He Made This Dallas Put Its Money Where Its Parks Are, But Now This Native Son Is Leaving City Hall

The president of Dallas' Park Board resigned Wednesday. His name is Bobby Abtahi, a Dallas native. Who you may know from his days running for City Council. Or as a southern Dallas community prosecutor. Or as vice chair of the City Plan Commission. Or from that time the Iranian-American was booted off a Virgin America flight because of what the airline apologetically called a "misunderstanding."Abtahi has only been Park Board president since March 2017. But during his tenure, this city's long-ignored parks system received more affection and attention — and, most important, money — than any time in recent memory."Bobby is so smart, so perceptive," Willis Winters, director of the Park and Recreation Department told me Thursday. "He could go to the crux of the matter in an instant. And politically, he was brilliant."Consider: In early 2017 the city manager's office recommended putting next to nothing for parks in the upcoming bond program — which would have made that yet another bond program that gave short shrift to the historically and woefully underfunded Park and Recreation Department. Abtahi pushed back until they secured $262 million for projects that include downtown parks, the redos of aging rec centers, the expansion of the city's trail system and acquisition of land for neighborhood parks. That $262 million leveraged an additional $159 million in matching dollars from the city's public and private partners."What an enormous accomplishment," Park Board member Tim Dickey said.  Continue reading...

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