New Plan to Plan Trinity Park Might Actually Be OK

Tuesday, Schutze told you all about why we should be scared because Dallas is taking $1 million in rich-people money from the Trinity Trust to pay for yet another "charrette" to come up with a plan for a park between the Trinity River levees. Letting rich people fund park planning can lead to weird amenities like lethal whitewater traps for kayakers, or worse yet, jugglers and mimes lurking under overpasses, annoying the crap out of everyone.

Nevertheless, the next steps city staff suggested for moving the park forward offer some slim glimmer of hope. Staff told the City Council's transportation committee that the $1 million will be used to research a park that is the "client" of the city and the rest of Trinity development. That's bureaucratic nonsense-speak for "everything that gets planned that is not the park will be built in service of the park." Or, to put it more plainly, the horse goes in front of the cart. If what they suggest is true — and no one has any reason to believe it is — any road built alongside the park will exist to get people to the park. For people who like parks, that would be a step up from the plan pushed by the mayor and others who want to build a big, honking toll road alongside the proposed park. While a high-speed toll road might trap any wandering mimes who wander into the park (good), it would also make getting into the park harder for everyone else (bad).

Dallas City Council Member Sandy Greyson, a longtime foe of the plan to build the big honking toll road between the levees, praised city staff for finally focusing on the park first. She'd been waiting 20 years to see the park get top billing over the road, but maybe that was OK, she said, if that's what it took to get the park right.

Planning for both the park and road — which is again being called a parkway — is set to begin later this year. A parkway committee, including city personnel, local professionals and national experts, will meet monthly to figure out how to best implement the road. Again, city staff says, all of this road-implementing talk will be in service of the park. After those monthly meetings conclude, the idea is for design work to begin. That work would run the winter of 2017. Construction of the road would, under the plan proposed Tuesday, begin in the winter of 2021.

The installation of the park is set to begin with public idea sessions this fall, followed by the charrette over the winter and spring. After the charrette, we'll get more public forums, followed by real design work. The park, if everything goes to plan, will start getting built in 2018.

There's a real, concreteish timeline for this thing now. We've attached a PowerPoint presentation explaining it — because being on the Internet means we don't have to pay for paper and ink — but it includes phrases like "progressing the park."

Trinity Parkway and Park Progress Report 091515

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.
Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young