On June 28, the Dallas City Council approved the 2017 Capital Bond Program. From the construction of brand-new facilities to larger investments in existing infrastructure, this proposal is truly wide-ranging. Its fate will determine whether or not Dallas is able to turn the challenges facing any 21st Century metropolis into unique opportunities for growth and development.
Individual citizens have their own opportunities to seize as well. Each one of us has the power to choose whether or not to support this one billion dollar initiative when we head to the polls on Nov. 7. In anticipation of this important date, it’s worth remembering the many ways these funds will be of benefit to our communities.
Bond dollars will go toward Fair Park and better flood control. They’ll ensure that public safety facilities like firehouses, libraries and Dallas’ outstanding cultural and performing arts spaces, such as The Majestic Theatre, can continue to be maintained. And roughly a quarter of the entire bond allocation has been earmarked for parks and recreation.
Parks contribute to the well-being of urban areas in any number of ways. Their vegetation helps manage storm water runoff and air pollution alike. Their proximity is tied to health savings just as much as it is to upswings in residential property values. Not only do green spaces serve the environment and bolster the economy, but they also connect neighborhoods and promote the public good. Back in 2006, the “Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health” concluded that “green space seems to be more than just a luxury and consequently the development of green space should be allocated a more central position in spatial planning policy.”
Parks also provide multiples opportunities for exercise and entertainment. And, perhaps surprisingly, a growing body of research indicates that access to green space is good for our mental health as well. A recent article published in “Time Magazine” notes that “just about any kind of green space — from hiking trails and coastlines to soccer fields and local parks — can make you happier.” Furthermore, the University of Washington’s Urban Forestry/Urban Greening Research finds that “urban nature, when provided as parks and walkways and incorporated into building design, provides calming and inspiring environments and encourages learning, inquisitiveness and alertness.” The symptoms of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) in children may also be treatable thanks to parks, and “outdoor activities can help alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, dementia, stress and depression.”
Without question, the 2017 Capital Bond Program makes it easier for Dallas residents to take full advantage of the city’s plentiful natural resources. The bond package includes funding for projects like new sidewalks along Garland Road, creating pedestrian thoroughfares surrounding the Arboretum, and a Skate Park at Bachman Lake. It helps fund the completion of the Circuit Trail (also known as “The Loop,” a 50-mile network of walking, hiking and biking paths), not to mention the White Rock Lake, Kleberg and Northhaven Trails. And there’s another $22.4 million for visionary projects such as the transformation of Valley View Center into Midtown Park, as well as repairs, renovations and enhancements to existing neighborhood parks.
Quite literally at the heart of the parks portion of the bond package are three new parks for Downtown Dallas. If the bond measure passes, the City of Dallas will deliver on its pledge to invest $35 million in this venture, which will be augmented by $45 million raised by Parks for Downtown Dallas. All told, Carpenter Park, Harwood Park and West End Plaza will create another 11 acres of smart, sustainable, walkable and more livable space available to all Dallasites.
We will soon have a chance to vote in the interest of public health and safety by supporting the bond initiative and all it means for Dallas’ parks. Before the Special Bond Election on Nov. 7, learn more about all the various park and recreation projects included in the 2017 Capital Bond Program. Every one of Dallas’s 14 City Council Districts stands to benefit from the passage of this measure. And please support Parks for Downtown Dallas in its mission to make sure our great city enjoys access to great parks. Lending support is as easy as liking the organization on Facebook, following it on Twitter or subscribing to its newsletter. Parks for Downtown Dallas will keep you informed on all parks-related issues so that, together, we can ensure a bright — and green — future for our city.