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Harris County approves contract to help redesign Mercer Botanic Gardens

December 21, 2018

Mercer Botanic Gardens will be getting a facelift after the Harris County Commissioners Court approved a contract with Halff Associates, Inc. on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Halff Associates will be tasked with designing an additional 35 acres it is working to acquire which are located just south of the gardens, said Mercer interim director Chris Ludwig.

“It’s kind of got a clean slate. We’re going to be building new greenhouses on that property. We’ll have new ones built in the other property, so that’ll get them out of the flood plains and out of the flow of the water when it does flood,” he said.

During both the Tax Day Flood and Hurricane Harvey, rare plants kept in the greenhouses were washed away by high flood waters as well as trails, buildings and other parts of the gardens.

Mercer has been undertaking restoration efforts this year, with volunteers arriving in September to help restore the ramble garden as well as opening other features, such as the healing, tropical, children’s and Shakespeare gardens.

The Baldwin Boettcher Library, which is also located on the same grounds, was also damaged by the floods and the Harris County Public Library established the Little Blue Library to bring back services to the community.

HCPL announced in September that the library would be rebuilt in the same location and be water-resilient so that equipment and books can be moved in anticipation of a flood.

The library building itself is expected to to be cleaned up more easily after potential future flooding and services can return to the community after the waters have receded.

Aside from creating designs for the new property, Halff Associates will also create the redesign of the gardens’ entrance where Baldwin Boettcher is expected to be rebuilt and decide what do to with the space where the current greenhouses are located, which are expected to be eventually torn down.

“We haven’t decided how we’re going to use that space — if it’s going to be a green space or if it’s going to incorporate the garden into that space,” Ludwig said.

mayra.cruz@chron.com

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