Mandell Park to celebrate its renovation on Aug. 21

Jul. 24, 2014West University Examiner

Friends of Mandell Park invite the public to attend the park’s “renovation celebration” on Thursday, Aug. 21. Special guests will include Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Turner.

The park is located at 1501 Richmond Ave. at the corner of Mandell Street. Its renovation began in February, thanks to more than $1 million raised by the Friends group through foundations, companies, HPARD and individual donors.

The newly refurbished park will have an expanded organic community garden, known as Meredith Gardens, with handicap-accessible, raised planting beds; a state-of-the-art compost station; the Kathrine G. McGovern/John P. McGovern Foundation meadow bordered by a curving seat wall and tree-lined walkway and Skip’s Shed, a recycled shipping container converted to a garden center in honor of Friends of Mandell Park President Skip Almoney.

“The rejuvenation of Mandell Park has been a labor of love and is the culmination of efforts by many individuals and community associations who had a vision for what this neighborhood park could be,” says Almoney. “We are proud to celebrate with Mayor Parker, Mr. Turner and community members who believe that usable, urban green space is crucial to our quality of life. Mandell Park is a little oasis in the Neartown area that is here for all to enjoy.”

The 1.2-acre site of Mandell Park was not originally intended as a city park. The half commercial/half residential property was purchased by the city of Houston in the 1980s to build a library. However, when a nearby building became available for the library, the plans were scrapped, and the abandoned corner became a dumping ground and an eyesore.

Neighborhood citizens started a city-wide community organic garden, known as Meredith Gardens, on the suitable portion of the land. Through their persistence, the property was transferred to the city Parks and Recreation Department in 2004 and subsequently cleared of all debris. With no city money to make further improvements, an ever-broadening group of concerned citizens mobilized to form Friends of Mandell Park to create a park centered on the Meredith Gardens. A master plan was developed by the landscape architecture firm Asakura Robinson, which was the winner of a design competition.

The Aug. 21 renovation celebration will begin at 9 a.m. and last until 10:30 a.m. and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Lynn Kelly at 713-256-7244.