On October 17th, 2017 I wrote a blog post about the Armory and Central Park. I made a promise at the time:
“I will work with staff, council and stakeholders to try and address noise, drainage, park cleanliness, sound and sight buffers, and park programming in a way that lets our residents know that their voices are still heard. I will do everything I can to make the absolute best of this project, and I sincerely hope that we bring a strong, successful pair of amenities to Central Park that the neighbors can be proud of.”
On Wednesday night, that promise was fulfilled by my presentation to the Parks and Recreation Board.
Thanks to a tremendous effort from the surrounding neighborhood associations, parks staff, city management, council members, neighborhood leaders, candidates for office, and non-profit organizations, we have a plan for building both a Dog and Skate park at Central Park that satisfies the concerns of the community while bringing a pair of first class amenities to the heart of the Garland Parks system.
To get from the events of October 2017 to the events of today, we took a long but productive path.
The process to create these planned amenities was straightforward and thorough:
• We started with a basic concept- a dog park and a skate park, with central park as a general location that was approved by council in late 2017
• We engaged stakeholders in the neighborhood
• We reviewed every minute of both council meetings and neighborhood engaged and compiled a list of concerns and ideas.
• We worked through a number of possible iterations of placement and features
• We presented the ideas to staff for a technical review, and went through a number of additional iterations
• The concept plans were presented to neighbors of the park for a final review
• The concept plans were presented to the Parks and Recreation board.
• I’ve now requested that the item be placed on the City Council’s 4/16/18 work session agenda for discussion and consensus on how we want to move forward as a group.
Feedback and Concept Improvements
The skate park issues that were raised were:
• Hours of Operation
• Proximity to DART
• Popularity of the Amenity
We’ve corrected for those issues by:
• Doubling the distance away from the nearest home.
• Making the skate park a natural extension of the Recreation center by proximity. This makes it easier to program and gives staff easy line of sight.
• Staff will need to lock and unlock the skate park each day. Skate park hours will mirror rec center hours. One possible item for reconsideration is holiday use and hours.
• The facility will be about 800 feet away from the nearest DART stop on Avenue D. This is half the distance of the original site.
• If we program this site, it will help us out. Skateboarding is coming to the next summer Olympics. I feel good about amenity use.
The dog park issues that were raised were:
• Stray pets
• Ball field / Amenity destruction
We’ve corrected for those issues by:
• Increasing the distance away from the nearest home
• Statistically, we’ll see a few pets abandoned overnight each year. Operational: Animal control should make a stop there first thing in the morning each day.
• No ball fields were harmed in the making of this dog park.
• We should work with our design firm to give the maximum amount of park possible within the allotted budget. If an appropriate vendor is available, a design-build contract would allow us to contain costs and make the best use of taxpayer dollars.
Our city’s amenities and parks are something that are key to building up our quality of life and improving our sense of community. Every person and organization that has been involved to make this a successful process should feel proud of what we all have accomplished together. We still have a little further before we get this project over the goal line, but I have faith in our citizens and in our leaders to find the best possible way to get the job done.
The Dallas Morning News article on this project is here: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/garland/2018/04/05/garland-dog-skate-parks-one-step-closer-after-board-oks-new-proposed-locations-central-park