The Kingwood Service Association (KSA) Parks Committee reviewed the hurricane damage to its park facilities at its meeting Sept. 7. Damage is massive at East End Park and River Grove Park and the committee declared them both to be dangerously unsafe and closed until further notice.
Residents are urged to avoid those areas, including the parking areas just outside or alongside the roads into the parks, to allow for repairs and heavy equipment. Chairperson Chris Manthei of Bear Branch opened the meeting and said, “Our community has been devastated by the events [of the storm], but I am reassured by our first responders and our community that recovery has been quite impressive and it’s reassuring to see all the community spirit. We will recover. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that we will recover our community amenities so our residents can start relaxing a little more as soon as they are able.”
Dee Price, steward for River Grove Park, provided details about the park’s condition.
“At River Grove we have quite a bit of devastation. You have to walk in because there are trees down across the road,” Price said and noted that downed trees blocking the road begin near the end of Woodland Hills Drive and continue around the corner, through the gate and into the park. She summarized the damage by areas:
• Big trees are down throughout the park.
• The riverside boardwalk is covered with thick mud but appears structurally sound.
• The pier, boat dock and boat parking area are thickly covered with sand. Price noted that sand and dirt removal will likely be the major expense in restoring the park and making it safe.
• The soccer bridge is severely damaged and will require major repairs, maybe replacement.
• The playground area is under several feet of sand.
• The water well was flooded out. It will have to be inspected and repaired.
• The electrical boxes located at the public restrooms were flooded out.
• In addition, the river channel into the boat landing area is clogged. Dredging will be required to make it a functional boat landing area again.
Bob Rehak and Maryann Fortson described the situation at East End Park. Rehak provided a written summary of the damage throughout the entire park. He itemized the issues:
• The mud line on the trees shows the water to have been 10-15 feet deep near the lake and between 5 and 8 feet deep near the parking lot. The entire park and surrounding homes were inundated.
• Major scouring of most of the trails has exposed the ground cloth beneath them in dozens of places.
• The park entrance display case will have to be repaired or replaced. The support posts were snapped from the force of rushing water.
• The biggest problem overall is the mud deposited on all trails, benches and picnic tables.
• There is significant ponding on several of the trails.
• Walking or biking on the trails is almost impossible without slipping and sliding at great danger.
• Boardwalks are dangerous and slippery.
• Most telephone poles that define the edges of the park need to be replaced.
• Dead and rotting animals are located throughout the park, creating a stench.
• Contaminated standing water is likely to give dogs and other pets intestinal problems.
• There is a reddish-black oily substance leaking from the ground in numerous places and flowing across trails. What it is or what is causing it is unknown at this time.
All other KSA parks are in good enough condition to be used, even though there may be minor repairs needed, including inspection and possible repairs to the small bridges in the Creekwood Nature Area. Price reported that the nature area was still partly flooded at the time of the meeting but the main problem is expected to be dirt and mud on its small number of benches. Its trails should be accessible and usable as soon as the water recedes, although trails will not immediately be cleaned of silt and mud.
Following the reports, the committee reconfirmed that both East End and River Grove Parks will remain closed until further notice. It then approved a request for the KSA Board of Directors to release $200,000 from the KSA Capital Asset Reserve Funds to pay for the restoration of all KSA parks impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
In other business, the committee also approved its proposed operating budget for 2018 to cover normal and ongoing costs and planned improvements to the KSA parks and entrance landscaping. Both the requests to draw down the Capital Asset Reserves and the 2018 operating budget require approval by the KSA Board of Directors. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 21.
The next KSA Parks meeting will be Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2030 Shadow Rock Dr. The public is invited to attend.
Before you go …
… we’ve got a small favor to ask. More people are reading The Tribune than ever. Advertising revenues across the media spectrum are falling fast. And unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Tribune's independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. Support the only locally owned, locally produced news product in the Lake Houston area. And thank you!