City Hall

Dear Rich People: Thanks for the Cash. Please Don't Screw Up the Trinity Park.

Last week without any prior public discussion, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced (see below) he was unilaterally turning over the planning process for the Trinity River Park downtown to philanthropists Rusty and Deedie Rose in exchange for a gift of $1 million. The mayor did say, “We must also continue to include citizens' input in the planning process.” But the way he put it, that part sounded like a really hard homework assignment for him.

But this is Dallas, and, yes, people can buy basic control over something like the design of the new downtown river park, possibly the single most important public works decision the city will make in this half-century, for a million dollars.

I don’t have it — the million bucks. They do. So rather than me bitching and moaning about it forever, I thought maybe I should go ahead and just beg them please on bended knee not to do certain things to the river. Like this:

No badly designed fake whitewater feature for kayakers and canoeists that nobody can paddle through safely because it’s a giant InSinkErator that eats canoes, kayaks and small children alive. Don’t build one, and, if in your ramblings out there you should come across one that somebody has already built, please tear it out.

And please eschew one of these:

No mazes. Mazes are really cool in Iowa cornfields and on English estates, but the topography and summer climate here are ill-suited, plus maybe you should try doing some market research on how many people really want to walk around in a maze on the Trinity River bottoms.

No zip lines. Zip lines are stupid.

And never, ever bring these guys in ... not in the park, not on the streets, not anywhere ever. We're warning you, we have guns.

Also, no jugglers under overpasses. No fortune-tellers or face-painters. The park should feel like be a place of natural serenity, not a fund-raiser for new tennis courts at your kid’s private school.

Massive mechanical interventions in the environment like carcinogenic chemical drenching to eradicate all lifeforms, gigantic aircraft-engine-driven fans or elaborate outdoor mist-cooling systems tend to lessen the bonds to nature a good park should inspire. People who are uncomfortable in the out-of-doors just need to stay indoors and avoid nature, perhaps by having another gin and tonic at the 19th hole.

Speaking of golf — let's not speak of golf. Hard little balls, children. Plus, massive ecological ravaging. And that's just from the tacky clothes.

No dressage, until courts direct otherwise.

No Impressionism. So much has happened since. Let it go.

No silent auctions or other events designed specifically to highlight income disparity.

No Lyle Lovett. See Impressionism above.

09-11-15-MEMO-Trinity Urban Park Planning (Rawlings) (1) by Jim Schutze

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze