A new park opened in Downtown Dallas over the weekend that is mammoth both in size and in theme.
The 4-acre Harwood Park officially launched with a grand opening held at 9 a.m. on Saturday with Mayor Eric Johnson and Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy leaders Amy Meadows and Robert Decherd.
“What was once parking lots and vacant buildings have been transformed into a four-acre green space,” said Johnson. He described the park as a “sanctuary” in the heart of Dallas and thanked those “who labored under the hot Texas sun” to bring the project to fruition.
Harwood Park’s playground equipment is in the guise of large mammoths.
“The design of Harwood Park tells a story that spans the last 100,000 years: from grazing ground of prehistoric Mammoths to the former tributary of the Trinity River; from a residential neighborhood, to automobile service and then film industry, to its present role as a contemporary mixed-use neighborhood for downtown living,” said Christine Ten Eyck.
Eyck served as the designer and project lead for Harwood Park, which also has pickleball courts and a splash pad.
Harwood is the fourth and last park to come out of a partnership between the Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy and the City of Dallas. The first three were Pacific Plaza, West End Square, and Carpenter parks.
“It is truly a milestone occasion,” Meadows said.
Public parks now make up 15% of Downtown, according to the City’s Park and Recreation Board President Arun Agarwal.
Parks have been one of Mayor Johnson’s top three priorities, along with public safety and property tax reform.
In his Sunday newsletter, Johnson described Harwood Park as a “must-visit, innovative green space located in the heart of downtown.”
“Dallas has become a national model for excellence in developing innovative green spaces like Harwood Park, and I could not be more excited about the direction this city is going in terms of increasing access to parks, trails, and other green spaces,” he continued.
“A vibrant park system creates opportunities for kids and families like mine growing up — those without big backyards or swimming pools or private country club or gym memberships — to experience a decent quality of life.”
Johnson, who announced that he was switching parties last week to become a Republican, said his administration will continue to prioritize new parks and greenspaces for Dallas residents.
In August, Johnson launched the Dallas Parks Coalition to support public parks throughout Dallas.
“Parks are what I consider to be critical infrastructure in a modern city,” he said, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
Public parks have also been linked to the advancement of public health.
“Specifically, parks … [o]ffer opportunities for physical activity which help to increase fitness and lower levels of obesity,” explains a post published by the National Recreation and Park Association written by Clement Lau of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Furthermore, parks enable city residents to connect with nature and improve their mental health, according to Lau.
However, more than 25% of Dallas residents do not have a park or trail within a 10-minute walk of their home, per Dallas Innovates.