We’ve Been Busy…
Allow me an opportunity to fill you in on what’s been happening in your District J office!
Rasmus Park Improvements and Community Gathering House
Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, located at Jeanetta and Richmond, is one of the oldest African American churches in the City of Houston. Throughout its 150 years of existence, the church has been a strong anchor in the Jeanetta/Blossom Heights portion of District J. That area used to be the home of a vibrant African American farming community. A core group of volunteers from the church have taken the lead in advocating for Rasmus Park local community park.
In an effort to add improvements and upgrades to all 11 of our District J parks, I have been able to join with this community and use Council District Service Funds to initiate multiple phases of infrastructure improvements at Rasmus Park.
The first phase will include the construction of a brand new walking trail, new playground set, and improved front-of-house entry way. This construction will begin within a year’s time.
The next phase involves the construction of a community meeting house. Members of the community have recounted and recalled the existence of a small farm home originally located in the park. That farm home provided a gathering space for the neighborhood. While it is unclear when that building ceased to exist, I am pleased to announce plans to construct a new meeting house after the first phase of improvements at the park has been completed.
The new structure will be built in a familiar, classic “farmhouse” style, with architectural and design work being provided pro bono by the local offices of the global architecture firm HOK. The plans are being developed using the initial renderings provided by the Houston Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity has been a generous supporter of this project. I want to thank HOK, Habitat for Humanity, the Houston Parks and Recreation and General Services Departments, and the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church community for working to bring improvements to this historic park in District J.
First phase of improvements
Rendering of community gathering house
Friends of Anderson Park Group Created
One of my main objectives as the District J Council Member has been to create a local advocacy organization for each of the 11 parks located in our District. We recently established an organizing committee to form an advocacy organization for Anderson Park. Anderson Park is located between Beverly Hill and Schumacher Lane at Bering Drive.
The Friends of Anderson Park group consists of residents and local business owners who are keenly interested in improving this local park. This organization will play a pivotal role in working with the City of Houston and the local St. George Place TIRZ#1 Board in planning future improvements and investments in this park.
On that note, I am proud to announce that I have been able to allocate up to $50,000 for the creation of a Master Plan for Anderson Park. These dollars were taken from a combination of surplus District J office operating budget monies (approximately $30,000) and the Council District Service Fund ($20,000). This allocation will cover a portion of the cost to develop the master plan. The St. George Place TIRZ Board is considering supplementing this contribution in order to jumpstart the Master Plan process. A Master Plan is the first official step toward identifying and brainstorming feasible, community-driven improvements for the park.
The Friends of Anderson Park group will be an integral part of the Master Plan process and the redevelopment of that vital neighborhood park.
Reconvening Gulfton’s Complete Communities Neighborhood Team
The Gulfton Neighborhood Support Team was recently reconvened for a town hall meeting to discuss latest developments in the Gulfton Complete Communities program. I want to thank Shannon Buggs, Director of Complete Communities and her team for meeting with area representatives to discuss the accomplishments and challenges associated with this ongoing program.
As many of you may know, the Complete Communities program has been expanded to include the creation of a Complete Communities initiative in the Alief/Westwood portion of Districts J and F. While I am thankful for added attention to this western part of District J, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the vision of the Gulfton Neighborhood Support Team is allowed to become a reality. I am hopeful that the Gulfton Complete Communities Neighborhood Support Team will continue to advocate for the needs of this vital District J neighborhood.
Council Member Mike Laster