More than a few Friends of Unfair Park have asked privately and in the comments of yesterday's Main Street Garden sneak peek how the city expects to deal with the homeless. So happens, that was one thing Willis Winters and I discussed toward the end of our tour (along with the state of future park programs scheduled for downtown). So, then, his answer:
DowntownDallas's Safety Patrol Officers will keep watch over the park, as will Dallas Police officers; there will also be six security cameras perched above Main Street Garden. But Winters says he really doesn't expect the park to be a magnet for the homeless: "Homeless people don't like to congregate where there's a lot of activity, and we think there are so many things going on in the park -- the dog run, the tot lot, the cafe, the garden shelter, the students from the University of Texas law school going into the old Municipal Building -- and the trends suggest they probably won't be hanging out."
He says the homeless will "absolutely not" be asked the leave the park: "So long as they obey park rules, as we ask everyone to do," he says, "they're welcome to be here."
Jump for news about the other downtown parks, but mind the construction.
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Main Street Garden is but the first of several downtown parks to open, with Belo Garden the next to follow in 2011, should all go according to plan. But, as we noted last month, there's the not-insignificant issue of soil contamination to deal with. Says Winters, "We'll start remediation next year and turn it over for construction in July or August of next year." About a year after Belo Garden's debut is when the Woodall Rodgers deck park is slated to open.
Then there's Pacific Park. The city owns about 60 percent of the land, but as we mentioned in September, members of the Cockrell family -- heirs of Dallas's earliest settlers -- aren't eager to turn over to the city the rest of the property needed for the park, which the city appears all but ready to seize if they don't want the $2.5 million. Still, there's no rush.
Pacific Park is the "the only park we don't have money to build," Winters says. "That will come either in next bond program. Or, if a developer wants to step forward and build underground parking, which is a gooo combination for a surface park, we'll work a deal with them -- maybe get a park for free in exchange for subsurface parking lots."
And then ... there's Carpenter Plaza on the east side of downtown, which will be part of the reconfigured Central Expressway (or Central Boulevard, as it's now known) project. That'll be three contiguous acres as opposed to three separate chopped-up blocks featuring a rusty wall. Finally.