- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston could transfer a 755-acre park to nearby Sugar Land in an attempt to revitalize the nature area and attract more visitors.

The Houston Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1pYiekG ) reported that in the 25 years since Houston bought the land, Cullinan Park has languished. It currently has only one access road, a few picnic tables, some hiking trails and wooden walkways overlooking White Lake, where visitors can often spot alligators.

Houston, under the current talks, still would own the land but would let Sugar Land annex the site, allowing it to operate, maintain and police the park. The Cullinan Park Conservancy plans to raise $10 million to pay for the upgrades.

Plans to transfer the park in the 1990s fell through because of Sugar Land’s intentions to develop the area. It is now a natural preserve with passive use only.

Houston and Sugar Land officials hope to reach an agreement this year.

Sugar Land Mayor Jimmy Thompson said the plan would let his city advertise the area as part of its growing parks system.

“I would say that the usage people are getting is probably minimal at this point,” Thompson said. “That’s part of the conservancy’s issue: They’ve got a great tract of land, (and) they’d like to see it utilized . We obviously all want it to be successful. It’s a beautiful tract.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said the park is used more by Sugar Land residents than those who live in Houston.

“It stays a park, is still available for everybody to use, but it’s so much closer to Sugar Land,” Parker said. “It’s much easier for them to get their maintenance crews out there, get their police officers out there to monitor it and so forth.”

The park’s remote location and the need for law enforcement there have raised concerns. Last month a woman was raped inside a vehicle and a city parks employee was injured when he was attacked while trying to help.

In recent weeks, police uncovered $10 million in marijuana growing in a section of the park accessible only by boat.


Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com

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