Monday, March 23, 2015

With push from Angela Hunt, designer looks to detour Trinity River toll road back to park

And not this either. But it's closer. A little.












Six years ago — my, how time crawls — then-Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt pitched what she called the Trinity River Corridor Project Plan B, which involved forgetting all about the Trinity River toll road and moving ahead with, among other things, the long-approved park between the levees. Little has changed since then: We’re still arguing about the merits of the toll road, while the park remains parked (for the most part) save for the Trinity Skyline Trail that Hunt and Scott Griggs had to fight for even after getting the council’s OK.

Which is why graphic designer Robbie Good just launched what he’s calling the Trinity Park Collaborative, an idea hatched following a sitdown last week with Hunt about the potential for filling in the greenspace between the levees.

At the moment it’s little more than a website and a fledgling Twitter account and a Facebook page. But Good says he hopes the endeavor winds up serving as a “a community liaison for existing Trinity groups” and neighborhoods near the Trinity, from the Design District to La Bajada in West Dallas to the Cedars to South Dallas.

“The toll road and park are at odds,” says Good. “You can’t have a great park with a toll road. You just can’t. Anybody who has any imagination can look into the floodplain and see that. It’s depressing what it’ll to do the value of the park, the experience of the park. And to see what Houston has done with the Buffalo Bayou is a huge slap in the face. It’s like they’re trying to insult us with that: ‘Wow, we can’t get our stuff together on this.’”

Technically Hunt’s not involved with the collaborative — technically. But the woman who fought harder than anyone to kill the road in 2007 says today that she “absolutely want[s] to be involved in creating the Trinity park voters have wanted since 1998.”

Says the former council member, “I love the idea of letting folks know the people who are opposed to this toll road are opposed not simply because they believe a high-speed, limited-access massive toll road is a bad idea from a transportation perspective. It’s about being for the park. It’s having a vision for Dallas that includes this incredible greenspace in the heart of our city. And it’s a vision of protecting this for generations to come.”

In its brief anti-toll road statement released just yesterday, the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects said it “supports a great Trinity Park as essential to the future health and prosperity of Dallas.” A road, said AIA Dallas, would ruin any chance of that. The AIA Dallas elaborated further in a lengthy explainer posted to its website, which says, in part, that “building yet another 1950’s super-highway through our great Trinity Park for the benefit of expeditious passage through our city and to further facilitate the export of jobs and citizens to the suburbs will be detrimental to the citizenry and well-being of Dallas.”

Says AIA Dallas, a Trinity park will do for West Dallas what Klyde Warren Park did for Uptown: “become a driver of economic development.” Klyde Warren “isn’t successful because of the highway,” Good says. “It’s successful because of the park.”

Good imagines a simple, inexpensive park — the same one Hunt has talked about for years … and years — that serves to connect east and west.

“I love the idea of pulling together information and ideas and asking the citizens of Dallas for their ideas about what they want to see in a Trinity park — aside from creepy jugglers,” Hunt says, referring to the very-unfunded $76 million proposal Trinity Trust Director Gail Thomas took to the council in October.

The Trinity Skyline Trail has served as “an introduction to the Trinity River,” says Hunt, and it’s time to move beyond the initial how-do-ya-do. “So often people who have never been down there, who only know the Trinity River from driving across the bridges, so often those folks have no understanding about a great park along the river. I put myself among these folks. It’s not until you go down there and go between the levees and see this incredible greenspace and trees and river and wild life, it’s not until you do that do you understand what an incredible jewel this is and what’s at stake if we build a toll road and ruin it. To me the trail was important to get people to enjoy this great and beautiful piece of the city hidden in plain sight.”

Robert Wilonsky, The Dallas Morning News