Council Not Playing With Full Deck Park

A very lovely artist's rendering of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway Deck Park

When those financial geniuses on the Dallas City Council committed us to building a $67.7 million “deck park” over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, they promised us the city’s share would never be more than $20 million. The rest was to be paid for by state funds and by a private foundation made up of businesses, most of whom have buildings along or near Woodall that stand to benefit.

Specifically the council vowed that the private businesses pushing for the park, “shall raise and deposit with the City their share of the costs of each Phase prior to the start of construction of the respective Phase.”

Oh, yeah. They’re gonna be tough, our council members, because they have to watch over our purse strings, don’t you know. Well, now, of course, when every body’s worried about living under a bridge and money is tough to come by, the businesses would rather not pony up. But they still want their deck park to enhance their property values.

So guess what the geniuses are going to do at today’s council meeting.

According to the agenda, the geniuses are going to allow the businesses to blow their first big payment date and put down three hundred grand instead of the $2.605 million they were supposed to contribute. But, so as not to embarrass them, the council is going to try to hide all of this from us, the noble taxpayers.

Originally the language for today’s little amenderoony of the agreement said the purpose was to delete a sentence in the original agreement which read, “Prior to the award of Phases I and II contracts by the city, the Woodall Rodgers Freeway Foundation shall raise and deposit with the city $2.605 million to cover its portion of the construction costs of Phases I and II.”

Then the original version went on to substitute a new sentence saying the businesses only had to put in 300 grand. Well, you know, if people saw that, they might be mad. They might think, “Hey, times suck. Why is this the time to put the taxpayer even farther out on the limb for a loony deck park? Why not stick to the deal? Put up your $2.605 mil or take a tater and wait.”

But the council wouldn’t want the taxpayers to be mad at them. So, guess what. Today’s item, buried deep in the addenda to the agenda, doesn’t tell the taxpayers how much the businesses were supposed to pay originally. Somebody has re-written the proposed amendment, taking out the references to the $2.605 million.

Now it says the amendment “includes deleting the entire fifth sentence of Section 2.2” of the original agreement. But it doesn’t say what the entire fifth sentence of Section 2.2. said.

I’ll tell you what it said. It said these guys were supposed to pony up $2.605 million or the deal was stopped until they did.

So, look, because we’ve outed this thing here on Unfair Park this morning, somebody today will have a big long story about why it’s a great idea to let the businesses be deadbeats and miss their payment. Fine. We actually have a lot of sympathy for deadbeats here. You might even call it a deep personal empathy.

But ask them this. Why did they want to change the language of the amendment so that the taxpayers -- the people who will have to step in and risk this money instead -- couldn’t see how much money the businesses were beating us out of? Why hide the ball if you’re not worried that what you’re doing is dishonest?

Asked and answered. --Jim Schutze