Bitter Vote Over Second Dallas Deck Park Location

Dallas Zoo location chosen for park over I-35E

In a divided vote Wednesday, Dallas city leaders approved a Dallas Zoo location for the city's second freeway deck park.

It will bridge the Interstate 35E R.L. Thornton Freeway between Ewing and Marsailis avenues in front of the zoo.

City Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold, who represents the neighborhood around the zoo, requested a delay until August for more community input. Arnold attacked North Dallas Councilman Lee Kleinman, the leader of a City Council committee that endorsed the zoo location last month.

Kleinman spoke in favor of the zoo location again Wednesday.

"The neighborhood was engaged on a number of times," Kleinman said.

Arnold favors an Overton Road location where she believes the deck park is needed more.

"I am insulted to say the least, that you would sit here as a council member for District 11 and speak on behalf of District 4. I'm insulted. My community is insulted," Arnold said.

Councilman Rickey Callahan supported the delay and questioned the cost of the proposed park.

"I just question candidly the affordability of the thing," Callahan said. "It's too expensive, number one."

The zoo location would require more than $70 million than the city has available. The Overton Road location that Arnold prefers would cost less than the city has earmarked.

The delay was rejected and the zoo location approved by 9 to 6 votes.

Supporters believe the zoo deck park may spur development around it and become an attraction similar to the city's first deck park, Klyde Warren Park, over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown.

City Councilman Scott Griggs represents an Oak Cliff district just west of the zoo. He said the deck park in that location has been a neighborhood goal for several years.

"We've got just the great privilege of taking this last half step," Griggs said. "This is a project that has been driven by the citizens of Dallas, climbing this impossible mountain to get to the top."

The Texas Department of Transportation requested a location decision from the city by September to plan for future construction of deck park supports in a reconstruction of I-35E R.L. Thornton Freeway, known as The Southern Gateway project. It will be years before the park is actually constructed.

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