When Jones Park Director Darlene Conley set out to build a new parking lot, she had two criteria in mind: preserve as much of Jones Park as possible and make festival parking more convenient for visitors.

Despite the need for additional parking, Jones Park staff wanted to avoid a traditional parking lot that would increase stormwater runoff during floods, contribute to pollution in the park, and absorb excess heat during the summer.

To reconcile this need with the park’s dedication to conservation, preservation, and flood control, Jones Park staff, along with Precinct 4’s Parks Department, selected a permeable parking lot that could handle Harris County’s sudden and drenching rains and filter sediment, metals, and other pollutants from stormwater.

Using porous material, Precinct 4’s Trailblazers team built the parking lot to absorb rainwater as the natural ground would. Jones Park staff took the idea further by planting bushes, trees, and native grasses within the parking lot, with plans to add more foliage next year. To help deflect heat, grass will be allowed to grow through the parking lot surface while crushed asphalt will prevent the parking lot from becoming muddy.

Now, it truly is a parkable forest! And, with 100 conveniently located parking spaces, visitors can quickly access festivals, the Nature Center, and the Spring Creek Greenway Trail.

Try out the new parking lot during an Old-Fashioned Christmas Saturday, Dec. 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.