Planned park upgrade is part of Morgan’s Point strategy to attract new residents

Morgan’s Point is looking to the future with a renovation project for one of its parks.

Grimes Park1415 E. Main St., is set to receive a $1.2 million makeover, and it is hoped the project will help boost the town’s population to less than 300 residents.

“When it comes to young children, the (number) has fluctuated,” said city administrator Brian Schneider. “Currently our median age is around 47 and we don’t have many children. So we wanted to give people a reason to think and consider Morgan’s Point and if they are considering living in the area it might put them above it.

The project has been designed and will go to tender, and construction is expected to begin this year.

Schneider said the hope is that once renovated, the park will be a destination for families.

“We think this park will not just be a local draw, but a regional draw for La Porte, Deer Park and Pasadena and maybe even areas outside of the nearby four or five cities,” Schneider said.

Although Morgan’s Point’s footprint is less than two square miles, Schneider said there’s still room to expand.

“We have areas where we can accommodate some houses and we can see quite a few houses (that could) be built in the city,” he said.

The project was originally intended to be a general renovation of the park, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Path to include timeline

When Grimes Park’s renovations are complete, guests can take in a history lesson while strolling.

“The most important thing (that we will have) is a historical timeline,” City Clerk Megan Mayes said.

Markers along the trail will feature information about highlights of the city’s history.

“It was really important to (Mayor Michel Bechtel) and it’s something he thought about from the start of the design phase,” Mayes said. “Morgan’s Point is rich in history, dating back to the early 1800s, and we wanted to hit some of the milestones over the years on our walking trail.”

The small community, originally known as New Washington, has played an outsized role in Texas history. It became a favorite retreat of wealthy Houstonians attracted by its cool breezes in the years before air conditioning. The town includes a number of historic homes, and a famous landmark is the mansion that once belonged to former Texas Governor Ross Sterling, which is a replica of the White House and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Green wall, new play structure to come

Designing the park was an eye-opening experience for Schneider.

“It was a learning thing for me,” he said. “I’m 45 and when I grew up a playpen was a seesaw and seesaw and that was about it. Playpens have really come a long way.

A new play structure will be accessible to all.

“The play structure has ramps where someone in a wheelchair could climb to the second level,” said Donna DuPont, city administrative assistant. “The swing also has accessible swings.”

The park will also feature lots of little touches. In a corner of the park a shaded reading area is provided with hammocks and a small library. There will be a zip line to send the kids flying through the air. Youngsters can also climb a pair of cannons inspired by the famous twin sisters from the Battle of San Jacinto.

Outside the bathrooms there will be what at first glance looks like a hedge.

“We’re going to have a green wall on the south side of the bathrooms,” Mayes said. “It’s a living wall with plants. The idea is to have it as a photo background because selfies are all the rage now.

Grimes Park is already home to an apiary installed and maintained by the Harris County Beekeepers Association. With the bees present, a pollinator garden is planned for the northeast corner of the park.

One of the attractions of the park is that it will be easily accessible.

“We already have a sidewalk system in the city and you can access Grimes Park by bike or on foot and never have to take a roadway,” Schneider said.

The park is next to the town’s community center, and this building is included in the renovation plans.

“Next to the park is our old City Hall building which was built in 1976, and the city recently renovated it into a community center,” Schneider said. “It turned out to be a fantastic project. One of the elements of the community center is a 24-foot glass door that will open into the park. There really wasn’t a good connection between the park and the center community (before and) we wanted to marry the two and bring them together.

DuPont explained this link.

“We wanted to bring the exterior into the interior and tie the two concepts together,” she said. “Our idea is that anyone who leaves the community center can have an outdoor space with tables and a pavilion and party. This expands the event space.

The community center is already equipped to service the event space. It has a commercial-grade kitchen and ample meeting space, which has been used by local entities. It is also open to residents to rent out as a party space.

Area of ​​the park to be enlarged

Grimes Park is literally going to grow a little.

“We are expanding the park from its current footprint,” Schneider said. “We have an undeveloped right of way that belongs to the city that’s on paper but there’s no road there.”

North Blackwell is a stretch of street just west of the park. There is a house on it, but the right-of-way continues north towards East Barbours Cut Blvd. The park will extend into this area.

Learning the grip came by accident.

“We thought it was a right of way for the town of La Porte and I was working with the town manager and we found out it was at Morgan’s Point and not La Porte so it was a good opportunity to expand the park when we found out it was ours,” Schneider said. “It was a nice surprise.”

John DeLapp is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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