Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What’s so ‘Green’ about Discovery Green?

posted by Free Press Houston @ 11:52 AM



I poop on this park
By Omar Afra

Granted, the name for Discovery Green, Houston new ‘park’ that sits just in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, was part of a public contest and was not picked by some municipal boogie man. But, I gotta ask the question.
After hearing the non-stop hoopla about the 122 million dollar city project, I decided to check it out several days after the initial wave of inaugural attendants were left and gone. I decided to leave my cynicism behind and try to see this park as objectively as possible. Nonetheless, I called a good friend to join me on my excursion. He was not available so I called 6 more friends. Neither were they so I summoned the Sith-lord that is Alex Wukman. Our trek did not start of well. First and foremost, parking is a whopping 10 dollars. That seems rather steep for a public park. After strangling a passerby and stealing his wallet, we made our way to the underground parking lot. This is undoubtedly the 1st time I parked my vehicle underground to go to a park. Hmmm. Despite this, we carried on into the 12 acre park to be initially greeted by hordes of Kingwood children splashy-splashing their way through the glorified water hose that the city dubs ‘interactive water features’. It is basically several holes in the ground in a 50-foot by 50-foot area that spray water. No shit. Just open for 6 days, the summer-tastic smell of children’s urine and dog scheizzer was just pungent enough to penetrate the inviting smell of the 2 restaurants on site. Which brings me to my next complaint. Discovery Green hosts two places to eat that are ostensibly privately owned yet operate on public grounds. You got your choice of highbrow-overpriced-pretentious spot ‘The Grove’ or a gussied up Mickey Dees called ‘The Lake House’. Why the fuck is it called the ‘Lake House’. Me thinks it is the dirty, brown moat the city calls a ‘lake’ that is built adjacent to the eateries which hosts model boat racing rental and brave kids dipping their feet into the putrid waters. This is the kind of pond folks used to dump dookie and carcasses into a hundred years ago. (Do I sound like an asshole? I hope not because I am severely understating my case.) Anyways, the whole park is lined with children’s playgrounds surrounded by smoking parents surrounded by pooping dogs. The grass in the whole facility is poorly planted and calling it a park is a stretch in itself. I did not see a glimmer of anything that either promoted or encouraged environmental responsibility. Missing were any receptacles for attendants to consciously dispose of their trash discerningly via ‘paper’ and ‘plastic’ bins. There are few trees, no natural beauty, and the place is no very jogger, bicycler, or even walker friendly. And of course, here is the clincher, skateboards are not allowed. Way to alienate a whole shit-ton of the youth population! This place would more aptly be referred to as a ‘private yet free entertainment facility that happens to be outdoors.’ This park belongs in Dallas. Now, of course with massive city projects always come celebrity corporation namings, endowments, and sponsorships. Make your way from the ‘Waste Management’ Gardens to the ‘Anheuser Busch Amphitheater’. Also, our dear mayor and his wife even got their own ‘promenade’!
Too bad, because all I ultimately saw in this park is a bonafied Temple of Impermanence and Poorly-used City Funds on a par with the Kemah Boardwalk. I love parks and was frankly excited at the prospect at the city having something like a Central Park of sorts. Fat chance. Well, 122 Million Bucks is a lot of money. I have this strange feeling the city could have more wisely utilized the resources. Hmm, how about the following:

1. Revamp and maintain the hundreds of smaller neighborhood parks that desperately need funds

2. Address the ever growing homelessness problem in Houston whether via expanded meal programs, housing, job training

3. Created a municipal arts endowment that funds ‘street-level’ artists to do public works

4. Start at ‘micro-credit’ bureau that gives loans to faltering mom-pop businesses in neighborhoods that are falling apart

5. At least fix that one massive-fucking pothole on Westheimer just east of Montrose in the right hand lane-heading west…

The list goes on, and on, and on, and…………..

12 Comments:

At May 6, 2008 at 3:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no idea where you got the idea Discovery Green might be anything like Central Park. I too would have been very disappointed expecting an 800+ acre park on a 12 acre location. Maybe you should go back and read some of the literature about the park and compare it to Bryant Park, which is what the City was going for.

 
At May 7, 2008 at 8:46 AM , Anonymous omar said...

I have been to Bryant park,played there, frolicked there and this, sir, is no Bryant Park either.

KHOU and other news media likened the park to a 'central park'. There was much more than acreage to be disappointed about...

 
At May 8, 2008 at 9:11 AM , Blogger USA1 said...

$10 to park?! Freaking ridiculous.

 
At May 12, 2008 at 4:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging from weekends I've spent at the park since it opened, plenty of Houstonians disagree with you. It's fairly consistently packed on weekends, and I've heard during the week isn't bad either. Maybe now with the opening of Discovery Green, Houstonians will begin to value public space and get the feeling there is something to this whole urban thing. Houston can become a destination city and this is a step in the right direction. Too bad you can't see that.

