Park in the works for Dallas' Trinity River reveals new location
A major park long in the works for Dallas has shifted its location to a more stable setting: Harold Simmons Park, the 250-acre park centered around the Trinity River, will now be situated on a parcel of land that's west of the floodway.
The park, which was first announced in 2016 with a $50 million gift from Annette Simmons, widow of Dallas businessman Harold Simmons, has expanded from a 200-acre park within the floodway, stretching from the Ronald Kirk Bridge to the Margaret McDermott Bridge, to a 250-acre park which includes overlook parks and development within the floodway.
A new rendering on the park's website shows the park jutting out on the west side of the river, south of the Union Pacific train route and north of the Commerce Street bridge.
Harold Simmons Park, outside the levees.dallas.culturemap.com
A panel on December 4 hosted by The Trinity Park Conservancy, the organization bringing the park to life, introduced the new plan, with comments from CEO Tony Moore; landscape designers Matthew Urbanski and Elizabeth Silver of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc (MVVA); park architect Ted Flato from Lake|Flato Architects, and Oak Cliff community leader Pastor Vincent Parker, from Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church. Moderator was Veronica Torres Hazley
The park was described as being "located in the center of Dallas, with a river in the center of the park" - an urban recreational park that would provide an outdoor green space, with attention to conservation and sustainability, and one that is free. (Although the current cost to build it is estimated to be $325 million, up from the originally estimated $200 million, and with $130 million currently pledged, according to a subscription-only story in the DMN.)
Moore said the park would break ground in 2024.
He cited some financing opportunities, including rental income from a 300-seat structure being designed by Lake Flato that would boast skyline views, as well as partnerships that might include a hotel or other brands.
"Harold Simmons will not have an admission price," Moore said. "It's going to be a free park, thanks to donors including Harold Simmons and Annette Simmons who provided the foundation of $50 million. But after the park gets built, it's critical that we have funding for operations and maintenance, to endure it will continue to run and not just at the opening."
Flato spoke to the sustainability element, listing features like solar collectors, porches, and natural daylight, with comfortable spaces that can provide for activities but also a place to be quiet.
Active elements include two acres of bike and skate parks, a roller-skating rink, courts for various sports, and six "play towers" with different themes, plus a cable ferry where kids can pull themselves along.
Programmed activities will include concerts, festivals, and educational classrooms, geared towards families, designed for a range of audiences from communities both near the park and across the city.
Matthew Urbanski from MVVA said that their goal was to make it a place that was easy to understand and use.
"Can people go there and enjoy themselves all day?" he said, describing a picnic area with a shed structure and grills - a family center with play areas and places for kids to go.
"The idea is that it’s like an in-town vacation where you can be there for hours at a time," he said.
"American cities are complex places, lots of people are here, and we need to find places for people to come together," Urbanski said. "The park connects us to the river which has been a divider and can be a joiner - and that has always been the reason why we wanted to do this."