Council votes to allow drilling in parks

HOUSTON On Wednesday, the city gave a green light to the idea, which is not sitting well with some park visitors and those who live nearby.

The city gave its OK for drilling at Brock Park, Herman Brown Park and Maxey Park, as well as a public works center on McCarty Road.

While improving his golf game is a priority for John Gloudemans, the idea of doing so next to a natural gas rig doesn't sound appealing.

"They tell us drilling in the Gulf is for the most part safe, and we see what happens when something goes awry," he said.

Drilling in some of Houston's parks could be a reality now that City Council has approved a deal with Southern Star Exploration to look into possible natural gas reserves at the public works center on McCarty Road, Herman Brown Park, Maxey Park and Brock Park.

The three-year exploration lease will net the city just under $200,000, not counting potential gas royalties.

"The driller will comply with all state, environmental regulations that are required for any oil and gas drilling operation," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

Mayor Parker says the company will use a slant drilling technique, and drilling platforms will be outside of park property. But the Houston Air Alliance says any sort of drilling can cause serious public health issues.

"There are schools all around these parks where these leases are," said Matthew Tejada with Air Alliance Houston. "You've got to get that well head as far away from where people breath as possible."

But with the city parks potentially getting 25 percent of natural gas royalties, the project got the green light and for some golfers, that could mean much needed improvements on those same city parks.

"That sounds reasonable," said golfer Charles West. "I just don't want them to shut the course down."

The oil company will start exploration now; however actual drilling may not happen for years.

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