Brown Elementary chosen as site for community SPARK Park
Brown is one of 30 Houston area schools that will receive new parks through a $5 million contribution to SPARK from the Houston Endowment and the Kinder Foundation. The City of Houston has also pledged $450,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the projects.
The announcement was made during a special ceremony at Houston City Hall on Sept. 21, where Brown students and administrators met SPARK Park officials, Mayor Sylvester Turner and members of Houston City Council.
“Our community deserves to have places where kids are able to run free and enjoy the great outdoors,” Principal LaKeisha LeBlanc said. “I envision this park bringing together families and strengthening the school/community relationship.”
LeBlanc inquired about the program during the 2015-2016 school year after noticing SPARK parks at several Houston-area campuses. “I thought that this was something that was desperately needed for our students,” she said. “At that point, I contacted the SPARK office to find out how we could become a part of this amazing program.”
After LeBlanc and district administrators met with representatives from SPARK in June, a Trust for Public Land study identified the land around the campus as a “park desert.” A park desert is defined to be an area where no parks are located in a half-mile radius or resident cannot access green space within a 10-minute walk. Based on that study, Brown Elementary was approved to become one of the first group of SPARK Parks to begin construction later this year.
“This project means so much to our community,” said Greg Ollis, Channelview ISD superintendent. “We certainly want to thank the Kinder Foundation, the Houston Endowment, the City of Houston and the SPARK Park organization for this generous gift that will be enjoyed for years to come.”
One of the first tasks for the staff and students is to decide on a theme and ideas for the look of the park. The school has partnered with IBI Group Architects to assist with the design of the park.
“Channelview as a school district and as a community is very fortunate and blessed to have been selected for this project,” said Kyle Campbell, president of the Channelview ISD Board of Trustees. “I feel this will not only add in our constant efforts to engage and connect with the community we serve, but will also allow us some new opportunities to connect as this project starts moving forward.”
Officials said the goal is to begin construction on the project no later than this summer and dedicate the park in Fall 2017.
“This park is going to truly transform the area adjacent to Harvey Brown Elementary,” Campbell said. “We as a school board are looking forward to seeing the project kick off and then in its completion seeing our children and families enjoy this great space.”