A new addition is coming to Dallas. By early 2023, residents can expect to see the construction of Southern Gateway Park in the works.
Southern Gateway Park is a deck park will reconnect parts of Oak Cliff previously severed by the interstate’s original construction in the 1950s, its website explains, making it “a park with a purpose.”
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is currently widening the highway along southbound I-35E. The expansion is expected to finish by the end of 2022, at which point construction of the deck park can begin.
The Dallas Express previously reported that the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation announced in April that it had raised most of the funds needed for the first half of the planned deck park.
Phase I of the park is scheduled to be completed 16 months after construction begins.
Anne Hagan, vice president of strategic initiatives for the nonprofit Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation, told The Dallas Express that the hope is for the park to provide an excellent opportunity for the community to gather, learn and play. The goal is to provide an accessible space that reflects the culture and history of Southern Dallas.
“We are proud that this park was community driven; the first idea for this park came from community members who attended TxDOT’s public meetings regarding the widening of I-35,” she added. “The design of the park, programming ideas, and other park operations continue to be driven by input from community meetings and our Community Advisory Council.”
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, the deck park is partly paid for by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, providing $40 million of taxpayer funds. Another $7 million is coming from a taxpayer-funded Dallas city bond.
Park amenities will cost an additional $35 million, which is still being raised privately by the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation. Several other foundations have donated to the park, including the McDermott Foundation, the Rees Jones Foundation, the Caruth Foundation, and the Rainwater Foundation.
Residents of the Tenth Street Historic District in Oak Cliff previously claimed that the park should not be built using public funds when the city has other needs.
Rosa Medrano told NBC 5 that she would rather see the city deal with issues like the homelessness and vagrancy crisis and rising crime or at least spend taxpayer money on renovating the neighborhood’s historic buildings, which give the area its character.
Patricia Cox, a long-time resident, blasted the highway construction, pointing out that her neighborhood now faces a large overpass wall.
“Just the sight, the way that they’re building it. This is horrible,” Cox told NBC 5. “It has torn it up worse and now it’s like we don’t exist.”
City Councilmember Carolyn King Arnold also has reservations about the deck park: She called it a “wreck park” when speaking with The Dallas Morning News back when the project was first proposed because, according to Arnold, it could “wreck a whole neighborhood.”
She explained at the time that she felt like the deck park could result in “gentrification,” preferring the city to use its taxpayer money to repair the damage and deterioration of existing infrastructure in her neighborhood.