Night noise at Northshore Park prompts discussion at The Woodlands Aug. 20 meeting; board offers coronavirus updates

The Woodlands Township entrance
The Woodlands Township board of directors discussed park disturbances and coronavirus updates at its Aug. 20 meeting. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Woodlands Township board of directors discussed park disturbances and coronavirus updates at its Aug. 20 meeting. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Park rangers will continue to treat The Woodland Township’s popular Northshore Park as a hot spot for patrols with an emphasis on evening hours after resident complaints about nighttime noise made it to the board of directors’ agenda Aug. 20.

Chris Nunes, the director of parks and recreation for the township, gave the board seven options for dealing with the problem, which residents have described as young people lingering in the volleyball courts at night and playing loud music. Township parks are open until 11 p.m., but due to some parks being closed as part of the township’s coronavirus response, recreation facilities at the 7-acre park on Lake Woodlands Drive are seeing more use, Nunes said.

A nearby resident, Michael Cousins, called into the public comment portion of the meeting to offer a neighborhood perspective on the courts.

"They are in use almost every night, with groups of youths and young adults playing until around 11 p.m. when the lights are finally shut off," he said. "More often than not, the volleyball is accompanied by loud music and obviously constant yelling when the game gets exciting. This goes on for a four- or five-hour period. As I said, almost every night right next to the neighborhood."

Cousins said he was hoping the lights at the courts could be shut off at 9 p.m.

Nunes described Northshore Park as the "crown jewel" of the township's park system, attracting dozens of people at the time to enjoy the lake, playground and other amenities.

It has two lighted volleyball courts as well as boat docks, a boat ramp and picnic tables. The park was built in 1985 and underwent a $3 million renovation in 2015-17, he said.

The volleyball court was not changed as part of the renovation, he said.

Nunes said on-call supervisors for the parks are available 24 hours a day, and park rangers are on duty until midnight.

After discussing several options, the board voted to direct staff to continue to manage Northshore Park as a hot spot by its ranger unit to ensure compliance with sound and noise restrictions, which will mean more frequent visits to the park, especially between 9-11 p.m.

The issue will be revisited if the conditions do not improve as a result of the activity, board Chair Gordy Bunch said.

During an earlier portion of the videoconference meeting, the board devoted much of its time to apprising residents of recent developments in COVID-19 testing and response. It also brought in an outside expert, Dr. Charles Sims, an infectious disease specialist at CHI-St Luke’s Health, to talk about recent developments in treatment and hospitalization.

"In July ... St. Luke's The Woodlands [hospital] was peaking at around 60 cases a day," Sims said. "Memorial Hermann was more than that ... that push our capacity essentially to the limit. I don't think people realize how close we were to overwhelming the medical system in the last week of July."

He said finding available beds was not as much of an issue as ensuring there were available staff such as nurses and respiratory technicians for patients that require a lot of care.

However, as late August approached, he said the situation had improved for the time being.

"All three hospital systems are about 50% capacity of where we were two or three weeks ago," he said.

The Woodlands Township provides daily updates on the coronavirus response in the community.

Bunch's presentation at the meeting on daily infections, testing and hospital resources is available on the township website.

Director Ann Snyder presented information about area nonprofits and their efforts so far this year, including the increase in demand on area services. Interfaith of The Woodlands has seen a 100% increase in demand since 2019, the Montgomery County Food Bank has seen a 62% increase in distribution since the same time last year and Meals on Wheels has seen a 32% increase, she said. In addition, youth services such as Yes to Youth have seen an increase in demand for counseling and shelter for abused youth.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.