Community Planning History

The following is the Executive Summary of the Harold Simmons Park Community Engagement: Community Planning History. To read the full report, click here.

The Harold Simmons Community Engagement Report is comprised of a set of topics that engage a broad range of interest from the public including equity and inclusion, ecology, public health, jobs etc. This report describes research and analysis conducted by the Trinity Park Conservancy (Conservancy) reviewing two decades of community and neighborhood planning for the area surrounding Harold Simmons Park (“the Park”) which is located in and alongside the T rinity River Floodway between the Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge and the Margaret McDermott Bridge.

The Park will connect the Trinity River with West Dallas, Oak Cliff, and Downtown Dallas as a new public gathering place at the heart of the city. The success of the Park is closely tied to the vibrancy of its adjacent neighborhoods and continued use and stewardship from existing residents. The Conservancy is committed to authentic and meaningful community engagement throughout Park development and operations with the goal that Park benefits are enjoyed equitably by surrounding neighborhoods and all Dallas residents.

The Conservancy identified over 100 plans, studies, and policy documents (“plans”) conducted in the neighborhoods near Harold Simmons Park since 1999. Along the way, thousands of community members volunteered their time in workshops, town halls, and listening sessions. The Conservancy seeks to build on these years of insight to help communities advance their goals. This report summarizes the priorities that communities identified for themselves through these plans, as well as implementation progress to date.

The report analyzes eight key plans. Each of these key plans influence current policy, include significant community engagement, and serve neighborhoods that will be impacted b y Harold Simmons Park. For each plan, we describe the priorities identified through community engagement, alignment between community priorities and the plan’s final recommendations, and progress since the plan’s adoption.

This analysis reveals four baseline insights to inform ongoing engagement and planning for the Park:

1. Some communities abutting Harold Simmons Park have participated in a planning and visioning process for their future, while others have not.

2. The quality and depth of community engagement has improved over the past twenty years. Earlier plans engaged fewer individuals, with limited documentation and/or analysis of community insights. Plans conducted within the last five to ten years are more likely to include broad outreach, substantive dialogue, clear synthesis of findings, and alignment between plan recommendations and community priorities.

3. Two decades of planning demonstrate consistent priorities for some communities neighboring Harold Simmons Park, but not in Oak Cliff. West Dallas: Desires to preserve and enhance existing single family neighborhoods with aging homes rehabilitated. Describes new housing that is mixed-income, with new high-quality, high density development that contributes to the creation of new living-wage jobs and access to new services and amenities.

  • Oak Cliff: None of the plans identify clear community priorities for Oak Cliff. However news coverage of public meetings related to the Oak Cliff Gateway rezoning case in 2015, indicates that residents want a walkable, transit-rich community with easy access to downtown. Desired development is dense, mixed-income, and includes a broad mix of housing types.
  • The Bottom: Desires to preserve and enhance existing single family homes with aging homes rehabilitated. Seeks mixed income, mixed-use redevelopment that builds on existing community assets.
  • Greater Downtown: Including neighborhoods such as Uptown, Cedars, and the Design District, is enhancing the urban core with investments in parks, transit and a broad range of housing options. They seek to improve connections between the central business district and other neighborhoods in the urban core.

4. Implementation of community priorities in West Dallas and the Bottom lags behind Greater Downtown and Oak Cliff. In West Dallas, the City and private developers have invested in new high-quality housing and infrastructure improvements. Limited funding has been made available for rehabilitating existing single-family homes, expanding transit access, and providing living wage jobs. In The Bottom, no major investments have been made in infrastructure or in new or rehabilitated housing.

The Conservancy will continue its partnership with its neighboring communities to support their aspirations for Park and community development.

Click here to read the full report.