Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What’s so ‘Green’ about Discovery Green?



I poop on this park
By Omar Afra

Granted, the name for Discovery Green, Houston new ‘park’ that sits just in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, was part of a public contest and was not picked by some municipal boogie man. But, I gotta ask the question.
After hearing the non-stop hoopla about the 122 million dollar city project, I decided to check it out several days after the initial wave of inaugural attendants were left and gone. I decided to leave my cynicism behind and try to see this park as objectively as possible. Nonetheless, I called a good friend to join me on my excursion. He was not available so I called 6 more friends. Neither were they so I summoned the Sith-lord that is Alex Wukman. Our trek did not start of well. First and foremost, parking is a whopping 10 dollars. That seems rather steep for a public park. After strangling a passerby and stealing his wallet, we made our way to the underground parking lot. This is undoubtedly the 1st time I parked my vehicle underground to go to a park. Hmmm. Despite this, we carried on into the 12 acre park to be initially greeted by hordes of Kingwood children splashy-splashing their way through the glorified water hose that the city dubs ‘interactive water features’. It is basically several holes in the ground in a 50-foot by 50-foot area that spray water. No shit. Just open for 6 days, the summer-tastic smell of children’s urine and dog scheizzer was just pungent enough to penetrate the inviting smell of the 2 restaurants on site. Which brings me to my next complaint. Discovery Green hosts two places to eat that are ostensibly privately owned yet operate on public grounds. You got your choice of highbrow-overpriced-pretentious spot ‘The Grove’ or a gussied up Mickey Dees called ‘The Lake House’. Why the fuck is it called the ‘Lake House’. Me thinks it is the dirty, brown moat the city calls a ‘lake’ that is built adjacent to the eateries which hosts model boat racing rental and brave kids dipping their feet into the putrid waters. This is the kind of pond folks used to dump dookie and carcasses into a hundred years ago. (Do I sound like an asshole? I hope not because I am severely understating my case.) Anyways, the whole park is lined with children’s playgrounds surrounded by smoking parents surrounded by pooping dogs. The grass in the whole facility is poorly planted and calling it a park is a stretch in itself. I did not see a glimmer of anything that either promoted or encouraged environmental responsibility. Missing were any receptacles for attendants to consciously dispose of their trash discerningly via ‘paper’ and ‘plastic’ bins. There are few trees, no natural beauty, and the place is no very jogger, bicycler, or even walker friendly. And of course, here is the clincher, skateboards are not allowed. Way to alienate a whole shit-ton of the youth population! This place would more aptly be referred to as a ‘private yet free entertainment facility that happens to be outdoors.’ Now, of course with massive city projects always come celebrity corporation namings, endowments, and sponsorships. Make your way from the ‘Waste Management’ Gardens to the ‘Anheuser Busch Amphitheater’. Also, our dear mayor and his wife even got their own ‘promenade’!



Too bad, because all I ultimately saw in this park is a bonafied Temple of Impermanence and Poorly-used City Funds on a par with the Kemah Boardwalk. I love parks and was frankly excited at the prospect at the city having something like a Central Park of sorts. Fat chance. Well, 122 Million Bucks is a lot of money. I have this strange feeling the city could have more wisely utilized the resources. Hmm, how about the following:

1. Revamp and maintain the hundreds of smaller neighborhood parks that desperately need funds

2. Address the ever growing homelessness problem in Houston whether via expanded meal programs, housing, job training

3. Created a municipal arts endowment that funds ‘street-level’ artists to do public works

4. Start at ‘micro-credit’ bureau that gives loans to faltering mom-pop businesses in neighborhoods that are falling apart

5. At least fix that one massive-fucking pothole on Westheimer just east of Montrose in the right hand lane-heading west…

The list goes on, and on, and on, and…………..

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