Trinity Park Conservancy seeks input for future of Dallas park

The Trinity Park Conservancy hosted the first event Tuesday in what will be a series of outdoor workshops and meetings to get public input on the organization’s planned downtown park.

Harold Simmons Park will be a 200-acre, privately funded park along the banks of Trinity River, between Maragret Hunt Hill and Maragret McDermott Bridges. It’s an area that the conservancy has high hopes for. That’s why they’re reaching out to the public – because they want it to be one of Dallas’ premier open spaces.

“This should be everybody’s park,” Trinity Park Conservancy CEO Brent Brown said.

There’s currently miles of bike trails that span the area of the future park, but they are seldom used. Dallas residents Daniel Kiser and Isabel Mikhail come to the area several times a week, but notice that others rarely do.

“Most of the time when I bring it up no one knows what I'm talking about,” Mikhail said. “I have to give them the address and tell them specifically how to get down here because it's kind of hidden.”

By hosting outdoor activities like hiking, biking and canoeing, the conservancy hopes it can get the public to see the area's potential.

“We want people to go out and enjoy it and see how much is already here,” Brown said.

The project is estimated to cost up to $200 million. $50 million has been pledged by Annette Simmons, the widow of Harold Simmons, who the park would be named after. The rest would have to be privately funded.

“We’ve got to raise it,” Brown said. “We hope we will get thousands and tens of thousands of gifts, whether it’s a dollar or it’s a million dollars. Everybody’s gift matters.”

Beyond funding, the park will face another challenge: flooding.

While the conservancy says most of the time the river stays in its banks, that’s not always the case. Major flooding has happened in the area, leading to concerns that it may not be suitable to sustain a park.

The organization says it is taking that into account during the design process.

“We know people are a little concerned,” Brown said. [They’re asking] ‘Can you really do it?’ This has been a long time in the works, we've got to earn people's trust, we're going to do that.”

The goal is to have the park complete by 2022.

A list of outdoor activities at the park can be found here.