and, Eugene Sirls
Wednesday, March 9 at 3:00 p.m.
Cities across Texas are making big investments in parks and trails–from Bayou Greenways in Houston, to the San Antonio River Improvements Project, to Austin’s Urban Trails. Multi-million dollar park and trail investments have made a positive impact on the livability and desirability of our cities, particularly along long, linear river and greenway corridors. These linear projects touch broad swaths of a city’s population, but they often expose a major challenge: how do adjacent and close-by neighborhoods connect to, and benefit from, these new parks and trails? This panel discussion will highlight efforts by local neighborhood groups to address real and perceived barriers, and connect with nearby regional park and trail amenities. These efforts provide lessons on how other communities and neighborhoods can leverage significant regional projects in their efforts to increase walking, biking, and recreational access.
Learning Objectives include:
- Identify challenges associated with linear, regional park and trail investments
- Outline strategies for connecting nearby neighborhoods with regional trails
- List best practices and lessons learned from local efforts to connect with large park and trail projects
National Park Service's Conservation Assistance Program
Justin Bates is a Community Planner with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. In this role, he helps bring the expertise and mission of the National Park Service to communities across the state of Texas. Through free, on-location facilitation and planning assistance, he partners with community groups, nonprofits, tribes, and local governments to design trails and parks, conserve and improve access to rivers, protect special places, and create recreation opportunities. Since 1987, the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program has provided assistance to over 116 conservation and recreation projects in Texas. Learn more at http://nps.gov/rtca.
Justin holds a BA in Biology from Williams College and a Master in City Planning from MIT. Before joining the National Park Service, he worked as a planner for communities in Vermont and Oregon.
Designer and Healthy Livable Community Builder
Cedric Douglas is a placed based designer and healthy livable community builder working in Houston and Austin communities to foster urban regeneration with the participation of the existing community assets. Cedric serves local groups involved with building community programs and dealing with health initiatives addressing local food security, urban mobility accessibility and using creative capital to spark community participation.
The GO Team: Strollin’ and Rollin’ vision is that Southeast Houston will continue to develop into a more active community that is supported by a network of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, with increased accessibility achieved through multiple transportation options. Residents and visitors will be linked to area destinations, such as neighborhood parks, local establishments, historic sites and art installations, with designated routes that connect to the Brays Bayou Trails, Houston Bayou Greenways and other existing trails and pathways. These facilities, supported by a vibrant biking and walking culture, will yield social, economic and environmental benefits that improve the community’s quality of life.
Neighborhoods to Trails Braeswood/Willow Waterhole
Eugene Sirls is a board member of Neighborhoods to Trails Braeswood/Willow Waterhole, a group of southwest Houston neighborhoods working to connect residents to the Brays Bayou Greenway and Willow Waterhole Park. Eugene has a 40-year career in Houston’s architecture field, working as a project architect, project manager, and director for a range of firms and organizations, including Caudill Rowlett Scott, Brooks/Collier Architects, Ray Bailey Architects, and the Harris County Hospital District. A 58-year resident of Houston, he volunteers his time with the Westbury Civic Club, Levitts Pavillion (Willow Waterhole), Workfaith Connection, and Westbury Church of Christ. Eugene loves to cook, travel, and spend time with his family.