Friends of Mandell Park’s Skip Almoney
1. How long have you lived in Montrose?
2. What is the biggest change to the neighborhood, in your opinion, in that time?
I guess the biggest change is that the neighborhood has improved. A lot of the single family homes have been redone and kept the character of the neighborhood. And I think it’s safer. Lower Westheimer in particular feels a lot safer, and looks a lot cleaner than it was 30 or 40 years ago.
3. What’s your favorite thing about living in Montrose?
Walkability, the large number of excellent restaurants, and a lot of civic support. When we first moved into Castle Court, we didn’t have a neighborhood association. We got started in the early 90s because Houston Cellular was going to put a cell tower in the middle of the block, and we protested. They ended up moving their cell tower to the top of the fire station, and there are now two very nice townhouses sitting on that lot. [Now] almost any area in [Montrose] has a neighborhood association of some kind. And politically this is a very active area. I mean, our mayor is from this area, and several city councilmen.
4. Did you get involved with Mandell Park because you were involved with Castle Court?
Yes, there’s a long history behind that. The neighborhood association developed the beautification committee. That particular property was a mess; the front half was broken down foundations, and the back half had almost been abandoned by the city. When we cleaned it up we got rid of old furniture, broken needles, stuff like that. Then we started community gardens, and over the years those gardens developed into their own little park. At some point, we decided we would like to do something with it, so we formed Friends of Mandell Park. I had been President of the Castle Court Neighborhood Association, and Lynn Kelly and I kind of decided to form [the group] to see if we can raise some money and do some improvements. Our plans are all done, and we’ve raised over a million dollars. We’ve received bids, and right now we are negotiating the pricing. We’re hoping to start in the first quarter of 2014.
5. What are some of your favorite improvements that Mandell Park will have?
We’re going to have a wonderful seat wall on the front half [of the park]. The area will be sculpted somewhat with some higher areas where we can put a band.
We’ll have lighting throughout the park along pathways.
Between Richmond and the park we will have a tree allee. The tree allee will be very pleasant to walk through and will have benches, and give us a buffer between Richmond and the park to keep it quiet.
We’ll have a full irrigation system so we won’t have to worry so much about the plants dying. Our expectation is that under normal rainfall is that all the water that falls in the park will remain in the park. We’ll have bioswales that will be able to hold the water and retain it for longer.
See more here on the Friends of Mandell Park website: http://www.friendsofmandellpark.org/masterplan.html
6. What’s your other favorite green space in Montrose?
My other favorite is Bell Park. In fact, the [Montrose] District just gave money to Bell Park to do a lot of new plantings. I like that because it’s very quiet, has lots of big trees, and now that they’ve done the new plantings it really looks nice. I spend so much time at my park that I really don’t have a lot of time to visit the other ones.
More and more people are recognizing that green space is important, and we worked very hard to keep [Mandell Park] a green space.
Want to learn more about the improvements to Mandell Park and the Friends of Mandell Park? Check out their website: www.friendsofmandellpark.org