Friday, April 3, 2009

Proctor Park

When we were house shopping several years ago, we did it with an eye toward raising a family. We found the perfect neighborhood for us- Proctor Plaza. There were so many things that appealed to us about the area. Knowing we would likely sacrifice green space for square footage, public areas were of particular interest. We were thrilled to find a roomy bungalow just 2 blocks from a public park. I knew that I wanted to be near a park, but I had no idea how central the park would become to my life as a stay-at-home mom of a toddler.

Proctor Park is nestled snugly in to the middle of the Proctor Plaza neighborhood, better known to many as North Norhill. The park is a full city block complete with community center and is a hub of activity for our little neighborhood, as well as a destination for families from all over the Heights. Gifted to the neighborhood in 1924, a sign near the path states the purpose: “so that the kids would have a place to play.”

Daily, from morning ‘til the sun goes down, families like mine are making the most of Proctor Park. However, neighbors say this wasn’t always the case. A large covered area, now a learning ground for new bikes and a canvas for sidewalk chalk artists, was once a basketball court. The local lore is the court attracted people from outside the neighborhood- people who didn’t care that this was a quiet subdivision beginning to blossom with young families. The players brought drinking, drugs and general bad behavior, usually leaving the trash of their habits behind. Fights broke out often and parents never felt safe bringing their young children by. Prompted by the Proctor Plaza Neighborhood Association (PPNA), the park took the hoops down and then took a turn toward the park we now know and love.

Spending a lot of time at the park and being active in my neighborhood association, I learned an interesting fact: parks in Houston get funding based on use. While this park has been highly used by families since the hoops were removed, there was no one really working on the park’s behalf.Enter Pam Foote, Proctor’s Recreation Supervisor since 2005.

Pam came to our little park after 15 years at the Mecca of Houston Parks, Memorial Park. Under Ms Pam’s watch, a Park Advisory Council, or PAC, called Friends of Proctor Park was formed. Every park in the city can have one, but Pam is certain Proctor’s is the best. The PAC does fundraising and also hosts events that get the park exposure. In the two years since the PAC was formed, the park has hosted annual events like an easter egg hunt and a fall festival. The park also hosts the neighborhood wide Heights Kids’ Group every Monday, the PPNA monthly meetings and other special events. The flurry of activity is generating results- a fresh coat of paint on the playscape and new swing seats are just the beginning of what Pam and the PAC have in store!

In addition to being a fabulous playground, the park offfer programs like a free after school program and free t-ball and soccer. For more information on any of these activities, call Pam @ 713.862.6907.

Part of what makes this park so appealing to the families from all over The Heights is the air conditioned club house and working bathrooms. As any mom will tell you, access to a restroom can make or break a day at the park! The clubhouse has a small kitchen and can be rented out for events- stipulations include 30 days notice, fee of $90/3 hours use of facilities, plus the cost hire security. Pam has even charmed a bargain out of one officer, who offers a discounted security rate for regulars at the park. Non-profits can use the facility during the week free of charge.

If you’ve never been by Proctor Park, it’s time for a visit. Play tennis, throw a ball to your dog or just relax in the grass. This is one of the most alive yet peaceful places you’ll find The Heights at Play!


  1. Great blog!

    I'm a 'hood resident in Woodland Heights and I was excited to see this post about Proctor Park. I've always wondered about the lack of hoops in the covered area.

    Speaking of the covered area, is there some sort of reservation system or fee required to use it? I noticed a roller derby team practicing there on Sunday.

    The reason I ask is that's a GREAT location for a pick-up roller hockey game. All invited, of course....

  2. I have just got to add a bit of color about the park circa 2003.

    The pavilion roof used to be home to many pigeons who, er, pooped on the court below. The tons of moms and kids who used this perfect area for tricycle riding, chalk drawing, etc. were rightfully grossed out. This was in the pretty early days of the Heights Kids group when we had about 30 or so members.

    So we started making calls (lots of calls) to the city and the papers. After looking at a lot of different solutions, the mesh “netting” that is now under the pavilion was installed. 100% improvement of the poo problem. And the Heights Kids group flexed a little mom-muscle.

    The Houston Chronicle had a lot of fun with this story as well. Here are some of the headlines we made in the “Watch ‘Em” column:

    Putrid pigeon poop plagues playground --- Sep 14, 2003
    Possible prescription for putrid pigeon poop --- Sep 17, 2003
    Pavilion pigeon poop purged --- Sep 18, 2003

  3. Keri, As far as I know there is no reservation system needed to use the outdoor areas. Just the clubhouse. However, I am just a mommy blogger so you should confirm anything with Pam at the number listed in the post before you make your plans. Thanks so much for reading our blog!!

    mwise- fabulous! thanks for the wonderful contribution!!

  4. I got a chuckle out of this. I live in Sunset Heights to Halbert Park, which is a nice enough park (but pretty hoop centric) but am moving to a home I'm buying two blocks from Proctor Plaza next month. And really looking forward to it, so hello new neighbor!