When the great Texas freeze in February enveloped Houston and Harris County with Minnesota-like temperatures for days on end, Kingwood’s six parks and recreational areas were all threatened with damage caused by the severe conditions and loss of power. However, at the March 4 Kingwood Association (KSA) Parks Committee meeting all six KSA park stewards were able to report their parks came through it with only minor damage to a few pipes and a pump.
“We had our first game last week and are back from the ice age. I don’t know if you saw the pictures of River Grove, but it sure looked pretty with all that snow. It was beautiful but, regarding that mobile bathroom down there (on the athletic fields), even though I went and drained every bit of it, I guess I didn’t drain all of it and a couple of pipes kept a little bit of water. We had to change out a pump and another line, so I guess they froze. Other than that, we got through it all right and we expect to have great weather for our games this weekend,” Mark Zylker, president of Kingwood Alliance Youth Soccer said.
Kevin Allums of the Kingwood Girls Baseball Association reported no damage to his organization’s facilities at the Northpark Recreation Area. However, he called attention to the messy area behind baseball Field 4 near the batting cages, apparently resulting from another league’s Field 1 synthetic turfing project, which was created before the freeze. It was not yet cleaned up, as had been promised by the end of February, apparently due to the freeze.
“We’ve got games going. Despite COVID-19, we are over 200 kids and we are about maxed out with what our fields can handle,” Allums said. He explained that the move of the outfield fence in toward the infield, that had previously been approved by KSA, will likely not happen now until after the spring season. He explained the decision to delay was based on the expectation that the Kingwood Adult Baseball Association will agree to his association’s offer to permit them to continue playing on Field 4 until their own field, the one undergoing the turf renovation, is completed. The renovation apparently has been delayed by the freeze.
Parks Chairman Chris Manthei of Bear Branch and others on the committee noted the cleanup not yet accomplished behind Field 4 is the responsibility of the adult league and was likely delayed for the same reason. The discussion highlighted concerns that the delays appear to be continuing beyond a reasonable time and beyond the time originally committed to for completion, even considering the impact of the freeze. Manthei asked Ethyl McCormick of Kingwood Association Management to follow up with the adult baseball leadership to obtain an update and a commitment to get their field renovated and the mess in the area for which they are responsible cleaned up.
In addition to the impact of the freeze on the athletic fields, there was a limited amount of damage in two facilities located in KSA’s areas of responsibility and they have been repaired.
“The freeze did cause some piping to burst at Deer Ridge Park and at Northpark and those repairs have been done. So, other than that, I don’t think we had any significant other damage due to the freeze,” Dee Price of Sand Creek said. She also reported the major renovation to the River Grove Park entrance road was completed before the weather stopped everything.
“The road was finished Feb. 8, just before the freeze hit. It took three days, and we did have to shut down the park. We set up signs and stopped people at the turn in the road so they would be able to turn around. It looks super-duper. They did a great job on it and I think it will last a long time,” Price said.
In other business, Bob Rehak of Kings Forest called attention to an unforeseen traffic hazard related to Harris County’s flood control cleanup of the Ben’s Branch drainage ditch in the Creekwood Nature Area.
“I put a drone up there a couple of days ago and they are now at the point where they are starting to excavate dirt and are using trucks in and out of there. I got a report today that there were several rogue truckers coming down Cedar Knolls through Bear Branch and Kings Forest, which was not one of the agreed upon routes to bring the trucks in,” Rehak said. He explained that it has been reported and the contractor should be checking on it.
“But people need to be aware for their kids, because they are evidently coming by Creekwood Middle School and Kingwood Montessori School and near Bear Branch Elementary School. Just be cautious,” he said.
Price announced the Bear Branch Trails Association had contacted her about pursuing a federal grant to cover the planting of trees as part of a natural resource conservation service program under the U.S., Department of Agriculture. They asked if other area associations, like KSA and other community associations, would like to join in support of the grant. Price pointed out the Trails Association will do the work to complete the application, but they explained the chances of obtaining the grant are greater if more organizations take part in supporting the effort. The members agreed and Manthei advised Price to notify the Trails Association that KSA will join in the proposal.
KSA Parks Committee meetings are normally held on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2030 Shadow Rock Drive in Kingwood. However, they will continue as scheduled using Zoom for teleconferencing until COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Houston.