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Willis Winters Gives Us a Slightly Soggy, Kind of Early Walking Tour of Main Street Garden

Willis Winters, assistant director of the city's Park and Recreation Department, was kind enough to give Unfair Park a tour of the $17-million Main Street Garden this morning -- and by "garden," I mean mud pit and swimmin' hole. Hence, Winters's acknowledgment that, yes, it's quite likely the garden -- the first of several planned downtown parks -- won't be quite ready for its November 13 official debut, especially with more rain in the forecast for week's end.

"The rain is killin' us," says Winters. "We were originally shooting for November 5, and actually there will be quite a bit done by November 5. It will be presentable by November 13. We're trying to prioritize what will be finished right now. There's a slight chance that date will change. But that's due to scheduling, not construction." He's referring to the fact several council members are scheduled to attend the National League of Cities convention in San Antonio that week.

Still, he says, the park's "in good shape" for the November 20 City Lights Christmas-tree lighting ceremony, when DowntownDallas will debut New York-based landscape architect Thomas Balsley's 60-foot-tall tree. (Addison-based Excitement Technologies, which has done work at Cowboys Stadium, is handling the lighting and production, says DowntownDallas's Kourtney Garrett.)

"As you can see, we're trying to work around" the mud and water, Winters says. "All the activity today is on the perimeter, and we're trying to scrape the mud to the center. That's the easiest thing to finish at the last, so now they're just using it as a staging area."

After the jump, Winters walks us through the park's amenities. But first question's first: Will the Lily Pad, the city's first foray into the eat-and-drink business, serve alcohol? "They want to," he says, mentioning beer and wine and the TABC. So, with that out of the way ... jump, but watch the mud.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky