To accelerate the visionary Memorial Park Master Plan, the Kinder Foundation offered a grant of $70 million to Memorial Park Conservancy in April 2018, then Houston’s largest single parks grant, which served as a catalyst for public-private partnership with the City of Houston. The Kinder Foundation grant specified that Memorial Park Conservancy would raise the remaining $55 million of the total $125 million in private funding, with the City committing to a $50 million public dollar investment for infrastructure improvements. It also leveraged the potential for $30 million in federal support.
The foundation’s grant supports connectivity to and within the park including a land bridge and prairie over Memorial Drive; destination projects such as Eastern Glades, Memorial Groves, and Phase 1 of the Sports Complex; and ecological restoration. Other plan additions include a trail/bridge system north over I-10, linking the White Oak Bayou Greenway trail system, and south over Buffalo Bayou (dependent on federal funding); a 1.5-mile accessibility trail through the 600-acre wilderness, and other trails and crossings. See the full Memorial Park Master Plan approved by Houston City Council in 2015.
The Clay Family Eastern Glades opened to critical acclaim in July 2020. In early 2022, Houstonians gathered to celebrate the completion of four spacious Memorial Drive tunnels, which allow 55,000 cars to pass each day below the massive earthen Land Bridge. In February 2023, the iconic Kinder Land Bridge and the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Prairie opened. The nearly 100-acre destination reconnects the north and south halves of the park with safe passage for humans and animals over Memorial Drive and reestablishes native coastal prairie to enable a more resilient ecology and diverse habitat.memorialparkconservancy.org