounds of nature and birdsong in the Willow Waterhole Park, many are looking forward to the time when music will fill the nights, as well.

Plans for a Levitt Pavilion to host 50 free music concerts a year have been underway since the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy first contacted the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation in 2012. In 2013, it was announced that Houston would be the site of the eighth in a series of Levitt Pavilions that have sprung from underutilized spaces across the country.

While negotiations and paperwork have delayed fundraising and construction, Howard Sacks, President of the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Houston, remains optimistic that the ball is rolling now.

“We aren’t really able to do full fundraising until we have signed multi-party agreements,” he added. “These are in the process of going back and forth and being revised. We think that we have more of that behind us rather than in front of us and that’s encouraging.”

The construction fundraising goal is $7.5 million, Sacks said, but that phase cannot begin until the agreement is completed.

“When we have a document that the parties agree to, then it has to be approved by City Council, and I’m optimistic that can happen by fall,” he said.

“What’s also cool is that all parties seem to be intent upon the same goal, which is making Levitt Pavilion happen at the Willow Waterhole,” Sacks said.

“It’s taken literally four years––four years since July––that we learned of the opportunity,” Sacks said. “The delays really stopped mattering. It’s almost as if the people who stay the course are the ones with the potential to be rewarded. And there aren’t any shortcuts.”

While fundraising is in a holding pattern, there are already some encouraging signs to help the community envision the music venue to come, he pointed out.

“What’s extraordinary is that the Harris County Flood Control District––in their earth-moving capacity––has prepared, visually, a site for the Levitt Pavilion,” Sacks said.

wwgc-levitt-pavilion-layout“If you take a look west of South Post Oak between Willow and Gasmer, you will see quite a sight that’s already pretty indicative of what the Pavilion is going to look like––the tiered seating and the saddle that’s the midpoint of the seating,” he said. “It’s fairly easy to imagine, along the flat bank, the seating facing west, the Pavilion facing east, and the water behind it.”

Each Levitt Pavilion features open-lawn seating with no benches, high-caliber entertainment from all music genres, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment. The Houston venue is expected to accommodate 5,000 concert attendees.

The first Pavilion was launched by philanthropists Mortimer and Mimi Levitt in Westport, Conn. in 1973, followed by additional pavilions in locations such as the formerly crime-ridden MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, Calif; the brownfields of an old steel mill in Bethlehem, Pa.; and the Memphis, Tenn. park where Elvis Presley once performed; as well as in Pasadena, Calif. and Arlington, Texas. A seventh pavilion in Denver, Colo.’s Ruby Hill Park is expected to be completed by 2017.

Since opening in 2006, the Willow Waterhole Park has hosted a jazz festival and outdoor moving screenings for the Westbury community. The 280-acre park, which also serves as part of a $75 million flood control project with stormwater detention basins, is now a popular destination for picnics, birdwatching, and hiking trails.