When the Eastern Glades is completed in 2020, park-goers will find a large lake as part of the improved amenities.
Rich & Nancy Kinder
The land bridge across Memorial Drive as envisioned by landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz. (Courtesy photo)
Memorial Park is nearly twice the size of New York's Central Park, and is amidst an ambitious and inspiring master plan to remake one of Houston's most beloved and most used green spaces. The park is also a terrific example of a wellness resource close to home
A Houston billionaire is putting some major green behind making the city a much greener place. Energy mogul Rich Kinder and his wife Nancy are offering up a whopping $70 million to the Memorial Park Conservancy in order to improve the most important green space in Houston.
The $70 million grant will be the largest single parks gift in the history of the Bayou City. (Accepting the grant still technically must be approved by the Houston City Council in a vote next week.) Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner revealed the gift during his Wednesday press briefing.
The money will go towards fast tacking the park master plan designed by the landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, which was approved by the City Council three years ago. The master plan calls for $200 million in renovations to Memorial Park overall, including a land bridge over Memorial Drive to better connect the park’s green spaces and even an indoor swimming pool.
With the Kinders’ gift, the vision is that the master plan will be completed in the next 10 years.
For the Kinders, parks and making the nation’s fourth-largest city a greener and more livable place has long been a driving passion. The couple has donated more than $100 million to various park projects in Houston already, but the size and scope of this new gift is remarkable even for them.
“With the City Council’s approval, this historic gift will enhance a park that draws users from all over Houston, boosts the city’s entire park system and help make Houston more flood-resilient,” Turner says. “The Kinders’ past generosity to several signature Houston parks, along with this latest magnificent gesture, means their foundation is ever more a constant catalyst for health, recreation, community engagement, appreciation of nature, green space preservation and other quality-of-life factors that help make our city great.
“Let’s all applaud Kinder Foundation for its vision and commitment to making Memorial Park a treasured destination place for years to come.”
With Memorial Park almost twice the size of New York’s famed Central Park, the Kinders have long recognized the need for it be protected, maintained and improved.
Now, some record green will go a long way toward doing that.