"They've been sadly bare for a very long time, and it feels like it’s missing something. ... River Oaks was designed to be a garden suburb, but maybe the garden part was forgotten along the way," foundation board president Susanne Pritchard said.
Infrastructure projects in the 2000s—including the 2002 Kirby Drive Storm Sewer Relief Program and the 2009 River Oaks Boulevard, Westheimer Road and Inwood Drive Project—resulted in the loss of the neighborhood's roadway landscaping.
Moss Landscaping began work May 1 on Phase 1, which will address the three sections north of San Felipe Street. The project includes installing reclaimed brick pavers, leveling and grading the surface, resodding grass, adding low hedges and planting roses, similar to the display seen at the River Oaks Country Club. The restoration will retain the character and vistas offered by the original landscaping: a straight line of sight from Lamar High School to the country club.
The effort to restore and maintain new esplanades began two years ago, prompted by foundation board member Chris O’Sullivan. Funds raised since that time will cover the first phase of the project, but more support is needed to complete the vision. The River Oaks Foundation was created 20 years ago to support projects such as this, which fall beyond the scope of the neighborhood property association.
However, rather than wait until raising the full $5 million goal to fund all nine sections and endow a permanent maintenance fund, Pritchard said, the time was right to move forward.
"With the quarantine and stay-at-home [order], everyone has been walking in the neighborhood more often. People are really outdoors and enjoying the beauty of their neighborhood more than I have ever seen before," she said. "It’s not an ideal time to ask for donations, ... but it is an ideal time to have the Boulevard looking beautiful."