|HOUSTON – On Saturday morning, Mayor Sylvester Turner joined with the 50/50 Park Partners – Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.), Houston Parks Board (HPB), and Greater Houston Partnership – to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at Harwin Park. Located within the Alief-Westwood Complete Community, Harwin Park is one of the first neighborhood parks to complete its transformation as part of 50/50 Park Partners, an initiative created by Mayor Sylvester Turner to improve neighborhood parks with the support of the corporate community.
Photo credit: Katy Anderson, courtesy of Houston Parks Board
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“Complete Communities is about championing the voices of the residents, as is 50/50 Park Partners. I am proud that the upgrades to Harwin Park reflect the needs and desires of the Alief-Westwood community. Every neighborhood should have access to quality parks, and I thank our partners for helping to make this shared vision for Houston a reality,” said Mayor Turner.
Improvements made to Harwin Park through 50/50 Park Partners include added lighting, a new covered picnic pavilion, a new exercise station, and upgrades to the walkways within the park. The initiative, rooted in equitably investing in neighborhoods across Houston, includes listening sessions to determine park improvements in collaboration with local communities. All park improvements were selected based on input from each community addressing their desires for improvements to their local parks.
“It is important for neighborhood parks to serve the community’s needs, especially in a city as large and diverse as Houston. Our city is fortunate to have so many great park destinations and we hope all communities consider their neighborhood parks as great places to gather,” said Beth White, President and CEO of Houston Parks Board.
Community Health Choice committed $450,000 as a Visionary Park Partner of the 50/50 initiative. In addition to the financial support, Community Health Choice has also committed to additional program support through volunteer and in-kind resources.
“Our vision is a ‘Healthy Life for Every Texan’ and we believe improvements to neighborhood parks are an important factor in the health of every community,” said Vicki Keiser, Board Chair of Community Health Choice. “We are proud to be a part of Mayor Turner’s 50/50 Park Partners initiative, as it aligns with our commitment to provide innovative leadership to healthcare challenges.”
Complementing the 50/50 Park Partner improvements, construction was recently completed on a new playground featuring state-of-the-art equipment designed to promote cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development. The playground improvements are an H.P.A.R.D. Capital Improvement Project managed by the General Services Department, based on a Master Plan developed by the District F community.
“Neighborhood parks like this one in the Alief-Westwood Complete Community are the backbone of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, said Kenneth Allen, Director, Houston Parks and Recreation Department. “The upgrades made to the playground and the additional improvements to the park are a testament to what is possible for neighborhood parks across our city. We want to send a special thanks to the General Services Department and to each of our Park Partners for their work on this project.”
The heart of 50/50 Park Partners is the creation of long-term relationships for sustained impact between businesses, communities, and parks, improving the quality of life for Houstonians for decades to come. The project is supported by the City of Houston’s Resiliency Office and the Office of Complete Communities. The 50/50 Park Partners framework provides an opportunity for corporations to play a leadership role in supporting neighborhood parks and their surrounding communities, catalyzing the process of reinvigorating an under-resourced park.
“The collaboration between the City of Houston, Houston Parks Board, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Houston business leaders demonstrates the sustainable progress that can be made when our communities work together,” said Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.
Since the program’s inception, 22 neighborhood parks have been announced to receive transformative improvements as part of 50/50 Park Partners by the end of 2023. Construction is now underway on improvements to 10 of those parks, touching neighborhoods across the city. Opportunities for additional corporate support are available, both at a program and individual park level. To learn more about 50/50 Park Partners and donor opportunities, please visit Houston5050parkpartners.com.