by Dorothy Puch Lillig
When they adopted their 2015-2030 Comprehensive Plan, the Spring Branch Management District embarked on a long-range plan to promote economic development and enhance quality of life in Spring Branch.
Selected projects were identified by the community through a series of public workshops and surveys. Getting concurrence on what should be done through an open, transparent process took much of 2018, said Michael Robinson of landscape architecture firm SWA Group, which the District hired to work with them on the comprehensive plan.
“Now that projects have been selected, final details are being worked out including funding and final timelines,” Robinson said.
The work won’t happen overnight. “This work will occur on public property and this requires the necessary and appropriate – and often time-consuming — approvals,” Robinson said.
So, what should you expect to see in 2019 from the District’s 15-year “blueprint for action?” Here are some things to look for:
Long Point Road
Long Point Road has historically been Spring Branch’s main commercial artery.
The District held three community meetings and conducted two surveys on the Reimagining of Long Point Road. Ninety percent of respondents to a survey said they would support testing a three-lane road configuration to see the impact on traffic volume and congestion.
A mobility pilot for that configuration should kick off in the spring or summer of 2019 and run for about 12 months. A lane in each direction will be temporarily shut down, and a center turn lane, to be used by motorists traveling in both directions, will be outlined. The District will study the effects of this change on the flow of traffic through traffic counts, surveys and community/property owner input, and then these results will be used to move forward on the overall project, Robinson said.
The pilot will involve two segments — from Conrad Sauer to west of Blalock and from Pech to Hempstead Hwy., he said.
Also in 2019 on Long Point Road, expect to see works displayed as early as April as part of a self-sustaining art exhibition. The curator of this project, Gus Kopriva, will work with local artists to create engaging public art along the road similar to the Heights Public Arts Program on Heights Blvd. Each sculpture will be displayed for nine months, but they are also for sale. A portion of the proceeds will go to the creating artist and the remainder will go back to the Spring Branch Art Program.
The works — up to seven along the roadway — will be three-dimensional sculptures large enough to be enjoyed by passing motorists.
An agreement between the city of Houston and CenterPoint Energy allows for construction of trails within CenterPoint’s easement. The District is aspiring to create a Hike-and-Bike Trail connecting the Addicks Reservoir to White Oak Bayou.
The Houston Parks Board has been selected by the SBMD board to deliver the first segments of the trail, Robinson said. Ground-breaking is proposed for November 2019. The segments are from Blalock Road east across Bingle Road towards Fiesta, he said.
This trail is part of a bigger plan involving numerous agencies and government groups hoping to connect the entire city through hike-and-bike trails. The goal is to increase the number of cyclists on trails and decrease the number of cars on Houston roadways.
SWA Group has come up with a conceptual plan for Haden Park with three parks in one: a community park, a nature park and a family park.
In early 2018, SBMD and SWA surveyed residents, business owners and other community members on how they use Haden Park. The general consensus was that most people do not currently use Haden Park but, if improvements are made, they would.
The adopted master plan is being further developed for construction, Robinson said. Preliminary design will be completed in January and then a budget and phasing strategy established. The improvements will be built in up to three phases, he said.
“The board of directors for the Spring Branch District are committed to implementing all of the Comprehensive Plan recommendations quickly as possible in the most practical and cost effective manner” said Josh Hawes, Deputy Executive Director.