Memorial Park makeover gets a boost with sparkling new $2.4 million running center

Oct. 10, 2014Culture Map

While elected officials and community leaders gathered in their professional best, it was the joggers and cyclists who added color to the ribbon cutting at the Memorial Park Running Trails Center. The $2.4 million facility was unveiled Friday morning in ceremonies applauded by more than 100 supporters.

The 4,400-square-foot stucco building is located on the south side of Memorial Drive at the foot of the Living Bridge, which provides a connection for joggers between the north and south sides of the busy traffic corridor. Regular hours for the center begin on Monday. The center will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on the weekend from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As Memorial Park Capital Campaign chair Mindy Hildebrand said, “When we built the bridge, people called it a bridge to nowhere. Well, today we have a bridge to somewhere and that somewhere is the running center.”

Opening of the center marks the completion of the Memorial Park Conservancy‘s $10 million campaign. Hildebrand noted that 700 donors had made the campaign possible.

State Sen. John Whitmire spoke briefly to the gathering saying, “We need events like this one this morning to celebrate something that is working as well as this.” The center was built through a partnership between the conservancy and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

Joggers and cyclists applauded the air-conditioned facility that includes lockers, showers, restrooms and even towel rentals. Nominal fees will be charged —showers 75 cents, lockers 50 cents and towel rentals for $1.

While the athletes are celebrating so is conservancy executive director Shellye Arnold who praised the facility that provides office space for the non-profit and for the police.

The program was led by parks director Joe Turner with remarks from City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen in whose district the park falls, former Mayor Bill White, City Councilman Oliver Pennington and Hildebrand.