 
At May 13, 2008 at 11:44 AM , Anonymous omar said...

Strange that you won't use your name while you regurgitate the city press releases..

 
At May 13, 2008 at 1:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

considering you haven't actually read any of the city press releases I find it interesting you write in a newspaper. Most of the money for the park was donated by 4 private foundations.
http://www.discoverygreen.com/en/cms/?227
From what I remember most of the city's contribution was the property.

 
At May 13, 2008 at 10:00 PM , Anonymous omar said...

oh I have read the shitty little press releases. it's really cute how you so strongly defend the city..why such a motivation anony-mouse? bottom line: this park is a monumental mis-use of city and public funds. yes, non-profit donations are essentially public funds once they enter the 501c3 orld. ya see, anony-mouse, these funds could just the same be used for other ailing parks...borrow some courage somewhere and use a name..

 
At May 14, 2008 at 1:08 PM , Anonymous james said...

122 million bux for that place?

 
At May 15, 2008 at 6:48 AM , Blogger Derek Shumate said...

Damn, glad you wrote this. I had a similar experience. I spent 15 minutes dodging traffic and one-ways to get there and left after one lap around the place. I had this hard/mean look on my face because i was not expecting anything i saw. in fact, i was expecting the complete opposite. My biggest complaint is that I can't walk anywhere without some douche bag being swooned by my dog. every kid, teenager, adult and senior would light up, make chipmunk sounds and want to play with him. I JUST WANT TO WALK MY FUCKING DOG AND GIVE HIM SOME EXERCISE LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!! IT'S LIKE PEOPLE HAVE NEVER SEEN A FUCKING DOG BEFORE!

ANyway, reason why I didn't blog about it is because I realized it's just a ploy to drag more people out of their suburban homes to spend more money and gas. same reason why all the sports venues are there now.
MIND CONTROLLLLLLLLLL

If you read their site you can find cheaper (if not free) parking spots. Also, street parking is free and there's always metered spots too. And I hate to say it, but most parks are for people in the surrounding areas and not meant to be driven to from 45 minutes out of town. For example, when I lived in NYC I rarely visited Central Park since it would take me ages to get there and not to mention $$. I would walk outside down to Prospect Park in my neighborhood. Parks are suppose to be enjoyable places to relax or have fun, right? So who wants to commute to a park? That being said I think this might work well for people who live downtown. If you don't, Try Allen PKKWY, Menil, Galleria, Etc...

Those fountain things worry me. It's obviously recycled water. Maybe by interactive they mean you catch and fight diseases. JAJAJAJA

The restaurant thing doesn't surprise me. I bet the prices were hefty too. Public/Private partnerships are the norm now. That's how the prison system operates and if you want to do something about it that's probably where you'll end up. I believe their reasoning is that it helps pay for the 'public' park.

As far as the pond, how bout we just go take samples and test it? Sounds like fun...
They call it the Lake House because they want you to feel rich and important, DUH!

Even though I don't think there should be stuff promoting environmental responsibility (WTF park has this? Parks in Germany?) I do agree that there's way too little grass and way too much concrete, man-made foliage and play things. The 'Dog Park' alone is a disgrace. Only plan on using it if you have a small dog and love to interact and socialize with complete strangers in a play-pen smaller than my turtles' habitat and reminiscent of my pre-school playground.

The no skaters rule IS pretty lame but I'd shut up on this one because we're lucky the city allowed the new ultra-clutch concrete skate park less than 10 minutes away!!

"Make your way from the ‘Waste Management’ Gardens to the ‘Anheuser Busch Amphitheater’. Also, our dear mayor and his wife even got their own ‘promenade’!" - ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!?!?! I missed this...

"1. Revamp and maintain the hundreds of smaller neighborhood parks that desperately need funds" AGREE 100% Like I said, local parks work, big ones like this where no one lives, DON'T.

Expanding homeless support might bring in more of the same. Didn't you see that South Park episode duuude?

"3. Created a municipal arts endowment that funds ‘street-level’ artists to do public works " THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AS LONG AS GRAFFITI WRITERS ARE CONSIDERED FELONS, and I fucking said that to Sue Lovell's fat face!!!

"4. Start at ‘micro-credit’ bureau that gives loans to faltering mom-pop businesses in neighborhoods that are falling apart" - Unfortunately this is due to the rising cost of living, dwindling economy and ever-expansion of houston making it impossible to attend most events.

