2007 Cypress Creek Greenway Project (CCPG) Activities
The CCGP is a key focus area for the Cypress Creek Flood Control Coalition in its efforts to promote a multi-use approach to land use within the Cypress Creek watershed. This multi-use approach combines flood mitigation with preservation and recreation. Under the stewardship of a committee appointed by the Board to foster its creation and development, the CCGP proposes, advocates and coordinates the development of a continuous greenway along Cypress Creek extending from west of U.S. Highway 290 to the east where Cypress Creek joins Spring Creek. As an integral component of the multi-use design approach for the regional watershed master plan, it will include a trail system connecting a series of existing and future anchor parks threaded along the Greenway. Additional trails along the major tributaries of Cypress Creek will branch out into residential areas adjacent to the Cypress Creek corridor. In short, development of the Cypress Creek Greenway will serve to mitigate flooding, provide recreational opportunities, and preserve natural habitat across the entire Cypress Creek watershed.
While there are existing parks such as Telge, Meyer and Collins Parks along Cypress Creek, the CCGP is working to expand both the number and type of anchor parks. To do this CCGP is working with developers, HCFCD, the Parks Departments of Harris County Precincts 3 and 4, and the various MUDs bordering Cypress Creek. Progress was made in many areas during 2006.
V&W Partners Ltd. (Kickerillo and Mischer) and General Growth Properties are both developing significant acreage tracts adjacent to Cypress Creek, and CCPG has worked with both of them to encourage the preservation of areas immediately adjacent to Cypress Creek.
- V&W is developing The Vintage, a 500-acre retail and residential development north of Cypress Creek on the east side of SH 249. Through the efforts of the HP Park Alliance, of which CCFCC is an active member, V&W has agreed to set aside approximately 100 acres as the Kickerillo Mischer Preserve. Title to this acreage will be conveyed to Harris County sometime during 2007. This tract lies immediately adjacent to Cypress Creek, is largely wooded, and includes a 40-acre lake as well as approximately twenty acres in a strip along Pillot Gully. The Alliance has been working with V&W as well as Harris County Precinct 4 Parks Department on the conceptual plans for this passive recreational area and preserve. The cost to V&W of the land included in this donation exceeds $9 million. In addition, V&W has discussed the possibility of including seventy-five acres of detention pond acreage downstream adjacent to Cypress Creek in an additional, future donation.
- General Growth Properties is developing the Bridgeland, a 10,000-acre planned community adjacent to and south of Cypress Creek, west of U.S. Highway 290. In meetings with the developer, CCGP has discussed its plans and hope that the Bridgeland acreage and trails will connect to the future Cypress Creek Greenway both upstream and downstream from their development. Currently, the conceptual plans for Bridgeland include a 900-acre preserved area with trails along Cypress Creek at the northern border of their development.
CCGP is very encouraged and pleased by the preserved areas that both Bridgeland and V&W are including in their plans, and the potential that these areas add to the Cypress Creek Greenway.
Presently, activity is underway that could result in three additional anchor park sites being developed along Cypress Creek:
- Cypress Park is a 116-acre, county-owned park tract near the confluence of Cypress and Little Cypress Creeks. Currently a regional detention basin is being excavated on this tract by a private contractor through an agreement with Harris County. Upon the completion of the excavation on this tract and on an adjacent 40-acre privately owned tract, the 40-acre tract will be deeded over to the County, and the development of a passive park by Precinct 3 Parks Department on the combined 156 acres is planned. CCGP has been working with Precinct 3 Parks Department, HCFCD, and other stakeholders on the development of a conceptual park plan which includes a wet bottom detention pond (lake), trails and other amenities.
- Near Spring Gully, HCFCD has made an offer to purchase a 75-acre tract adjacent to Cypress Creek. The subject tract is bordered both upstream and downstream by currently owned HCFCD tracts. If this purchase is successful, the combined tracts will preserve a significant acreage tract which lies mostly in the floodway, and which will be suitable for passive recreational use.
- East of the Hardy Toll Road, the Timber Lane UD has plans for the development of as much as 268 acres of park along four and a half miles of Cypress Creek pending the acquisition of some key acreage tracts and their obtaining adequate funding for park development.
In addition to creating new anchor parks, CCGP continues to meet with Homeowner Associations (HOAs) and MUDs, as well as the Precinct 3 and 4 Parks Departments, to encourage them to consider undertaking the development of trails along Cypress Creek that will link the anchor parks. CCGP anticipates that the first of these links will be a trail connection between Meyer and Collins Parks undertaken by Precinct 4 Parks Department. Engineering for this trail connection is largely complete, and right-of-way acquisition is underway. If plans go according to schedule, this link could be finished by the end of the third quarter. The CCGP received a $10,000 grant from REI early in 2006, which is being applied towards amenities for the Meyer-Collins connection. In addition, CCGP participated with REI and Precinct 4 Parks in sponsoring a work day event for National Trails Day last June during which sixty volunteers completed several projects in Meyer Park. We also participated in REI Paddle Day events in May and September of last year.
During 2006 we provided a grant to North Harris Montgomery Community College which resulted in the development of a GIS-based data base to use in our efforts to identify suitable tracts for preservation and inclusion within the Cypress Creek Greenway. Having a tool to effectively use in developing an inventory of the acreage along Cypress Creek is very important to our efforts.
CCFCC’s Cypress Creek Greenway Committee continues to serve as an advocacy, communication and networking entity which is aware of activities across the watershed that have an impact on the development of the Cypress Creek Greenway. We continue to make more residents aware of our plans and are working to assist in making connections between and among the various groups who can work together to make the Cypress Creek Greenway a reality.
Securing Greenway acreage and then arranging for its development will be a time-consuming and costly endeavor. HCFCD plays an essential role in securing grant funds to offset scarce county funding. Associations and organizations that support Greenway preservation (i.e., Bayou Preservation Association, Legacy Land Trust, and The Park People) are potential partners in securing funds and partnering with Harris County Precincts 3 and 4 and local citizens’ groups (MUDs, HOAs, etc.) to make such a huge project possible. Cost estimates for land acquisition, infrastructure development, personnel, and maintenance are simply not determinable at this time, but the cost of a typical recreational park facility, which might include a pavilion, picnic areas, playground, parking lots, and comfort stations is significant. Also looming is the substantial cost of building hike-and-bike trails that will ultimately connect all of the anchor parks along the entire length of Cypress Creek.
One potential method of getting individual homeowners involved in the financial support of the Cypress Creek Greenway is through small monthly voluntary contributions collected by neighborhood MUDs on monthly water bills. This way, every family in the watershed has the opportunity to become a stakeholder in their local park system at a minimal (and voluntary) cost.