Feb 9, 2024 - News

Sunnyside will soon get a premier park

A rendering of a new park located in Sunnyside with views of downtown Houston

The Hill at Sims will feature downtown views when completed in 2025. Photo: Courtesy of Houston Parks Board

Harris County officials announced Thursday the start of construction on Houston's newest premier park: The Hill at Sims in the heart of Sunnyside.

Why it matters: Houston has a long history of park inequity, and the city's spending on parks lags far behind the spending of comparable cities across the state and the country.

  • The city's "privileged, white residents have long enjoyed unequal access to city parks and influence over where new ones are established," according to the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

What they're saying: "Historical inequities have created today's disparities when it comes to parks, green space, flood resilience and overall quality of life for any community," Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said at a press conference Thursday. "That's especially true here in Sunnyside, where I grew up."

  • "While we still have some distance to go, we can right some wrongs along the way," Ellis said. "Today, we're celebrating something that's being done right. This is park equity in action."
An overhead shot of a detention pond in Sunnyside that will be turned into a premier park
The park is currently solely a stormwater detention basin. Photo: Courtesy of Houston Parks Board

Driving the news: Ellis and other elected officials gathered at the site Thursday to celebrate the beginning of construction.

  • The park will connect to the Sims Bayou Greenway, feature a new pedestrian bridge over the bayou, and have 4.5 miles of hike-and-bike trails.
  • The crown jewel of the park will be a pavilion atop the hill, with views of downtown more than 7 miles away.

Catch up fast: The Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner's Office has been working with the Houston Parks Board since 2019 to design and realize a 100-acre park at the site of a stormwater detention pond.

  • At the center of the project is an artificial hill placed on the site in 2005 when the Harris County Flood Control District created the pond.

By the numbers: The project gained traction after 2019, garnering a $7.5 million donation from The Brown Foundation that closed a crucial funding gap for the $28.3 million park.

  • Precinct 1 is contributing $18.8 million, while another $2 million was secured in state and federal funds by state Rep. Alma Allen and U.S. Rep. Al Green, both Democrats representing Sunnyside.

Of note: While the Hill at Sims is within Houston's city limits, the city did not provide funding for the park, and it will be managed by the Houston Parks Board.

What's next: The park is slated to be completed by the end of 2025.


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