TPWD News Release — June 23, 2011
HOUSTON – The welcome rains subsided just in time for a crowd of 100-plus to witness the unveiling of the new John Jacob Observation Tower at Sheldon Lake State Park Thursday morning, on the east side of Texas’ largest city.
The tower, named for native Houstonian, civic leader and executive at Anheuser-Busch, John Jacob, cost $1.5 million to construct—all of which was funded by private donations—and features an access ramp, stairs and an elevator that ultimately provide unprecedented views of the park, reservoir and beyond from atop the 82-foot-tall structure.
“This tower is going to become the signature item for this park. People are going to come here to climb to the top and take in the view, said Sheldon Lake State Park superintendent Robert Comstock. “The dream and vision to have this tower was on paper, but without the private donations, it never would have become a reality.”
Fundraising efforts for the project began in 2003 by then TPW Commissioner Al Henry, also a Houston native. Henry helped secure millions of dollars toward Sheldon’s future and thought the new tower would be a fitting tribute if named in honor of Jacob, his lifelong friend and professional colleague.
During the ceremony, former TPWD Executive Director and current Audubon Board of Directors member Andy Sansom also announced plans for Audubon to raise more than $6 million in additional funds for a new visitor and interpretive center to be built on site at the park.
Once an old fish hatchery facility and Wildlife Management Area, Sheldon Lake State Park today is a 2,800- acre preserve, lake and Environmental Learning Center located only 15 miles from the downtown Houston skyline, and serves a unique mission to nearby urban residents, attracting more than 60,000 people each year (including some 4,000 students from surrounding inner city and suburban schools) to its facilities, fishing ponds and restored wetlands and tallgrass prairies.
For more information, contact the park at (281) 456-2800.