By JD Herman
Brays Oaks Management District is home to Willow Waterhole, located in the family-friendly neighborhood of Westbury. One of the major stars of Harris County Flood Control District’s $450 million Project Brays, the Willow Waterhole is more than just a flood control zone, it also provides the public with much needed usable green space thanks, in no small part, to the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy. A citizen-led effort, the group has rallied the transformation of a local detention basin into a 291-acre multi-use park in Southwest Houston. This visionary group recognized the potential for an expansive green space with recreational amenities that would serve the surrounding communities and all of Houston. The previously abandoned area now boasts itself as a series of interconnected lakes that provide detention during catastrophic flood events while also being part of broader coastal prairie restoration efforts. The organization’s success has been extraordinary, bringing a renewed sense of community to the area. The greenspace has become a popular spot for birding, picnics, and neighborhood schools and organizations host musical and athletic events at the site throughout the year. This momentum helped bring attention to Willow Waterhole and lead to the park’s selection for the nation’s next Levitt Pavilion.
The Pavilion is made possible by the Levitt Foundation, which “empowers communities to transform neglected outdoor spaces into welcoming destinations where the power of free, live music brings people together and invigorates community life.” The Houston venue is the first Levitt Foundation site also dedicated to natural resource conservation–the Willow Waterhole. Friends of Levitt Pavilion Houston Chair, Howard Sacks, believes the space will have long-lasting educational value for the local neighborhoods as well as the whole of Houston. “Levitt Pavilion Houston will introduce the greenway to large numbers of visitors from all over the city,” notes Sacks. “People will get firsthand exposure to the advantages of a dual-use greenspace.”
Once completed, the sustainably designed, state-of-the-art Levitt Pavilion Houston will present 50 free concerts annually—everything from World music to blues, country to Latin, children’s to jazz. The 40 foot by 60 foot permanent stage will face out from the water’s edge, looking upon a 3-acre lawn with the capacity to hold 5,000 visitors. Visitors will be greeted by two entry plazas at opposite ends of the pavilion, which also houses concessions and restrooms.
Friends of Levitt Pavilion Houston Chair, Howard Sacks, acknowledges it has taken a lot of time, energy, money, and good will of numerous entities to make Willow Waterhole and Levitt Pavilion Houston a reality. He credits the City of Houston, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Harris County Flood Control Department, The Levitt Foundation, as well as the Brays Oaks Management District for all coming together. “But without a doubt,” Sacks says, “Brays Oaks Management District has been outstanding from the start and we continue enjoy a one of a kind relationship with them.” This ongoing collaboration will result in “one of the most engaging attractions anywhere in Southwest Houston.”
Look for updates on the construction and project completion (currently 2022) at Brays Oaks Management District and Friends of Levitt Pavilion Houston.