The Southern Gateway Public Green Conceptual Plan was presented to the Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee Monday afternoon, on Sep. 26, 2016.
The Southern Gateway project is a proposal to improve safety and system linkage along Interstate 35E and U.S Highway 67, according to the website provided by the Texas Department of Transportation.
However, the presentation was over a proposed public green deck park, similar to Klyde Warren Park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway, that would be over Interstate 35E near the Dallas Zoo and in between Marsalis Avenue and Ewing Avenue. The deck park would involve two separate city districts, District 1 (West of Interstate 35E) and District 4 (East of Interstate 35E.)
Willis Winters, director of the Park and Recreation Department, lead the presentation over the proposed Southern Gateway deck park.
Winters went through a slideshow that was a result of the first public meeting that was held on Aug. 30 at the Dallas Zoo. The slideshow presented the various requests from those who attended. Conceptual designs were rendered by the Offices of James Burnett, the landscape architecture firm in control of the designs and who also designed Klyde Warren Park.
The comments from the first public meeting are a “very rough, quick, high-level ideas that came out of the programming and input meeting,” Winters said.
Once Winters finished the slideshow presentation District 3 Councilmember, Casey Thomas II, commended Winters and his team in terms of reaching and gaining positive public engagement. Councilmember Thomas also commented on how he was excited for the residents and what the deck park could bring to them.
“To see a visual of what this could [be] and potentially look like will be really exciting for the residents of Oak Cliff, but most importantly to the children of Oak Cliff,” said District 3 Councilmember Thomas.
On the other hand, District 4 Councilmember Carolyn King-Arnold questioned the concerns her constituents had relating to the whole project. Arnold asked what the difference was between the Gateway and the deck park, and was clarified that the Gateway is a necessity to the community, while the deck park is an amenity, serving two different functions.
“District 4 remains against, as councilwomen voicing the concerns of the immediate neighborhood of which this deck park becomes intrusive if the deck plans go through,” said Councilmember Arnold.
Councilmember Arnold also voiced her concern with the proposed dog park, and the monetary involvement of the real estate investment group Cienda Partners, who own several properties all over North Oak Cliff, for this project and their recent purchase of land near the proposed deck park.
When local resident Berta Veloz was asked about the deck park she hadn’t heard much about it, but she had concerns as to the funding and the surrounding infrastructure in both districts.
“I do think that the park would be attractive and really nice, but I feel really uneasy about it,” Veloz said. “There are so many other issues to worry about besides building a nice park.”