Through the vision of the Board of Directors of Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 120, 22 acres of land adjacent to Brays Bayou was turned into beautiful McClendon Park in Southwest Houston. The five person elected Board of Directors, with the support of the Mission Bend Greenbelt Association, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Sidney McClendon family, turned an otherwise ugly but purposeful detention pond into a community dream.
“When Harris County Flood Control District began requiring detention for development of land in the District, the District had the idea of constructing a large regional detention facility that would allow developers to develop more of their land without using any for detention” said Board President Gary Gassmann. He added, “This increased property value in the District and allowed the Board to lower property taxes.” Once the development of plans for the detention facility began, the idea for the surrounding park began to take shape.
The Board approached Sidney McClendon, a land owner in the District, about purchasing land needed to make the park a reality. When the Board approached Mr. McClendon to buy the property, he talked with family members and decided to sell the property at a discount, thereby saving the District a lot of money.
Board Member Bill Hammer said, “The Mission Bend Greenbelt Organization, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing, preserving and maintaining green space in the Mission Bend area, assisted with the funding of the Park.” Mr. Hammer added, “the District applied for and received a large grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to build the Park.
The Park has now been turned over to Harris County for operation and maintenance. The Park has a large open air pavilion with 2 play structures for children as well as swings, climbing boulders and nets, picnic pavilions with grills, restroom facilities, and parking lot. A splash pad water feature in the central recreational area includes jets of water rising out a star shape. A cistern collects rain water to be reused as irrigation. Adjacent to the central area is a sand volleyball court, as well as a baseball backstop and soccer goals.
Trails lead out of the central area of the Park to 10 exercise stations. The exercise stations have posted instructions on how to use the equipment at the station as well as health and wellness information. These stations also contain natural and historical information about the area. Visitors can choose between a paved trail and a decomposed granite trail perfect for runners. A nine-hole, disc golf course runs through the Park creating yet another activity for visitors to the Park.
The Park contains a Wetlands Garden overlook, with signage providing information on how the wetland system works. There is also a boardwalk allowing visitors a close up view of the filtering wetlands, and a Xeriscape Garden with hand pump demonstrates methods for conserving water. The 1.25 acre Nature Preserve has a four foot wide path cleared so that visitors can enjoy its natural beauty. This trail leads through a pedestrian gate adjacent to Westpark Drive. It continues on to an intermediate and elementary school which allows the students easy access to the educational opportunities available within the Park.
The vision of the Board of Directors of Harris County MUD No. 120 and others has been realized in McClendon Park. Not only has it created a necessary pond for flood waters, but also a benefit for residents of the area by providing them an educational and recreational area within the District.