The Butterfly Pocket Park we completed with the Greater Northside Management District won the top honor in the Projects Under $500,000 category, while the Pasadena Healthy Parks Plan with City of Pasadena Parks and Recreation received an honorable mention.
H-GAC established the Parks and Natural Areas awards program in 2006 to highlight best practices and innovative approaches to parks planning and implementation. H-GAC honors projects in the categories of Projects Over $500,000, Projects Under $500,000, Planning Process, and Policy Tools.
Butterfly Pocket Park is a testament to groups coming together to make a difference. In 2015, the vision to create a Butterfly Pocket Park started with artist Rosalinda Toro and other community organizations for an overgrown vacant lot owned by the City of Houston. The Greater Northside Management District and Avenue CDC held a series of meetings, and in 2019 Avenue CDC obtained a “Visit My Neighborhood” grant from Houston Arts Alliance to transform this site into a space residents could be proud of.
The project includes an irrigation system and landscaping, including Mexican sycamore trees donated by Trees For Houston and multiple small trees, shrubs and plants to help attract butterflies. The art enhancement includes a beautiful butterfly sculpture with a mosaic pedestal, a caterpillar mosaic replica and a short pedestal that shows the life cycle of the monarch butterflies.
“It was a true pleasure to work on this project,” said Project Manager Peter Caldwell. “The transformation of this site from an overgrown and abandoned blight into a beautiful and impactful sanctuary for both humans and butterflies is truly analogous. This small pocket park will hopefully serve as an example of the big impact a group with a focused vision can have on a community.”
The goal of the Pasadena Healthy Parks Plan was to identify investments in healthy, welcoming, accessible parks that will ensure the residents of Pasadena will thrive in outdoor spaces. AR worked with the City of Pasadena Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Parks Board, Land & Water Connections Consulting, Tecolotl, and many key stakeholders to carry out extensive and innovative community engagement and rigorous analysis of scientific data, resulting in a Healthy Parks Plan that identifies the most impactful and equitable recommendations for new parks, park improvements, park programming, and park funding and maintenance.
The plan utilized over sixty variables across four indices, including socioeconomic vulnerability, health disparities, park access, and environmental vulnerability, to guide place-based recommendations that would have the most impact on the City of Pasadena’s health, equity, and environmental goals. This data-intensive tool was paired with science-based “Healthy Park Design Guidelines” in addition to system-wide and site-based recommendations.
“This plan is perhaps one of the most exciting we’ve been a part of recently because of our ability to draw in so many of the core values of the firm as well as so many of our practice areas,” said Project Manager/Principal Katie Coyne. “Driven by principles of racial equity, health, climate, and environmental justice, a right to nature and high quality parks, and deeply connecting with community in process – this couldn’t align better with what we care most about. We can also highlight some of our most rigorous examples of GIS mapping in this project with our suitability analysis; we do a deep dive into science-based design for the Healthy Parks Design Guidelines; we ran every kind of in person (pre-COVID) engagement you can think of and then pivoted to innovative online formats – both of which brought together community and met people where they were; and, we were able to design Memorial Park in concept plan to demonstrate the culmination of our work in a high priority place. Most importantly, this plan gave specific recommendations, but also provided tools for the Parks Department to continue to make rigorous and community-informed decisions for years to come. All-in-all, this is a signature project that we were privileged to be a part of and know will impact Pasadena for years to come.”
Projects recognized by this awards program are selected by a panel of expert judges and industry professionals.
Winners will be honored during an online celebration at 9 a.m. February 5, 2021. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsfuqvrT4pHdK8RmnQPh01-XzROD0yEY98
For more information about H-GAC’s Parks and Natural Area Awards, visit http://www.h-gac.com/parks-and-natural-areas/awards.aspx