Parking problems at Houston Zoo

April 21, 2008 5:13:12 PM PDT
Parking around Hermann Park has been a problem on and off since the 1950s. City leaders say they may never solve the problem, but they certainly hope to manage it better. Around Hermann Park this weekend, parking was at a premium.

Park visitor Nichelle Maxey explained, "I'm at the corner, trying to turn... There's just, like, four or five cars trying to get into one parking spot."

More than 26,000 people went just to the zoo Saturday and Sunday.

"When you try to park in here, it's crazy," said park visitor Duane Bosse.

The crowds were so great that the Bosse family gave up their search for a spot, opting to park elsewhere.

Britney Bosse told Eyewitness News, "We had to walk about six or seven blocks."

There are only 2,000 parking spaces throughout the park. Congestion is inevitable on days when the weather is good. Rick Dewees with the City of Houston admitted, "It's a problem. It's a big problem about 15 days a year."

Dewees is the assistant director of Houston's parks and recreation department. He says the department, the zoo, the Hermann Park Conservancy and the Museum of Natural Science have paid for a study underway right now which will look at traffic management and parking solutions. There has been talk of building a parking garage here, something suggested by another study on parking years ago. Until something is built, park officials encourage you to come early in the day or late -- or to simply park your car elsewhere and consider using light rail, which will drop you off right at the edge of the park.

"The rail is a really great way to increase our attendance in the park without taking up additional green space," Dewees said.

One unknown still is how the opening of the Discovery Green Park downtown will affect crowds at Hermann. That, in and of itself, could alleviate some of the congestion.

That study on parking and traffic management should be complete in the next few months. Officials say you should expect some relief once recommendations are implemented.

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