Who We Are
In 1986 West University Place saw the beginning of a new boom—the number of resident children was growing rapidly, along with the shrinking of backyard space. According to a use-and-safety audit performed in the late eighties, park playgrounds needed upgrading and updating. More open green spaces had to be located.
The Friends of West University Parks Fund, (Friends) is a volunteer based 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising funds for development and improvement of parks and green spaces in the City of West University Place.
Realizing that action was needed quickly, the West University Place Parks & Recreations Board commissioned Tapley-Lunow Architects to develop a master plan. The plan was ambitious, designed to build quality parks throughout West U. It called for new parklands to be purchased, trees protected, picnic areas established, beautification of and new uses for existing parks, and new and quality recreation areas formed. Each park had a specific design plan, aesthetic and functional, suited to West U’s residential character.
A great deal of money was needed to complete this plan. Previously, all costs of the parks were paid from funds allocated within the budget of the city. Because of the need to raise a large sum of money and to implement the plan as quickly as possible, it was the desire to move the cost of park development to a private source. As a result, the Friends of West University Parks Fund, was incorporated and officially recognized by the City of West University Place in May 1986. Since then, taxpayer dollars have been used primarily for park maintenance and the purchase of some additional land.
The Friends, a volunteer group, is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization chartered to raise money to improve and develop parks in the City of West University Place. It is composed of citizens who are appointed by City Council in three-year renewable terms. The Friends work closely with the West U Parks and Recreation Board and are supported by an advisory committee of residents.
Since its inception, the Friends have raised over $8 million. This amount includes money raised from foundation grants, citizens’ bequests, memorials, the annual Park Lovers' Ball, Fathers & Flashlights campout, and various other efforts including the sale of engraved park pavers and West U logo golf shirts and various partnership efforts with local businesses. It also includes $1,000,000 raised through the Lewis Family Charitable Foundation matching grant for the West U Recreation Center, formerly the Southwest YMCA. A check for $1,000,000 was presented to the City of West University Place at the 2009 Park Lovers’ Ball.
With these funds Colonial Park has doubled in size. The Milton Street site was purchased, developed, and named Huffington Park, thanks to the generous support of a major donor. Wier Park on Sunset, Judson Park in the chimney and Whitt Johnson Park were totally refurbished. The Friends Park site on Rice and Auden was purchased and developed as well as additional lots on the Colonial site. Huffington Park was completely refurbished in the early summer of 2009. More recently, Friends funded the tennis courts at Judson Park and developed and opened West U’s newest addition to the park system, Jennie Elizabeth Hughes Park, with the land being donated to the City by a resident. West U’s parks are fun, safe little havens for all citizens to enjoy.
As the 1990’s drew to a close, the Friends and the Parks boards saw the need to develop a new long-range plan. After an extensive survey of the citizens’ desires for parks, a new master plan (that included the former YMCA site and redevelopment of Colonial Park) was developed by White Oak Consultants. This plan will easily carry the city through the next decade. In 2009 the construction of the new West U Recreation Center began and was completed in the spring of 2010.
West U residents now anticipate an abundance of quality parks and green space in an urban environment. To meet that expectation, the Friends of West U Parks look to the city, its residents, partnering businesses, and foundations to raise the necessary funds to realize this vision.
Alone we can do so little.
Together we can do so much.
Meet Our Board
The Friends Board is a volunteer board appointed by City Council, with the support of one paid position.
Advisory Board (PDF)
Those interested in becoming a member of the Friends of West University Parks Fund Board of Directors must complete an application that is available through the Friends office at 4210 Bellaire Blvd., West University Place, TX 77025 (713-662-7430) or download an application.
Based on position availability, the Friends’ executive committee will interview interested parties and qualified applicants are then recommended to City Council for appointment.
Members are appointed for three-year terms, which expire August 31 of each year on a rotating basis. Completed forms should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: Friends of West University Parks Fund, 4210 Bellaire Blvd, West University Place, Texas 77025.
How can I get involved?
Maybe you do not have enough time to devote to being a member of the Friends Board of Directors, but still want to be involved. Serving on a committee for Park Lovers' Ball or Fathers & Flashlights is a perfect solution.
Those interested in becoming a committee member are encouraged to contact the Friends office at 713-662-7430 or email the Friends' office.