OURCRAD IS A BIT STUFFY. Unstuff a crab at Kangaroo Court. Interesting food. Fabulous drinks. On the River. Hop on over. 11:30 AM-11 PM Daily. Till 12 AM Fri. and Sat. All major credit cards. 512 Riverwalk. San Antonio, Texas. February 2Z 1976 Oil in the park Houston When it first came up, the idea of drilling for oil and gas in the big fat middle of Houston’s Memorial Park appeared to boast the oddest crew of backers you ever heard of. George Brown, who was Lyndon Johnson’s sugar daddy and one of the few people who made money out of the war in Vietnam; the late Miss Ima Hogg, that impeccable patron of all things bright and beautiful in Texas; and assorted park lovers and green freaks seemed to be united on the desirability of sinking wells in Memorial. But could George Brown of Brown & Root construction company, builders of the infamous Khe Sanh “tiger cages” used to hold South Vietnamese political prisoners, long remain happily united with bird-lovers and kite flyers? Nope. Houston environ,mentalisfs took to kicking up a dust or knee-jerking, depending on one’s point of view, shortly after the drilling proposal was unveiled. The idea was simple enough. Brownco, Inc., one of George Brown’s corporate creatures which happens to be in the oil and gas business, thought there was a shot at hitting fuel by drilling in Memorial Park. Brown approached Miss Ima, whose family had sold the Memorial .Park land to the city of Houston in 1924 at a price well below its value. The Hoggs gave the larid with the stipulation that it would revert to the family if it were ever used for anything but a public park. The deal Brown offered Miss Ima was an unusually high royalty payment-25 percent of the profits the first three years of operation and 40 percent thereafter. And Miss Ima planned to dedicate those royalty profits to the buying of new park land for Houston. IF it could be ascertained that the drilling would not harm the environment of Memorial Park, it seemed like a good deal all around. Brownco retained the Houston law firm of Liddell, Sapp, Zivley and the firm in turn called former Sen. Don Kennard, now with the Natural Areas Survey group at the University of Texas, and asked Kennard to do an environmental impact statement. Houston environmentalists now refer to this as “the Brownco-commissioned survey.” Kennard is himself a park-lover of no mean repute and he hied Marshall Johnston of Rare Plant Study Center fame, a man who wouldn’t voluntarily harm a skunk weed, into the project. Johnston sent one of his botany graduate students to do . the on-the-scene work and Kennard also roped in a forester to take a look. Their joint report concluded approximately that careful drilling would not harm Memorial Park. While no one except those whom Sen. Lloyd Bentsen is fond of calling “environmental extremists” questioned the good faith of the report makers, the uneasy facts remained that the report was commissioned by Liddell, Zivley, acting for Brownco, and it was compiled in a humongous hurryin five days, in fact. The Houston Sierra Club and the Houston Audubon Society were not impressed. During a public forum on the drilling proposal at Rice University Feb. 6, the Kennard report was criticized for “findings not consistent with the survey summary” and other alleged failings. The city council met once on the proposal and decided to hold further hearings on Feb. 24. One of Mayor Fred Hofheinz’ aides said the mayor was “interested, very interested, in the proposal, but cautious.” The pro-drillers have been muttering about “knee-jerk environmentalists.” The Houston Chronicle has endorsed the drilling proposal in a fairly thoughtful editorial, which’ placed great faith in Miss Ima’s protective concern for the park. But there are environmentalists whO sneer at Memorial Park qua park. We know one Parks and Wildlife Department staffer who couldn’t care less if Memorial were pock-marked with wells. He claims the park is already an environmental disaster area, that it has to be replanted with pines and even re-squirrelled periodically. Be that as it may, it’s about the best Houston has got by way of a green belt and not.to be lightly tampered with. Heaven knows, it would be pleasant to have 40 percent of the royalties off some producing wells to use to buy more parks for Houston. But if the drilling were permitted, there would clearly have to be careful contractual agreements made by the city and Brownco. The Sierra and Audobon groups are not “knee-jerking” by asking for something better than a five-day study. This could be one time when that classic bureaucratic-political punt “it calls for more study” is actually the best call. M.I. Bob and Sara Roebuck Anchor National Financial Services 1524 E. 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