Dallas Needs A Park. It Also Needs a Floodplain

Trinity River Near Downtown Dallas

Compared to other cities, Dallas needs more parks. The city has its eyes set on a huge swath of land just south of downtown that’s home to the usually meandering stream with a big name, the Trinity River. If built, the park would rival New York’s Central Park.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Sidewalk in Trinity River Floodplain


The land has not thus far been used because it is a floodplain that keeps the water from spilling into the city when the Trinity becomes mighty. That has happened several times just in the past year.

While it may be possible to construct a natural park that won’t be damaged that much by flooding, making it a park that is expected to flood has other consequences. A park is not just a place for jogging trails and meandering. Do a search for events in Central Park and you’ll see what I mean. A good urban park is filled with planned activities that would need to be relocated, cancelled or postponed in the event of flooding. Good urban parks also have amenities that could not be made to withstand occasional flooding.


There’s another problem with the park, a lack of population density surrounding it. Sure, overtime apartment buildings could be built to replace the light-industrial uses, but even then entering the park won’t be easy. Large walls of earth- levees make it impossible for easy integration between city and park as exists in Central Park or San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Discussion of the park has been ongoing for as many as 30 years. The cost is estimated at as much as $270 million, and I’m assuming that’s in addition to what has already been spent.

I’m not a huge fan of eminent domain, but park-building is a legitimate use for it. Building a large park in a place where it can be developed properly and be used to enhance the quality of life for residents would be a better way to spend this money, and provide a sustainable asset for the city.

Flooding seen from Continental Pedestrian Bridge

It seems there may be enough land to locate such a park North of Downtown and Deep Ellum, east of Central Expressway and West of Ross Avenue between Downtown, West Village and Lower Greenville. A centrally located park could aid development and truly become a park with the potential to rival the most-loved parks in America.

For these reasons, the potential for a large and functional urban park just doesn’t exist in the Trinity River floodplain.

About Eric Miller

Rick and I started this web magazine as The New Colonist back in 1999. I was in San Francisco, and he was in Los Angeles. We had a common interest in sustainability and city life. We're still at it. Today I am happy to have lived in both New York, San Francisco and Pittsburgh and to now reside in Dallas. Find more at ericmiller.me