Houston's Sunnyside to Blossom with $28.3 Million Hill at Sims Regional Park

Francis Page Jr. | 1/30/2024, 2:18 p.m.
Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and the Houston Parks Board are set to elevate Sunnyside's greenspace with the approval of …
The Hill at Sims will be located on the site of a stormwater detention basin and adjacent land along Sims Bayou and Scott Street in southern Harris County. Precinct One and the Houston Parks Board are currently designing a system of pedestrian trails for the site. This greenspace will serve a dual purpose that both protects homes and businesses during severe weather and provides access to safe, healthy recreational opportunities for everyone to enjoy.

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and the Houston Parks Board are set to elevate Sunnyside's greenspace with the approval of the last major funding piece for the $28.3 million Hill at Sims regional park. The Harris County Commissioners Court's recent nod secures an additional $7.5 million investment from The Brown Foundation, boosting the project's transformative impact on the community.

Currently, the project area hosts a 100-acre regional detention basin owned by the Harris County Flood Control District. The approved agreement ensures funds for augmenting the existing basin with recreational amenities, introducing 4.5 miles of new hike-and-bike trails and linking to almost 20 miles of trails along Sims Bayou Greenway. The construction is anticipated to conclude by the end of 2025, with the Houston Parks Board overseeing two project phases.

Commissioner Ellis, through Precinct One, has initiated the construction of the Sims Bayou Pedestrian Bridge, a pivotal aspect connecting Hill at Sims to the established Sims Bayou Greenway. This bridge promises improved accessibility to greenspace on the other side of the Bayou, creating a seamlessly connected trail and park experience. The bridge will incorporate an overlook area offering panoramic views of Sims Bayou Greenway and will feature enhanced lighting for user safety.

Expressing enthusiasm for the project, Commissioner Ellis stated, "Our office prioritizes expanding equitable access to greenspace and trails for all communities. Once complete, Hill at Sims will be a source of pride and an invaluable gathering space for the Sunnyside community, improving community health, building social connections, and fostering environmental resilience."

The total cost for Hill at Sims, encompassing the bridge and recreational enhancements, amounts to $28.3 million. Precinct One contributes $18.8 million, The Brown Foundation generously gifts $7.5 million (secured by Houston Parks Board), and an additional $2 million is allocated from federal and state funds, thanks to the advocacy efforts of State Rep. Alma Allen and Congressman Al Green.

Beth White, President and CEO of Houston Parks Board, expressed gratitude, stating, "Hill at Sims is a true testament to the power of collaboration between public and private entities in expanding greenspaces to underserved communities."

The project includes four recreational components: hill and basin improvements, the nature pavilion, the Scott Street Greenway, and the Sims Bayou Bridge. The greenway introduces a 1.5-mile hike-and-bike trail connecting directly to Hill at Sims, with potential coordination with the METRO BOOST corridor for improved bus stops and road crossings.

"The Brown Foundation is proud to support the new recreation amenities at Hill at Sims. Greenspace projects are essential to the quality of life for all Houstonians," said Isabel Stude Lummis, President of The Brown Foundation.

The Houston Parks Board conducted a planning study at Hill at Sims in 2019, seeking possibilities for recreational amenities and enhanced natural areas. With community outreach and input integral to the process, over 700 constituents attended 20-plus community meetings, ensuring alignment with the priorities of nearby residents.

For more information and updates on Hill at Sims, visit HCP1.net/HillatSims. Stay connected with Houston Style Magazine for the latest developments on this transformative project that promises to enhance Sunnyside's greenspace and community vibrancy.