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Community Development Forum

DALLAS – Trinity Park Conservancy hosted a panel discussion on community development in partnership with West Dallas 1. Also discussed were ideas related to improved access and connectivity to Harold Simmons Park, the 250-acre park between the Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge and the Margaret McDermott Bridge. This is part of a series of community planning and development studies conducted by the Conservancy to develop a collective vision for how the Park will connect to, enhance, and support surrounding neighborhoods and the city as a whole. The panel of experts presented various viewpoints and experiences, then answered questions from the audience.

The Conservancy, which is designing and constructing the Park, expressed the importance that this be a collaborative project with the neighboring communities, one that celebrates existing assets and advances Dallas toward a thriving and ecologically-sound future.

“To achieve this vision, we must go beyond building a park;” said a representative from Trinity Park Conservancy, “We can build our city with new urban connections that overcome the physical and social barriers. We want to celebrate and leverage existing community assets, shifting the balance of power to build with rather than for neighboring communities, while improving access and quality of life.”

The panel supported this vision with insight on local conditions and opportunities to draw on best practices from around the country. Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Partner at HR&A Advisors and one of the panelists, said, “Our cities are unequal places. When done well, big economic development projects and public investments like this park can be transformative, and not affirm existing inequities. It takes a combination of government, advocacy, and philanthropy to make our cities just and dynamic places.”

Several themes came out of the discussion:

  • Enhancing “corridors” into the Park that enable greater access to the Park and improving connectivity between nearby neighborhoods.
  • Leveraging this project to open the discussion on city policies to support existing single-family neighborhoods and preservation of the cultural heritage.
  • Exploring partnerships for equitable economic growth and prosperity for all

“We were excited to participate with this event as the next step in Reimagining not only our River, but our city,” said Raul Reyes, co-founder and President of West Dallas 1. “West Dallas 1 supports the work of Trinity Park Conservancy and looks forward to working with them to continue the conversations with those in our neighborhoods and to collaborate with other residents surrounding the Trinity River as we all work together to build a stronger, more equitable Dallas.”

About West Dallas 1

A coalition of neighborhoods in the 75212 zip code.


Andrea Batista Schlesinger: A Partner at HR&A Advisors, Andrea helps cities diagnose challenges and identify opportunities by translating the ideas of communities and their advocates into meaningful systems change.

Isaac Cohen: A Landscape Designer at Studio Outside, Isaac has a wealth of knowledge related to Dallas neighborhoods, history, and landscapes. He also brings a decade of experience working on issues related to parks and public, urban spaces.

Darren James: Founder of KAI Enterprises, Darren is an active part of the Dallas community. He serves on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dallas County, the Community Council of Greater Dallas, the Minority Design Professionals Council, Inc., and the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.

Raul Reyes: Co-founder and current president of West Dallas 1, Raul uses his 25 years of experience serving at-risk youth, and their families, to lead a coalition of neighborhoods in the 75212 zip code.

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