5100 Lauder Rd.
Houston, TX 77039
November 2010–Parks are ubiquitous in the United States but every park has its own history. Bill Crowley Park is not an exception. Hundreds of people from the surrounding neighborhoods visit Bill Crowley Park in Houston every year, including me. My experiences in this park have convinced me that Bill Crowley Park symbolizes the easy-going diversity found in our city. Looking around at the many types of people, their ages, their races, and their recreational activities builds a story for Houston ‘s way of blending all types of people. All of the neighborhoods around the park are known to be some of the most safe and peaceful in the Houston area. Bill Crowley Park is a place for families to come relax, have fun, spend valuable time together, and enjoy the beautiful nature of our world.
Bill Crowley Park may be reached by traveling north from Downtown Houston on State Highway 59 and to 5100 Lauder Rd. The park is located at about half a mile on Lauder Rd. to the west of Highway 59. When you first enter the park you will see three signs right away. First the 20 mph speed limit sign, the second sign tells you not to park along the side of the road to protect runners, and the last tells you that the Harris County Sheriff’s Department directed by Tommy Thomas patrols the park. As soon as you drive further into the park you must be more cautious because children are running around most of the time, but particularly on the weekends. You will also be warned not to process or consume any alcoholic beverage while in the park. If you fail to follow this rule you can receive a fine of up to $500. No person, other than a police officer, may carry or process a weapon within the park. The security in the park is the number one priority for the park’s patrol department. All this information and more are available at the Harris County Sheriff’s Department official website, http:/www.hcso.hctx.net/patrol/parks/rules.asp.
I visited Bill Crowley Park for the first time about five years ago. I went to play basketball and to run for little while with my sister. I remember we went late in the afternoon at about 7:00pm . All the basketball courts were full and lots of people were waiting for a chance to play. My sister and I decided to go running instead. There were many people running, walking, and riding their bicycles around the park’s track. Children were playing in the playground, a couple of people were playing tennis and other people were just sitting on the benches soothing. Something that really caught my attention was the number of parents spending time with their children. Some of the parents appeared to be tired, I thought maybe because they had just come from work. In spite of everything they made an effort to spend quality time with their kids. Bill Crowley Park closes at 8:00pm every day, so at this time my sister and I had to go home. I live approximately one mile from the park so we just ran back home to exercise more.
I continued this routine of going to the park for about two months. Every now and then I would get a chance to play basketball, others I would just run, and occasionally I sat down in one of the benches away from everyone to relax. I would sit to think about my life, my plans for the future, and lay back and look at the sky to listen to the singing of the birds on the trees. This helped me release a lot of the stress that I was going through in my first year in High School. During this period I met a couple of people. In one of my usual visits I was invited to play tennis by a boy who saw me pass by in one of my laps around the track. I had never played tennis before, but I was eager to do so. I agreed to play and it was a fantastic experience. After we were done playing we introduced each other. His name was Omar and ironically we attended the same school at which he played tennis. We would get together at the park or at school to play for a while till we were to busy to keep that habit.
The park counts with two parking lots one is located in the right side of the park in the shape of an L the other in the left side of the park. It has three Baseball fields all to the right of the first parking lot. These fields are empty most of the time except on Saturdays when a couple teams get together to compete. It has one big Basketball court with eight baskets to give everyone a chance to play and not wait for others to finish. To the left of the park there are two tennis courts with a steel cage around them to prevent you from losing balls and from hitting anyone.
All of the things that we have in our park even the park itself would not be there if it wasn’t for the support that the National Recreation & Park Association provides. The NRPA provides our community volunteers with the proper knowledge to support our park. NRPA unites the community to help them discover the benefits of having parks, to protect the environment, and to prevent disagreements when it comes to changes in the park. Also, Houston s running community speaks up whenever unwanted changes occur in the park like the cutting of trees.
In the center of the park is the most visited attraction of all. The children’s playground; with all the swings, the short little tunnels that lead to the sliding ramp and many more things children love. The park also provides a ½ mile track that goes around the center for anyone who enjoys walking, running, or riding bicycles in the beautiful outdoors. Around the track there are many benches for you to sit and appreciate the beauty of nature, to relax and release all the stress of the world around you. Dispersed all around the park are 25 concrete tables with cooking grills available for anyone to cook as well as trash cans to keep the park nice and clean. The main office is located by the baseball fields and there is always a peace officer available all the time the park is open.
On one occasion when I had finish running I sat down in one of the benches close to the left side parking lot of the park when an elderly man came up to me. He was wearing a headband, a gray sweater, black shorts, and white running shoes. He had been walking for quite some time. I new this because I passed him up a few times when I was running and his sweater was very wet. I had seen this man a good number of times that I went to the park. He asked me if he could sit with me and I told him he could. Then he asked for my name I told him Silvano, he went on to introduce himself. His name was Robert Oregon and he was 65 years old. He told me he had been going to Bill Crowley Park ever since they opened it more than 15 years ago and he would never stop until god call for him. He said before the park was built there was nothing but woods in that area. “The community around here needed a park. We needed a place for families and friends to come together other than at home.” He said that parks are the best way for anyone to see the diversity among the communities of Houston . Also, the best place to meet several of your neighbors.
On my latest visits to Bill Crowley Park not much has changed. The baseball fields are empty most of the time. The basketball courts are always busy in the afternoon. The tennis courts with only two persons most of the time. It was very pleasing to see all the parents with their kids playing and teaching them how to play games or to use toys. I saw this man teaching his son how to fly a kite. His wife was teaching their daughter how to ride a bicycle. This brought back memories from when I was a little kid. I remembered when my mom helped me make my first kite. Also when I got my first bicycle and went to try it out for the first time. I know how important those things were for me at that time. I went to ask this couple how they felt when they were with their kids? They both told me that they felt complete. “These are times that we are never going to get back and I want my children to enjoy them to the fullest and to know that we were here for them.”
Many more couples were walking around with their little babies. The children’s playground is still the most visited place in the park but I think I have seen more kids now. This means that our community is growing which means our city is growing as well. The diversity at Bill Crowley Parkis incredible you see Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, Chinese; you name it the park has it. The diversity makes Houston a great city and Bill Crowley Park its best symbolization. When I see all those kids with a smile in their faces it makes me want to be a little kid again with no stress or worries and no responsibilities, those were the good days. I have been to many more parks after my first visit to Bill Crowley Park but none of them compare to Bill Crowley. One thing was different I did not see Mr. Robert Oregon in any of my recent visits. I have been thinking that maybe he is not able to go to the park by himself because of his age, but maybe God made the call already.
Furthermore, this park is the best representation of the great city of Houston . My experiences have convinced me that all parks have the potential to build a sense of community. This idea has come to me in my own experience of making friends and meeting strangers. Also, from watching mothers and fathers build strong ties with their children. When I see that my community is united it makes me feel much safer. I always see some of my neighbors at the park and we always greet each other. I hope to meet more people in the years to come. I will keep going to Bill Crowley park because is one of the places where I forget all my problems.
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