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City reaches settlement with developer over Woodland Park damage

Good news.

Mayor Annise Parker, the City of Houston Legal Department and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) announced the City has recovered $300,000 to restore recent damage to Woodland Park by a private developer. Woodland Park, located at 212 Parkview, is a 19.67 acre park near White Oak Bayou in the Woodland Heights neighborhood in City Council District H. It has been a city park since 1914.

“The residents of Woodland Park were justified in their outrage over this tragic act. There is no way to be able to fully restore the vegetation and trees that grew there over so many years, however we were amenable to a settlement in this case,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “The City of Houston fought to ensure the developer would pay for the vegetation to be replanted, and hopefully it can begin to grow again without further incident. We believe this is fair and will compensate the city for the amount of work needed to restore the area.”

During the week of June 3-7, 2013, private developers constructing several townhomes on private property adjacent to the Park caused substantial damage to nearly one acre. The damage included removal of trees, vegetation, and harmful grading of soil. Although the developers promptly offered to pay the costs of restoring the Park to its original condition, there were major disagreements regarding how this should be accomplished, and what the costs would be.

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department moved promptly to determine the best approach to restore the Park. The City Legal Department partnered with HPARD to negotiate a fair settlement amount with the developers. Those joint efforts culminated with the $300,000 payment received last Friday.

“I’m pleased a compromise has been reached that creates a path towards the restoration of Woodland Park,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez, District H. “The destruction that occurred in early June was devastating and I’m looking forward to joining community members in crafting a plan of action and ensuring that all terms of the settlement are followed. I’m confident that the members of the Parks and Recreation Department are the best folks to perform the work needed at Woodland Park. I’m also very grateful to the Friends of Woodland Park for their hard work over many years and stay committed to the goal of revitalizing this hidden gem of green space in our city.”

HPARD intends to work through the Houston Parks Board to restore the Park, as much as possible, to its original condition. The project will take an estimated 6 months to complete. HPARD will meet with the community representatives, Friends of Woodland Park and Council Member Gonzalez to discuss a plan of action.

See here for the background, here for the Chron story, and here for a copy of the settlement. As part of the agreement, the city will remove the red tags on the development so it can continue. All in all, seems like a reasonable outcome. I look forward to seeing the restoration work completed. Kudos to all for getting this done. Nonsequiteuse has more, including one small suggested modification to the settlement agreement, and Swamplot has more.

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