Timeline

  • 1985: Two engineering studies funded by the Brays Bayou Association (BBA) determined a regional stormwater detention basin is required in the Brays Bayou Watershed east of Gessner. The search for a regional detention site becomes the holy grail of the BBA.
  • 1992-4: Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) determines the optimum location for a regional basin is along Brays Bayou between Chimney Rock and Stella Link, but it could not find a suitable site. 
  • 1995: The City of Houston Planning Department facilitates organizing theWestbury Area Improvement Corporation (WAIC) to revitalize the area around Westbury High School.
  • 1996: The WAIC propose a site along Willow Waterhole Bayou containing over a dozen dilapidated and obsolete buildings as well as several brownfields.  They recommend the site also serve as a park. The BBA is partially responsible for getting the U.S. Congress to authorize HCFCD to design Project Brays allowing more citizens input into the process than would the US Army Corps of Engineers.   
  • 1997: The BBA proposes implementing WAIC’s park concept as a series of lakes. The BBA and eventually HCFCD begin a series of engineering studies of the WAIC proposal.
  • 1998: The BBA presents a conceptual design of a conservation reserve on the Willow Waterhole site at a public meeting held at Johnson Middle School. The design by Kevin Shanley’s (SWA) is based on the results of one of the initial engineering studies.
  • 1998-2000: WAIC and BBA members are active on the Citizens Advisory Committee formed by HCFCD to receive input on Project Brays design.
  • 2000: Harris County Commissioners Court authorizes HCFCD to excavate the lakes at the Willow Waterhole site.  The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) receives a $750,000 grant for Willow Waterhole from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department based on the BBA’s design.
  • 2001:  The BBA sponsors a new 501(c)3 organization, the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy (WWGC), which becomes the recognized steward of the facility by both HCFCD and the City. The WWGC decides to adopt the name Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve for the facility. The WWGC, with the help of the National Parks Service, initiates a process that eventually adds 30 additional acres to the Conservation Reserve.
  • 2002-3: The HCFCD acquires 279 acres for the park.
  • 2004:  After the spring groundbreaking event, the first construction phase is completed in the fall. HCFCD completes the demolition of the dilapidated and obsolete buildings and the cleanup of all but one of the brownfields. The worst aspects of the site are replaced with trails, bridges, gazebos, picnic tables, and benches funded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife grant.
  • 2005: The WWGC holds its first annual Fun Run and Walk.
  • 2006: The Clematis Basin (bounded by S. Post Oak, Gasmer, S. Willow, and Ricecrest) is excavated. The Jack Rafferty Memorial next to Triangle Lake on Ricecrest is dedicated during the second annual Fun Run. It honors of the engineer who crafted the first flood control master plan for Houston in the late 1930s.
  • 2007:  The Houston Audubon Society begins monthly bird surveys at Willow Waterhole. Third annual Fun Run & Walk has a larger participation. WWGC conducts the first Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower planting. Houston Parks and Recreation Department selects Willow Waterhole to become one of its seven new Signature Parks bringing the total to nine.
  • 2008:  The 4th annual Fun Run is canceled due to recovery from Hurricane Ike. Wildflowers are again planted.
  • 2009:  The WWGC starts organizing periodic volunteer work days.  5th Annual Fun Run & Walk was a success.
  • 2010:  Benches and picnic tables are installed by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. Conservation Reserve is the focus of Rice Charette competition. Boy Scouts install the first kiosk. 
  • 2011: The Triangle Lake is completed by HCFCD. This includes the final remediation phase of the remaining contaminated brownfield. The inaugural Sunday Music in the Park event is held featuring the jazz band of Westbury High School and honoring HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier.
  • 2012: A federal grant around $400,000 is received to implement additional amenities including: parking, trails, signage, educational outreach, habitat restoration and plantings. Trees for Houston holds two tree planting events. The WWGC hosts music and movie events as well as a harvest moon festival. HCFCD acquired 12½ additional acres for the Conservation Reserve bringing the total to 291. Yes Prep students and Troop 99 implement the first and second phases, respectively, of the Bayou Trail Rehabilitation Project.
  • 2013: Construction is completed on Westbury Lake (south of Gasmer Road and east of Westbury High School).  The WWGC hosts the first Annual JazzFest.  The WWGC holds its first tree planting event. Third and final phase of the Bayou Trail Rehabilitation Project is completed by students from various local schools.
  • 2015: Construction is completed on Prairie Lake on the East side of South Post Oak and construction began on the final two lakes of South Willow Drive.