DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The city of Dallas is so pleased with three recent park openings downtown that it is going ahead with an updated Master Plan just for downtown parks.  The parks are a hit.

“I love it. It’s super-close to where I work so it’s nice to be able to get out and have lunch,” says Lauren Hunt, lunching at the Main Street Garden Park.

Her friend, Julie Harris, was equally enthusiastic.  “It’s huge; it’s nice to ignore the buildings and get outside and kind of get back to nature.”

Dallas has also benefited from the new Belo Garden and the Klyde Warren Park situated atop Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

With a downtown population of 8-thousand residents and growing, parks director Willis Winters unveiled a revised Master Plan for downtown parks, its first upgrade in a decade.

Councilmembers embraced it enthusiastically.

“This effort to create more neighborhood parks, these pocket parks, (are) going to bring us light between the buildings, so this is an exciting day for Dallas,” said council member Scott Griggs.

The proposed new parks are sprinkled throughout downtown. Land has already been acquired for Carpenter and Pacific Plazas. Money is available to purchase property near the West End.   Land has also been identified near the Farmers Market but not purchased.

Mayor Mike Rawlings is mindful of needs throughout Dallas but sees this as a win for more than downtown.

“To me this is a central part of growing southern Dallas, and I think these investments are starting to pay off.”

North Dallas members signed off on it, too.

Councilmember Linda Koop echoed the sentiments of others.    “I applaud you, I think this is a terrific, terrific new plan. I do agree Farmers Market should be first up, that’s going to be a remarkable renaissance of that area.”

But the estimated cost is 80-100 million dollars. And there’s no money to buy land near the Farmers Market yet.

Winters thinks more public-private partnerships along with state or federal grants can be done…along with naming rights and some out-of-the-box thinking with developers.

“We’d give them the underground parking rights in exchange for them to pay for and build the park on top of the garage,” he explained.

It’s thought some underused parkland elsewhere might be sold, like the Elgin B. Robinson Park at Lake Ray Hubbard, but there are competing master plans.

According to Winters, “Right now the highest priority for utilizing those funds for revenue from land sale would be for implementing our aquatics system.  We have a master plan for a system of 7-family aquatics centers scattered throughout the city.”

Details on those will be coming up later this spring.

But Dallas is counting on the private sector to step up, like it did at Klyde Warren Park, to make these proposed new parks a reality.

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