Created by city ordinance on March 15, 1916, the Department of Public Parks, as it was called at the time, began with two facilities, Sam Houston Park and Hermann Park (Code of Ordinances, City of Houston, Chapter 32, Article 1, Section 32-2). Today, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.) system includes 380 developed parks and more than 167 greenspaces totaling over 39,501 acres.
On October 15, 2008, the department became one of only seventy-nine agencies in the country to have received national accreditation through the National Recreation and Park Association’s (N.R.P.A.) Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). This peer assessment and self-evaluation process provides external recognition of an organization's commitment to quality and improvement. The department was reaccredited in 2013 at the National Recreation and Park Association Congress and Exposition held in Houston.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.) is composed of 6 divisions:
The Director’s Office is responsible for the Executive Direction of the department. The director, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council, directs, controls and manages all parks, parkways, esplanades, trails, playgrounds and recreation buildings and other improvements on park and playground property belonging to or under the control of the city.
Recreation and Wellness
This division oversees the operation and programming of the department’s 60 community centers, the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center (M.M.S.C.), and the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark.
This division oversees the daily maintenance of Houston’s parkland, esplanades, greenspaces, urban forests and manages the operation of Lake Houston Wilderness Park.
Facilities Management and Development
This division is responsible for the administration of the Parks Master Plan and individual park Master Plans, implements the Capital Improvement Plan (in coordination with the General Services Department), oversees and coordinates park system improvements and expansion, and provides Park Administration for Hermann and Memorial Park.
Management and Finance
This division oversees the operations of all aspects of accounting, purchasing, information technology services, safety, and grant writing for the department and includes liaisons for HR, Payroll and Workers Compensation.
The Communications Office is responsible for the public dissemination of information about the department and its programs. Its staff produces the department’s website and a wide range of printed material and response to requests through the Texas Public Information Act and from local media sources.
Urban Park Rangers
Urban Park Rangers monitor trails, picnic areas, pavilions and similar park areas on foot, bicycle and motorized vehicles. Their visible presence helps deter vandalism, promotes visitor safety and insures the proper use of parks and facilities.
FACILITIES AND AMENITIES
- 380 Parks
- 39,501 Acres
- 60 Community Centers (including Metropolitan Multi-Service Center at West Gray)
- 37 Pools (including Metropolitan Multi-Service Center at West Gray)
- 26 Water Spray grounds
- 229 Playgrounds
- 165.31 miles of trails
- 6 Golf Courses
- 5 Disc Golf Courses
- 201 Tennis courts
- 20 Volleyball courts
- 173 Basketball Courts (63 Multi-Use Pavilions + 36 Full Courts + 74 Half Courts)
- 161 Baseball & Softball Fields
- 103 football/soccer/cricket/lacrosse fields
- 75 Practice Backstops
- 1 Nature Centers
- 10 Dog Parks
- 7 Skate Parks
- 11 Community Garden Sites
- 5 Fitness Centers