Neighborhoods to Trails Southwest has been in existence since 2015 with 501(c)(3) designation as of March 29, 2017.
To be the leading advocate for urban trails, facilitating a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play in Southwest Houston.
Tag line: Facilitating a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play.
Neighborhoods to Trails SW is dedicated to advocating hike and bike trails to provide, safe, economical, and environmentally friendly transportation to and from the Brays and Keegans Bayou trail systems and destinations in Southwest Houston such as Willow Waterhole Greenspace.
2020 November 10 Construction began to connect Keegan Bayou Trail to the Braeburn Valley West neighborhood at Willow Meadow. Harris County Precinct One and a City of Houston, City Improvement Plan (CIP) funded the $166,000 concrete 1mile trail. Neighborhood to Trails advocated for the Keegan Bayou South Tributary Trail for five years. Construction completed in February, 2021. Take a look below to see the progress.
2020 July-December TIRZ-20 funded the Ruffino Hills Economic and Environmental Resilience Study T-2055 to begin July 1, 2020 and ending in six months. An engineering study of Ruffino Hills property and a stake holders survey is in the project. Sustainability research centers at Rice University and the University of Houston will participate in the study and survey to determine the appropriate use of this 130.7 acre open green space along Keegan Bayou Trail.
2020 April – October Neighborhoods to Trails members participated in multiple meetings to give input on the Brays Oaks Management District, Master Park Plan 2020. Met with Adam McGovern and Chris Chomer, EHRA consultants. Most significantly Keegan Bayou Trail was added to the list of existing trails in BOMD. It was funded in 2012, a connecting bridge installed in 2013 and a trail completed in 2016.
Future recommendations for Ruffino Hills were also added to the Park Plan. Although the majority of acreage within the District is built-out, there are still some undeveloped parcels. Ruffino Hills provides a large natural area unlike any other nearby. The location and size allow it to be a ‘bookend’ and ‘signature’ park on the west side of the District that serves as a complement to the Willow Waterhole Greenway.
The Ruffino Hills property located near W. Bellfort Street and the Sam Houston Tollway is a large 131-acre tract of undeveloped land. Formerly a waste disposal site, and recently a golf course, the property is owned by the Cities of Bellaire and West University.
2019 June 19 City of Houston, District J, City Councilman, Mike Laster, COH Council Liaison, Luci Correa, HPB Chip Place. Neighborhoods to Trails Southwest proposed to work with the Houston Parks Board in 2019 on development of a plan for completion of Mid-Brays Trails during the. next seven years.
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2019 May 23 Friends of Keegan Trail and Park gave a walking tour to Kelly Norrid, Urban Biologist of Texas Parks and Wildlife. Ecological Restoration with native plants and prairie were discussed for Keegan South Tributary.
Keegan Bayou Trail and Park has a potential for detention ponds, trails, and wildlife habitat. This natural woodland with tall pine habitat and ponds would include protections for wildlife such as Chimney Swift Towers, Bat Houses, Bluebird Houses, Wood Duck houses, Bird Blind and wild flowers. Various grants were discussed with Pat Dorsey, Skip Reeder, Eugene Sirls, and Sharon Young.
2019 April 17 Neighborhoods to Trail members presented to City of Houston, Trent Rondot, Precinct 1 Amar Mohite, Director of Planning and Infrastructure and COH Council member Castex-Tatum, District K.
2019 January 11 The widening of sidewalks on Hillcroft Bridge was discussed with Ian Hiavacek, City of Houston Supervising Engineer with Neighborhoods to Trails members Gerda Gomes, Larry Carreker, Chelsea Young, and Stephen Polnaszek.
2018 November 20 Houston Park Board staff, Chip Place, Director of Capital Programs and Lisa Graiff, Manager of Beyond the Bayous displayed maps to indicate that many NTTSW Trails overlap with Houston Park Board proposed trails. NTTSW members Gerda Gomez, Stephen Polnaszek, Pat Dorsey and Sharon Young presented on the Dual Use of Keegan Bayou Trail and Park as a detention basin and park.
2018 October 30 Met with Harris County Precinct One, William Taylor, Director of Development and Infrastructure and staff. Friends of Keegan Bayou Trail and Park members Mike Bercu, Gerda Gomez, Stephen Polnaszek, Skip Reeder and Sharon Young sought support for Keegan Bayou Trail and Park.
2018 August 29 The City of Houston Chief Resilience Officer, Stephen Costello met with Friends of Keegan Bayou Trail and Park. Our agenda was to discuss the former Ruffino Hills Golf Course as a Detention Site for Southwest Houston. Our discussion centered around a previous 450 page Environmental Study of the property. Mr. Costello gave us some next steps to advocate for the property to become a detention site. Our City of Houston District J Councilman, Mike Laster attended the meeting with Friends Mike Bercu, Pat Dorsey, Gerda Gomez, Skip Reeder and Sharon Young.
