Trinity Park Conservancy unveiled new designs for Harold Simmons Park

Trinity Park Conservancy, an organization tasked with overseeing the development of ten thousand acres of the Trinity River Corridor, recently unveiled new designs for Harold Simmons Park.  Southern Dallas Business & Living Magazine had the opportunity to visit with Trinity Park Conservancy’s President and CEO Tony Moore. A respected expert in the parks industry, Moore is passionate about the influence parks have on the socioeconomic and cultural landscape of communities. He enthusiastically shares with us details about the 250-acres of green space coming to downtown Dallas and paints a vivid picture of a haven where nature will unite the people of Dallas.

Tell us a little about yourself. Are you from the Dallas area?
I grew up in Jamaica and later moved to Florida where I attended college at The University of Central Florida. Over the past 30 years, I have held different leadership roles with top park brands including Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Zoo Tampa. Most recently, I served as Executive Director and CEO of the Gathering Place in Tulsa, OK, one of the nation’s top public parks. You could say that I have an affinity for the parks and their impact on the community and their enhancement of our quality of life.

How did you come across this position?
The Trinity Park Conservancy and a committee of its board members conducted a nationwide search to fulfill the role of the Conservancy’s President and CEO. I remain honored to have been chosen for this role, and I am excited to be in a position where I can contribute to the social and economic progress of the Dallas community.

Harold Simmons Park is going to be a wonderful park from the things I’ve heard about the park. That being said, there have also been some rumors about the park displacing businesses and other things. Can you please help clear the air between what’s fact and what’s fiction?
Dallas, like any growing US city, is struggling with the tensions of economic growth and the challenges of gentrification. We have not yet begun the construction of Harold Simmons Park and the communities around the park for quite some time have been dealing with these issues in a very real way. This economic dilemma is much bigger than the anticipation of a park. There are a lot of pre-existing factors at work way before our park gets built. Nevertheless, it would be irresponsible to accept the status quo and not do our part to try and mitigate this issue. We are listening to the community, and working with partners to see what role we can play to have an impact.

Is the park privately funded or publicly?
The Harold Simmons Park is a public/private collaboration with the city of Dallas. The design and construction of this park will be primarily funded through private philanthropy. However,  funding for annual operations and maintenance will come from a collaboration of different sources including civic funding, sponsorships, philanthropic funds, and park-generated revenue.

Where exactly will the park be located?
Harold Simmons Park encompasses 250 acres between the Ronald Kirk Bridge, to the north, and the Margaret McDermott Bridge to the south. This park geography includes 200 acres in the Trinity River floodway and 50 acres of “overlooks”. The Overlooks serve as gateways to the floodway, featuring the Nature Preserve and its rich biodiversity. This mile-long floodway is the very heart of the park showcasing Dallas’s only river.

What are some attributes of the park that will be beneficial to the community?
Harold Simmons Park will be intentional in converting the division of the floodway into a connector, where nature will unite the communities of Dallas. This will be an inclusive and accessible park where everyone feels welcome. Harold Simmons Park will be accessible to our nearby community within walking and biking distance as well as those arriving by car. Harold Simmons Park will unite our communities to nature and each other. The park will enhance the quality of life for our citizens through its provision of conservation, education, and recreation.

Parks are one of the top economic drivers for the urban sustainability of a cityParks are forecasted to enhance the community’s quality of life by encouraging active lifestyles and reduced health costs all the while promoting quality recreation time with family and friends.

As an open-air, outdoor space, Parks improve the community’s mental and physical health while increasing the connections within the community through engagement and interaction. The Harold Simmons Park will strengthen the local economy, create job opportunities, and help Dallas achieve its environmental equity goals.

When thinking of a traditional park, the vision that comes to mind might be a simple, one-acre concrete slab or an enclosed area with mulch, swings, and a barbeque pit that one might see in some neighborhoods. It may even include a jungle gym. However, Harold Simmons Park is not that type of park. Harold Simmons Park will feature 250-acres of green trees and flowers; activities in the overlooks; a beautiful view of downtown Dallas; and a connecting river. Harold Simmons Park is bringing Dallas a one-of-a-kind park experience.

Why is it called Harold Simmons Park?
In 2016, Annette Simmons, the widow of Harold Simmons, made a transformative $50 million commitment to honor her late husband, marking the largest private donation to a city project in Dallas’s history.

Will this be a public or private park?
Harold Simmons Park will be an inclusive public park requiring no admission fees for entrance. All programming, activities, and events will be free and accessible to our guests. However, the Park reserves the right to host private events as a means of revenue generation to offset its operating expenditures.

How much will the park cost to build?
The estimated cost for the design, construction, launch, and endowment of Harold Simmons Park is anticipated to be approximately $325 million.

Will there be a fee to enter the park?
The park will be free for all, including events, activities, and classes.

Who is designing Harold Simmons Park?
The designer of Harold Simmons Park is, world-renowned landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. The Park buildings will be designed by Lake|Flato Architect, and restoration of an existing industrial shed will be repurposed by Wernerfield Architect.

Will the community have input on the design?
Community input is essential in building a park for everyone. Our community engagement is comprehensive and began years ago and involves input from a wide range of community residents and stakeholders.


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