Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Green Space to Explore in Heart of Clear Lake Area - This Land is Your Land

All the coverage about George Mitchell's passing and his creation of the Woodlands reminds me of Clear Lake City, possibly the first master planned community in Texas. Started in the early sixties, this community grew rapidly along side the Johnson Space Center to become the globally recognized "home of human spaceflight."

Although Mitchell advanced the state of the art for planned communities, mixing our need for homes, religion and open space, Clear Lake and now the Bay Area Houston are moving forward again with the creation of the new green space recreation and flood control area at the former site of a local golf course. This V-shaped park space reaches out to connect all local neighborhoods via connecting streams and right of way, forms a nucleus for a new vision of the Clear Lake Bay Area Houston.

Many planned hike and bike trails for Clear Lake area

First, everyone in the Bay Area should know the vision of the Clear Lake Water Authority is becoming a reality of 178 acres of land environmentally conserved and protected from commercial development in perpetuity. George Mitchell would no doubt be impressed, considering his leadership and success in preserving the natural environment. Sunday's Chronicle showcased Mitchell's vision in an article by the director of the Urban Institute, Houston. It said in part,
Many people in land use professions believe it may be admirable, but not really feasible, to apply smart growth development practices in the suburbs. Fortunately, George Mitchell was not one of them - not even 40 years ago, when "best practice" in outlying development typically resulted in a low-density, land-consumptive approach.
The Woodlands, conceived as an antidote to the rather slapdash building environment of its time, was truly ambitious. The fact that George Mitchell would even propose a master-planned community where one could work, shop, learn and play illustrates incredible vision. That he took the risks and persevered to make The Woodlands a reality is a testament to his determination that it was possible and desirable to create better communities.
Chronicle: Woodlands Sets Land Use Standard

The new park-space in the heart of the Clear Lake Bay Area Houston is a surprising green centerpiece bringing people from all our local communities. It will bring together local families to explore the full 178 acres of open spaces land as it is returned to a more natural state. The green will honor the work of our space explorers, energy explorers and even students exploring the frontiers of knowledge. Thousands of trees, acres of moving water, six miles of hike and bike trails, and much natural habitat for birds, butterflies and humans. It is an antidote to snarled local streets, traffic jammed freeways, standardized floor plan homes and over-subscribed life styles.

And as the map shows, there are proposed hike and bike trails coursing through the green space and connections to all points of the Clear Lake area, coming from miles away to the green connections and then on to schools (elementary, middle and high), workplaces (JSC, multiple contractors and businesses all around) and even the court house, library and Park and Ride. At the point of the green V, you can see the vision of a walkable community rising in the place of empty strip malls, vacant stores and row upon row of parking spaces without cars. It can happen! And it all starts with a vision and the will to do it, just like George Mitchell.

And it's happening now, thanks to the Clear Lake Water Authority, a new jewel is being created within minutes of you. Take a few minutes for yourself and explore this new green space that is yours. Yes, this land is yours.

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