In 2006, the city of Dallas picked the Dallas-based architecture of Brown Reynolds Watford to design the Texas Horse Park. At the time, plans still called for a massive, $30 million complex complete with a half-mile race track, grandstands, a therapeutic pool, an RV campground, and all sorts of other grand stuff. And that was just Phase I.
The plans have since been scaled back considerably, thanks in large part to the complete and utter failure of the campaign that was supposed to raise $15 million from private donors. The most recent iteration, which calls for the city to pay $12 million to build arenas, stalls, fenced pastures and otherwise develop a site that will primarily be used SMU and a couple of nonprofits, was presented to the City Council last month.
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District 11 Park Board member Lee Kleinman sent the council a letter at the time urging members to oppose the horse park, and he wasn't just speaking for himself. Yesterday, the Park Board considered a proposal to extend the city's agreement with Brown Reynolds Watford -- those initial renderings won't scale themselves back -- and soundly rejected it.
The extension would cost an additional cost of $747,673 in bond funds, bringing the firm's total contract to $4.4 million.
"The general feeling in the group is that the funds could better be used elsewhere," Kleinman said this morning. Specifically, he has his eye on improving the city's anemic aquatic system, which was already outdated and was crippled further by budget cuts during the recession. He has proposed using the money to build two or three modern, year-round aquatic facilities.
The board's vote is merely symbolic. The Park Board reviews the expenditure of any bond funds for parks, but its vote is more of a recommendation than anything. The City Council has the final say, and in this case council members seems intent on salvaging the Texas Horse Park in some form, even if it's a gaunt shadow of its former self.