Precinct 4 to Open New NW Harris County Park
Precinct 4 is bringing another community closer to nature with the opening of the Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve. People of all ages can canoe the waters of a serene lake, stroll underneath a canopy of trees, or take a rest while observing countless wildlife. In the peaceful setting of this new greenspace, residents can relax, unwind, and appreciate the sights and sounds of nature. The park spans 80 acres and features the 40-acre Marshall Lake with a 1.7-mile paved trail that circles the water.
Precinct 4 celebrates the grand opening of its newest park with the public on Saturday, April 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the event, visitors can explore the lake by canoe or from Precinct 4’s pontoon boat, fish from the banks, and take in nature presentations.
Natural Floodplain Buffer
Situated along Hwy. 249, the property is an important anchor park for the Cypress Creek Greenway. The 40-mile linear trail will stretch from west of Hwy. 290 eastward to the Spring Creek Greenway at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center.
As with other parts of the Cypress Creek Greenway, Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve serves as a natural floodplain buffer. “During storm events, parks like Kickerillo-Mischer serve as natural detention facilities. They act like giant sponges, slowing floodwaters, capturing sediment, and absorbing run-off,” says Dennis Johnston, Precinct 4 parks administrator.
Though Kickerillo Companies and Mischer Investments first donated the land to Precinct 4 back in 2009, construction of staff offices deep in the floodplain proved cost prohibitive. When Prestonwood Forest Utility District (PFUD) agreed to lease its former fire station building, located directly adjacent to the property, Commissioner R. Jack Cagle recognized an opportunity for a staff building and a greenlight to construction of the park. “That agreement with PFUD saved taxpayers about $2 million,” Johnston says.
Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve has restrooms and showers, making the newly developed land an ideal camping site for scouts and other community groups in the future. The park will be staffed with a director and onsite caretakers who will provide a variety of Precinct 4 park programming, as well as additional educational offerings in collaboration with Bayou Land Conservancy. Other park features, such as fishing piers, a picnic pavilion, outdoor classroom, and an amphitheater, are being considered as future amenities.
The two-phase, $3.4 million project included road improvements, hike-and-bike trails, construction of parking lots, utility infrastructure, a restroom facility, trail connections to the parking lot, renovation of the old firehouse, fencing, and a bridge across Cypress Creek. PFUD also donated 25 percent of the cost of the new bridge, which totaled $212,832. The preserve was first deemed parkland in the early 2000s, in part thanks to the Friends of Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve. The grassroots organization urged then-owner, Hewlett-Packard, to preserve the land for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers. Hewlett- Packard stipulated that the wooded preserve be set aside for use as a passive recreational park when the company sold 462 acres to developer Vincent Kickerillo in 2005. Harris County Commissioners Court accepted conveyance of the 80-acre property in 2009 from Vincent Kickerillo and Walt Mischer’s V&W Partners. V&W brought together representatives from Precinct 4, the Friends of the Kickerillo- Mischer Preserve, and local landscape architect, Clark Condon Associates, to create a master plan for the park. The resulting strategy won a Best of the Best Award from the Houston-Galveston Area Council. “With the opening of Kickerillo- Mischer Preserve, we are able to serve an entirely new population of residents with outdoor recreational opportunities and engaging educational programming,” Commissioner Cagle says.