City Hall

The Trinity Dream Team Is Dead. Long Live the Trinity Parkway Advisory Committee.

Slowly, as if it could go any other way, the process that might eventually lead to another process that will end in both the Trinity park and Trinity parkway getting processed is coming into focus. Friday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the names of the six people who will join Dallas City Council member Sandy Greyson and Jere Thompson, the former chairman of the North Texas Tollway Authority, on the advisory committee that will be charged with reconciling the work of the last Trinity committee Rawlings convened, aka the "dream team," with the design work done by the Trinity Parkway Technical Committee.

OK, if you've read this far ... wow ... lots of free time today, huh? Well, lucky you, as a reward to those who hang in here, poor souls, we're going to spice up this latest turn of the Trinity screw with some entertaining quotes about committees. Like this one: "The optimum committee has no members."
There are big names all over this thing, including a former mayor, Ron Kirk, and former County Judge Lee Jackson. Thompson named both of them to the committee, and both have been stalwart supporters of the big honking version of the Trinity toll road. Thompson's last designee, Mary Ceverha, is the founder and former president of the Trinity Commons Foundation. Greyson went with former City Council member Angela Hunt, Texas State Representative Rafael Anchia and Robert MeckFessel, the former president of the American Institute of Architects Dallas. All three of Greyson's nominees are, like Greyson herself, against anything beyond a meandering, low-speed road that's chief purpose is to get people into and out of the still-to-be-built Trinity park.

To sum up, this appears to be a committee comprising equal numbers of people who have spent years studying the issue and still fundamentally disagree on the goal of the project.

"Committee: a group of men who individually can do nothing but, as a group, decide that nothing can be done."
"I think the real question is whether a park access road is compatible with a major regional transportation facility," Hunt says. "I think that's the question we're going to explore. We saw the [dream team] plan that was produced in April. There were many of us who were hopeful that the council would adopt the major features of that: a four-lane, low-speed, meandering park access road and limit any road in the floodway to that, but the council rejected that. Now I think we really need to see if the [dream team] plan and the vision the public has for a park access road are compatible [with the ideas the technical committee will draw up]."

"A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee."
We asked Hunt why she wants to take part in a process that has largely been disappointing to those who have a park-first vision. She says she just wants to make sure her voice and the voices of those with similar ideas are heard.

"People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything."
"I have been and am very skeptical about the process but, for me, one of the things about participating in this is that I want to understand the reason behind this road. If we're going to compare whether a park-access road is compatible with a [larger road] we first have to understand 'What is the purpose of this road?," Hunt says. "What is its justification, because that's changed. ... What's interesting to me is that, over the last three years, we've seen each and every one of those justifications fall by the wayside."

"If Columbus had an advisory committee, he would probably still be at the dock."
Philip Kingston, one of the leading voices against the high-speed version of the road on the City Council, was not given a spot on the committee, despite asking for one. Still, he says he hopes the committee will be given enough power to be successful.
"A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled."
"If the committee is given legitimate oversight authority to protect the park, then this could be a very good process. The mayor is trying to limit the scope of work of the committee to only making sure that the plan going forward matches up with what [the dream team] presented. If that's the limitation then this thing is worthless," Kingston says.
"If you see a snake, just kill it. Don't appoint a committee on snakes."
The first batch of advisory committee findings is due at the end of February.
"A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour."

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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