Dallas supporters celebrated Monday the start of construction for a new downtown park.
The park will be constructed on a deck over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, bridging the gap between downtown and uptown Dallas.
“It will connect important parts of our community that haven’t been connected,” said Mayor Tom Leppert.
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The $77 million needed to build the park was raised by a partnership of Dallas business leaders and public officials. The money includes private contributions and federal stimulus funds.
U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson helped secure the federal money.
“People are ready to make our city more beautiful and more useful,” Johnson said about the partnership with private donors. “I’m very proud of my city for its can-do spirit.”
The celebration included students from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, located in the Dallas Arts District, adjacent to the park. A performance stage is part of the park plan.
“It’s going to be an incredible place for people to gather, for people to seek green space, in a sea of what can be mile after mile of concrete,” said Dallas Councilmember Angela Hunt.
The celebration was held in a vacant first floor retail space of the recently completed Parkside Condominium building along Woodall Rodgers at Harwood Street.
The building might not have been constructed if not for the park plans and city leaders expect the park to attract more private development in the area to boost the city’s tax roll.
“People are going to come here, this park is going to attract new investment, and that’s going to benefit everybody,” Leppert said.
Voters approved another downtown park along the Trinity River in 1998. But many regulatory complications with the Trinity River project have delayed construction of that park and a start date is still several years away.
City officials still insist the Trinity River Park will also be built.
“It’s easy to say no, great cities are made by saying yes,” said Leppert.
The Woodall Rodgers Deck Park has moved from proposal to construction in just five years and could be ready for visitors in 2011 and concerts in 2012.
“People said yes, and today we’re going forward. Same thing will happen at the Trinity,” Leppert said.