Connected Community: A Case Study of the Willow Fork Drainage District

Where we live matters. It has direct influence on our lives socially, environmentally and economically. When comparing a community’s needs of present to those of the past, it’s easy to see that new communities prioritize access to nature, trails and other shared amenities. However, more than just tangible amenities like trails, people crave something intangible: connections. Connections to one another and connections to nature. So, how do we ensure this is something developers, municipalities and others focus on when creating a new community? And equally as important – what do we do about older communities that must reinvest in their amenity offerings to maintain their value and competitive edge? One solution we’ll explore in this presentation is through the park powers established for a MUD, or a special municipal utility district, that provides water, sewage, drainage, parks, and other utility-related services to an unincorporated area. Through a case study on the Willow Fork Drainage District in Houston (a MUD consisting of 5,700 acres), this presentation will explore the critical partnerships needed to be successful, provide real world tools to identify and collaborate with the master entity controlling the area, present innovative techniques to capitalize on leftover lands, and highlight the important lessons learned along the way.


A Michigan native and Principal in TBG’s Houston office, Matt Klein joined TBG in 2011 after working for an internationally known landscape architecture firm on a variety of projects ranging from resorts and parks to community planning and streetscapes. His experience includes both public and private sector work, varying in size from one-acre parks to projects encompassing hundreds of acres. Matt creates environments that are in harmony with the site’s natural attributes, enhancing the land’s intrinsic beauty with places that are inviting and comfortably scaled. His designs articulate a clean and informal aesthetic that helps to create memorable places with great character.

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