A greenbelt plan for the 5 Mile Creek watershed in Southern Dallas could transform the mostly hidden creek into an attraction with new parks and trails.
Illegal dumping is a problem along much of the scenic waterway now.
A non-profit group called Trust for Public Land is pursuing the project for recreation and beautification, along with Dallas city officials and community leaders.
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"We're thinking about expanding park access. A great way to do it is trails along tributaries. It provides people that access to nature in a close to home way," said Molly Plummer with the Trust for Public Land.
One of the first legs of the plan would be a new park and trail on land near South Oak Cliff High School that students are already using as a cut through path to class. Dozens of tires are dumped on the spot now.
"I don't think that too many communities in the city are faced with this type of environment," said SOC Principal Willie Johnson.
Supporters are asking the City of Dallas to contribute $165,000 toward $680,000 needed for the land along a 5 Mile Creek tributary called Alice Creek. The new park and trail there would be an asset for SOC students and the surrounding community.
"This will be an outdoor classroom providing them opportunities to study the eco-system, put their hands on it," Johnson said. "So it's going to be a grand opportunity for safety as well as educational purposes."
The much larger greenbelt plan could build 23 miles of new trails on up to 350 acres of new park land along the entire 70 miles of 5 Mile Creek watershed with a total cost of nearly $150 million.
The Dallas Park Board endorsed the plan earlier this year but members of a Dallas City Council Committee who reviewed it last month were reluctant about coming up with so much money.
Plummer said supporters intend to get most of the money from state and federal grants, private foundations and corporate donations. Some could come from a future Dallas Public Improvement Bond Referendum.
"We think definitely there's a way to pull it off," Plummer said.
Smaller, individual requests will be made to the City of Dallas for initial phases of the greenbelt plan including the park near SOC High School.
"We know that South Oak Cliff is the diamond in the rough. It's a beautiful community, wonderful topography," said greenbelt supporter Derrick Battie. "We've seen more money spent on less ambitious things. So, we think this is a very worth it investment."
Battie said the project could improve surrounding property values and attract other investment in Southern Dallas.
Supporters intend to have the initial phases of the 5 Mile Creek Greenbelt underway in 2020.