Park-Smart Precinct One: Building community resilience

“I’ve toured Precinct One and our parks and trails by bike, car and walking it – before and after Harvey. As a result, I’ve gained a unique perspective on the importance of creating equitable access to quality parks and green space for all people and communities in Precinct One. Parks should not be considered amenities, they’re necessary. Parks connect our communities, support healthy lifestyles and provide green spaces with environmental and cultural benefits,”

“Park-Smart will bring to life opportunities and ideas that will enhance the lives of our neighbors, friends and families for years to come.”

– Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

Parks for equity, health, and resilience

Open space, parks, gardens, and trails can provide critical green infrastructure to help Precinct One improve community health and well-being, build social connections necessary for community resilience, and meet environmental challenges.

Parks and green space can benefit all residents of Precinct One by:

  • Providing a fun and safe outdoor experience;
  • Increasing community cohesion and equitable economic opportunity;
  • Providing mental and physical health benefits, including lowering stress, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease;
  • Improving local air and water quality;
  • Mitigating climate impacts, such as flooding and rising temperatures.

Precinct One

Precinct One of Harris County in southeast Texas is one of the most vibrant and ethnically diverse areas in the country. The Precinct covers over 360 square miles, an area larger than New York City. The communities which comprise Precinct 1 range in character from urban to rural, but face many of the same challenges. The devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey demonstrated the region’s vulnerability to severe storms and flooding, but also highlighted Precinct One’s community spirit and ingenuity, pointing the way toward a Precinct in which expanded parks, trails, and green space foster exceptional community resilience.

What are the goals of Park-Smart Precinct One?

Park-Smart Precinct One Plan is working to increase environmental and community health and resilience through expanding access to parks and greenways. This plan will build on the efforts of Precinct One, the City of Houston, and local groups such as Houston Parks Board, to increase access to high-quality parks and trails.

This project is:

  • Evaluating Precinct One’s current park and trail resources to identify and prioritize gaps in access, especially for vulnerable communities
  • Identifying barriers to using local parks and trails for underserved populations, and identifying key areas to enhance active transit routes
  • Convening diverse local partners, foster deep community engagement, and helping to build consensus through developing shared priorities, vision, and strategies
  • Assessing existing green infrastructure resources in Precinct One and identify high priority areas for future investments
  • Identifying ways to integrate arts and culture into parks and greenways to engage local communities and reflect their unique stories

This is a collaboration of The Trust for Public Land and Precinct One. From The Trust for Public Land, the project brings together an award-winning Planning and GIS team, an innovative Climate-Smart CitiesTM team, dedicated Parks for People staff, and the expertise of the Center for City Parks Excellence. Houston Parks Board is a partner in this effort, and Asakura Robinson, a local planning and urban design firm, is supporting community engagement and providing additional local expertise. Representatives of local agencies and community groups will participate as members of a Steering Committee. This project is being funded by Precinct 1 and by a generous grant from the Houston Endowment.

This unique project will advance equitable access to quality parks and green spaces for all Precinct One communities. The plan will create tools to improve the health and quality of life for residents, expand environmental safeguards, and help build long-term community resilience for all residents and neighborhoods in and near Precinct 1.

For more information:

William Taylor, Director, Development & Infrastructure, Precinct One

Matt Moffa, Conservation Planning Project Manager, The Trust for Public Land