October 14, 2005                                       HPARD
Deborah Rule
                                                              Houston Parks Board

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                                                              c. 832.971.2635
                                                        James Rodriguez
                                                              CM Carol Alvarado,

East End Community Vision Becoming Reality
East End Community celebrates the beginning of
a long awaited vision

HOUSTON – Approximately ten years ago, the community surrounding Mason Park, led by Freddie and Blanca Blanco and the Mason Park Beautification Committee, dreamed of turning a seldom used “triangle” of Mason Park into a thriving spot with cultural significance and amenities for the elderly.  This week, that vision is one step closer to reality thanks to the partnership between Council Member Carol Alvarado, the Houston Parks Board and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.  On Saturday, October 15, 2:00 P.M. they will be joined by U.S. Congressman Gene Green, State Representative Rick Noriega and Mayor Bill White to unveil the new plans for “Plaza Viva” in Mason Park located at 541 South 75th Street at Tipps Street.

“Mason Park is one of Houston's and the East End's most treasured assets.  I have made it a priority to secure private funding for its improvement.  This project is an example of my office's commitment to public/private partnerships and working to put neighborhoods first," said Council Member Alvarado.

Houston Parks and Recreation Director Joe Turner echoes CM Alvarado’s sentiments, "This project is a unified effort to help enhance park land for Houston's East End community.  We are thrilled to work with Council Member Alvarado, the area legislators, the community, and private supporters to make “Plaza Viva” become a reality."

The event will feature the unveiling of the master plan and artist renderings of the “Plaza Viva” project, followed by a community celebration with music and refreshments. 

The plans for this part of the park include a Colonial-Mexican styled pavilion with fountains, landscaping, fully accessible walkways, and benches to beautify the west side of Mason Park and to give life to an area of the park that is currently underutilized.  “Viva” in Spanish means alive and full of life.  This is an appropriate name for this area because it signifies an area of the park, “coming to life,” or “full of life.”

“Our elderly community members have a great need for safe walking areas away from the more active trails in Mason Park”, stated Blanca Blanco, Chair of the Mason Park Beautification Committee. “We also hope to create an inviting environment for local bands, mariachis and other artists to practice, play, and entertain the community.”  Additionally, Plaza Viva will serve as a picturesque wedding portrait site and a place for cultural events, community gatherings, and receptions.

The project has been funded in large part by private donations to Council Member Alvarado’s 2004 Birthday Party, the 2004 City of Houston Birthday Party and the Houston Endowment Inc. Federal funds have also been earmarked for the Plaza Viva project, thanks to the support of Congressman Gene Green and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.   "I am glad we could work to have federal funds help rebuild this East End landmark. Mason Park is a jewel for our community and Houston.  From mothers with babies to soccer players, walkers and joggers, all generations use the park and will benefit from the new Plaza Viva", stated Congressman Green.

Ms. Roksan Okan-Vick, Executive Director of the Houston Parks Board, commended the Mason Park Beautification Committee for their efforts and persistence.  “The Houston Parks Board is delighted to be able to assist communities achieve their goals for their parks”, said Roksan Okan-Vick.  “Our partnerships with neighborhoods and civic groups not only increases success in fundraising, but also ensures the long term well-being of park land.” 

 The Houston Parks Board, a charitable organization dedicated to representing private donors and managing their contributions to acquire additional parkland and improve existing parks, will serve as the project manager for the project. 

For additional information on Mason Park or the Houston Parks and Recreation Department call 713.845.1135 or visit our Web site at