"5. At least fix that one massive-fucking pothole on Westheimer just east of Montrose in the right hand lane-heading west…" JUST CALL 311 AND COMPLAIN - And for those who whine about Ron Paul's dream of eliminating the IRS thinking we won't be able to pay for shit like this - i fucking told you so. your tax money doesn't go towards helping your community. it goes towards DESTROYING communities around the globe- I REST MY CASE

"I have no idea where you got the idea Discovery Green might be anything like Central Park" - Ummm... Because of all the money spent, the location and parks they based their studies off of...
i too, expected more.


"Judging from weekends I've spent at the park since it opened, plenty of Houstonians disagree with you. It's fairly consistently packed on weekends, and I've heard during the week isn't bad either. Maybe now with the opening of Discovery Green, Houstonians will begin to value public space and get the feeling there is something to this whole urban thing. Houston can become a destination city and this is a step in the right direction. Too bad you can't see that."
-YOU'RE A FUCKING IDIOT - DROP THE ANONYMITY SO WE KNOW WHO TO BOX UP AND SHIP TO DISNEY WORLD!!
It's packed because the mainstream media promoted the shit out of this place. You could tell them to drink mercury and they probably would do it. "something to this whole urban thing"? You're obviously one of the targeted suburbians they were hoping to reel in. Wow, I could go on and on. TOO BAD YOU'RE BRAINWASHED AND KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HISTORY. Otherwise I'd continue with an intellectual smack-down.

"Most of the money for the park was donated by 4 private foundations." - SO ARE MANY OTHER ATROCITIES, LIKE THE WEST-PARK TOLLWAY. WHAT'S YOUR POINT??

"monumental mis-use of city and public funds" - COULDN'T AGREE MORE.

iF ANONYMOOSE is correct and the city donated the land, then how the fuck was that much money spent?

This doesn't surprise me though. Houston was horribly designed from the very begining and continues on the same path. Ripping up rails along I-10 -- laying down shitty ones like the light rail (designed to fail) etc...

 
At May 15, 2008 at 5:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

econ101:
when you have an asset, say 12 acres in downtown Houston, valued at $X and you use that asset to build a park, you "spend" the value of the asset without spend a dime in cash.

 
At May 16, 2008 at 10:41 AM , Anonymous keanon said...

I have to really disagree with the recent article concerning DG park. There are many green aspects to DG park. Most are listed on the website and some are also listed in the DG guidebook that can be found around town next to other free pubs/mags/papers. The trees along The Brown Foundation Promenade are reclaimed and would have been cut down otherwise. Also both restaurants follow strict green guidelines. The cups, spoons/knifes etc, and the take out containers are all biodegradable. I also believe they both do composting. I've been to the park three times since it opened and I've never smelled any bad odors from the dog poo. But I'm sure the water feature probably did smell cuz kids are messy sometimes and so are adults who don't clean up after their animals when in public. But that's a given. Also as a young low income black man from 3rd Ward, I've seen tons of people of every class and color at the park. I think the park is very nice to look at and I also find it very exercise/walker friendly. The park is already impressing people from out of town who may bring more jobs to Houston. So it's a complex issue. Of course this is mostly a playground for the rich. I'm sure most people realized that pretty quickly. I'm not sure why both restaurants being privately owned and being on public land is such a problem. Concerning the putrid lake and the corporate naming of gardens and such. That I can understand but I think we have to give the lake a chance. I think once the plants mature it will improve also I think they are going to add fish. I really hate having to look at and even say in my head some of the features that are named after people or companies but I think most people don't pay attention to that and over time no one will. As far as parking goes, you don't have to park downtown at DG park's garage. You could have parked farther away and then taken the light rail and then walked. Also there's a feature in place in the garage which would be used in order to combat flooding. Although why anyone would park down there if it's pouring heavily and theres a flood warning is beyond me. Concerning why skate boarders aren't allowed again it's a Catch 22. It's sucks and it's snobbish but this is more of a family/tourist park. But that's OK cuz the Jamail Skatepark is opening to the public Sunday June 1. At 30,000 square feet the facility is the 1st world-class, in ground skatepark in our region. 002 magazine has a short article on the skatepark and for more info on opening celebrations visit houstonparksboard.org. Don't get me wrong I actually enjoyed the article on Discovery Green park. It made me laugh and it made me think. Two things Free Press Houston always does well. I just wish the writer would have done more research and criticized the facts. The article seemed more like a hateful rant than an informative news/opinion piece.

 
At May 18, 2008 at 1:45 AM , Blogger delia said...

Until recently, sending a press release was both time consuming and expensive. You had to purchase a media database that cost thousands of dollars, or hire a distribution service to send your release to the media for hundreds of dollars each time.
This meant that the sheer cost and effort involved in sending any sort of announcement about your company to the media became very expensive. but that's all is worthwhile.

__________________________
delia

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