Vacant City Land Could Be Parks, Mayor Says


The nearly 2,000-acre White Rock Lake Park is one of the most popular in Dallas, according to city officials. | Image by For the Love of the Lake, Community Impact

Vacant and unused land in the City of Dallas could be turned into parks by the mayor and other city officials.

Mayor Eric Johnson sent a memo on November 28 to City Manager T.C. Broadnax requesting an inventory of vacant land that could be turned into public spaces, Community Impact reported

In the memo, Johnson explained why the new Dallas project was worth the time and attention. 

“Growing up in West Dallas and Oak Cliff, my family relied on our city’s parks, trails, playgrounds, recreation centers, and aquatics facilities to get some fresh air, to stretch our legs, and just to relax.”

The mayor added, “It was in these greenspaces that I experienced nature, learned about the natural world, learned how to swim, and built lifelong connections with my community.” 

Johnson asked for specific information on the land included in the inventory. He wanted to know the size of the land, current zoning, the fair market value, the current use, any City plans for the land, and how long Dallas has owned it. 

“Creating new public spaces out of land we already own can improve the health and quality of life of countless residents, children, and families across Dallas,” Johnson said. “We must be proactive, and we must be bold. We are dreamers, not speculators. We must also be a city of doers, not perpetual planners.”

Johnson spoke with KERA News on December 5 and shared that Broadnax approved the request. 

During his November 15 State of the City address, Johnson said he wanted park expansion to be a priority for the 2024 $1 billion bond package. 

The assistant director for the Dallas Park and Recreation Department, Ryan O’Connor, told KERA News the city has worked with the Texas Trees Foundation, TPL, school districts, and similar groups to expand public spaces closer to the communities that have gone without them. 

O’Connor said, “The resident expectation is that there is now a fully functional park that is close to where they live, where previously there wasn’t.” 

In recent years, Dallas has become one of the country’s leaders in creating green spaces, according to the mayor. For example, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) brought trails and parks within ten minutes of almost 300,000 city residents. 

The Trust for Public Land’s Texas state director, Robert Kent, said public spaces in Dallas have grown since 2014. 

In 2014, 58% of Dallas residents lived within a ten-minute walk of a city park, according to KERA News. At the moment, around 73% of city residents live close to green spaces or public parks. 

Kent shared multiple types of land can be transformed into parks. 

“Whether that is a property that is currently being used for stormwater detention, or whether it is surplus property in the land bank, all these things could end up being great places for people to enjoy spending time outdoors,” he told KERA News. 

O’Connor and Kent plan to discuss the inventory results this month. 

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Concerned Voter
Concerned Voter
1 month ago

Mr. Mayor, you also need to assess where the vacant land is located and how many parks already serve that area. Park density. Go to a park in a suburb and see a well maintained space where families can actually enjoy themselves. For the most part, unless a Dallas park is in the Central Business District, not the same experience. Be proud of what the city already has before looking to create more infrastructure the city will not maintain to acceptable standards.

1 month ago

I agree with the Mayor. We need more parks and if we own the land it needs to be turned into parks. I also agree that we don’t need a committee to discuss this for the next ten years. Just get it done. An example-White Rock Lake needs to be dredged. Its been done in the past and needs it again and we don’t need a committee to discuss it for the next ten years. Just get it done. Dallas is big on doing studies and wastes more money on the studies when they could have spent the money on the project.