Recently, the City Of Houston closed serval park clubhouses and public pools. None were "safe" and any was just as likely to get closed as the next. A group of parents from all over the Heights, as well as State Rep Jessica Farrar, all wrote letter on behalf of the wonderful Pam Foote and Proctor Park. This park is more than just a play place. It is central to life and community in the Proctor Plaza/ North Norhill neighborhood. It is also a favorite of families from all over the Heights and even outside the Heights. There is truly something special about it!
Whether our letters made an impact or not, we can't really know. What we do know is that Proctor will remain open and staffed. In celebration I am bringing back another early post from this blog, which talks about Proctor Park and it's role in the neighborhood.
Before the Proctor reboot, I do want to add that the only other Heights area parks to be effected are Love Pool, which is being closed, and Milroy Park, which will have reduced clubhouse hours. According to this Click2 Houston report, the Mayor based these decisions on usage. I am surprised, then, to see Cherryhurst in Montrose on the list. That is an amazing park that is all well attended when I get south of I10 with my own kiddos.
This little quote also baffles me:
All city-funded youth sports leagues are being eliminated, officials said. However, youth baseball will continue due to funding provided by the Houston Astros.
It's not like sports keep kids out of trouble or anything. Now we'll be spending money cleaning up mischief rather than letting kids do something productive with their summer. Makes perfect sense. Ugh. Well, I digress. Here's Proctor:
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.” Simple enough!
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 the police were often "invited" by neighbors. Parents never felt safe bringing their young children by. Prompted by concerned members of the Proctor Plaza Neighborhood Association (PPNA), the park took the hoops down and change came quickly. Seemingly overnight, it became 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, 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 offer 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. [Edit: As stated above, these programs are no longer avaiable due to budget cuts]
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 to 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 where you’ll find The Heights at play!