2018 October 18 During the Southwest Houston 2000 monthly meeting President, Bruce Krewinghaus presented a letter of support for Neighborhoods to Trails. Neighborhoods to Trails member, Sharon Young gave a presentation to SWHouston 2000. The presentation showed maps, photos and details of an environmental study of Ruffino Hills. At the conclusion of the study in 2007 headlines read, “Former Ruffino Hills land may get a look as park property.” Some organizations in attendance were Brays Oaks Management District, Ben Brewer, Super Neighborhood #36, Marcy Williams, International Emergency and Development Aid (IEDA), Timothy Mukule, and the future District J, Councilman, Ed Pollard.
July 2018 Friends of Keegan Bayou Trails and Park committee was established to extend advocacy to an undeveloped green space for dual purposes of detention and park facilities. Keegans Bayou Trail and Park is in the Neighborhoods to Trails Southwest focus area. These 130.9 acres are adjacent to Keegans Bayou trail system and the connecting Brays Bayou. The site is an ecologically sensitive property with hardwood, tall pines and ponds. The Park will support open space values and long-term conservation. It functions as a buffer for adjacent neighborhoods near Beltway 8. The Park is within close proximity to over 2500 single-family homes and over 500 apartment units, several schools, community centers and health clinics.
2018 May 16 Lisa Graiff, Houston Parks Board, Bayou Greenways 2020, Manager and Lisa Kaslanowitz, Outreach Coordinator presented at the NTTSW monthly meeting. The bond for Bayou Greenways 2020 passed in 2012. In 2018 the Projects will reach completion. HPB is thinking about how to move beyond, how to connect the communities into those 150 miles of connective trails and looking at other major destinations. That is basically what Beyond the Bayous is.
2017 June 16 NTTSW received a $10,000 grant from the Jacob and Teresa Hershey Foundation to assist with organizational growth and with development of trail plans for trail segments in southwest Houston. The grant has and continues to permit creation of printed materials for distributions, maintenance and enhancement of the website, and attendance and sponsoring events that further the NTTSW cause.
2017 May Houston Park Board, Beth White, President and CEO, Lisa Graiff, Bayou Greenways Manager, Chip Place, Director of Capital Programs, Lisa Kaslanowitz, Outreach Coordinator attended a tour of NTTSW Trails hosted by Richard Rodriquez, Executive Director, Brays Oaks Management District. The tour in a 5 mile area included Willow Waterhole Greenway, Kinder Shell, Hillcroft, Fondren and Keegan South Trails lead by Trail representatives Pat Dorsey, Sharon Young, Gerda Gomez, Eugene Sirls, Stephen Polnaszek and Bruce Krewinghaus.
2017 March 7 Marci Williams, Chairperson, Super Neighborhood #36 – Brays Oaks presented a letter of support to NTTSW. Members Pat Dorsey, Stephen Polnaszek, Eugene Sirls and Sharon Young gave a presentation on the location of the proposed Trails.
2016 November 18 NTTSW received a National Park Service (NPS) grant for assistance to receive assistance from the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program with direct contact and professional guidance from a community planner with NPS. Members were assisted with organizational development, public engagement, project development and fundraising. NPS provided assistance with creating maps and marketing material and NTTSW received guidance to achieve nonprofit status. The award is one of four new projects accepted by the NPS in Texas this year. The NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program helps communities design trails and parks, conserve and improve access to open space, protect special places, and create recreational opportunities through locally led partnerships.
2016 October 20 Bob Schwartz was a Charter Member of Neighborhoods to Trails. His knowledge of the area made him an invaluable advisor. He has been a voice of the community and represented Southwest Houston in many organizations and committees over the years. Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy, President, Howard Sacks conducted the Schwartz Gazebo Dedication Ceremony in Bob’s honor for his dedicated service. Many NTTSW members attended the Dedication Ceremony including Charles Goforth, Gerda Gomez, Eugene Sirls, Kate Brusegaard, Stephen Polnaszek, Mike and Sally Bercu and Cindy Chapman. Watch the Schwartz Gazebo Dedication at https://vimeo.com/190174547.
2016 April 21 Patricia King Ritter from Evelyn Park Conservancy in Bellaire presented on their goals for connecting trails.
2016 March 9 NTTSW member, Eugene Sirls, Eugene was invited by Community Planner, Justin Bates, National Park Service to participate at the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference. Connecting Neighborhoods to Regional Greenway Projects highlighted efforts by neighborhood groups to address real and perceived barriers, and connect with nearby regional park and trail amenities. These efforts provided lessons on how other communities and neighborhoods can leverage significant regional projects in their efforts to increase walking, biking, and recreational access.