Has Annise Parker been channeling her inner Charles Barkley? The Houston mayor set off a mini-controversy Wednesday and needled San Antonio in a response to a question about why the Bayou City doesn't turn its bayous into tourist destinations.
"As I travel I am often asked by people why we don't turn Buffalo Bayou Park into a River Walk ... the answer is that the river walk is a cement ditch ... there's no nice way to put it," Parker said on the steps of Houston's City Hall.
Parker made her comments while accepting an award from the American Planning Association, which recently named Buffalo Bayou Park (which Parker dubbed "our Central Park") to its 2012 Great Public Spaces list, Tyler Rudick of CultureMap Houston reported. Rudick noted that Parker went on to explain that sentiment, saying that keeping Buffalo Bayou as an "living, active water course" helps with flood control.
These are not the first ill words spoken about the famous River City desitnation. Back in May Barkley angered San Antonians (and provoked a video response from the city's mayor, Julián Castro) when he referred to the river walk as a “a dirty little creek” on national television. (He also maligned San Antonio's women by calling them fat and dismissed the Alamo as “the place where everyone got killed.” )
The Houston Chronicle noted Friday that Castro has fired back at Parker. “Seems like Houstonians have a little river envy,” Castro said. “Mayor Parker is a good mayor, we have a good relationship but it was clear from her comments that Houstonians are more than a little jealous of the river walk.”
(On their post about the controversy, the Chronicle is taking a poll on the question "Would you pay higher taxes to develop the Houston bayous?" As of 11 a.m. Friday the "absolutely not" option was winning.)