Friday, November 16, 2007

'Gag me with a toll road'

Dallas conference focuses on Trinity park

November 15, 2007

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2007

Enough with the toll road already.

The Trinity Trust wants to talk about the park.

It’s invited planners, architects and others from around the country to do just that Friday, in a daylong conference at City Hall.

“What we want to do is have a discussion about how we build a beautiful park for the citizens of Dallas,” said Gail Thomas, president of the trust.

“We’re bringing in top minds to talk about how the people of Dallas will experience the Trinity park — what it’s going to look like, how it’s going to feel when you’re down there, when you walk along the edges of the water.”

The Trinity Trust is a nonprofit group that was created to raise private donations to augment public financing for the Trinity project, the city’s $1.7 billion plan to transform the Trinity River Corridor into a showcase park with lakes, trails, promenades, greenbelts and other recreational attractions.

The trust is closely affiliated with another nonprofit group, the Trinity Commons Foundation.

While neither the Trinity Trust nor the Trinity Commons Foundation officially took a public position on the Nov. 6 citywide referendum on the Trinity toll road, the boards of both organizations include many prominent individuals who supported the highway. Some of them campaigned against Proposition 1, the ballot measure that would have killed the toll road, to be built inside the river levees.

Proposition 1 lost at the polls, with 53 percent of voters opposed. Its supporters, led by Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt, wanted the road moved out of the river corridor because they feared it would spoil the downtown park.

Dr. Thomas said she hoped there would be little talk of toll roads at today’s conference, in the City Council Chamber on the sixth floor at City Hall.

“People could just gag on the road, they’re so tired of hearing about it,” she said. “They need to know other things about the Trinity project.

“Let’s think about the park instead — let’s build a beautiful park and make the road fit into it. The toll road will be a guest in our park.”

She said the conference was planned a year ago, long before anyone knew there would be a referendum on the toll road.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert will address the conference at 1:30 p.m., speaking on “The Role of the Trinity in the Region and in the World.”

Others on the program include:

Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, a landscape architect and urban designer with Wallace, Roberts and Todd of Philadelphia, a consultant for the Trinity project. He will present an overview called “Designing the Trinity for 21st Century Dallas.”

Leni Schwendinger of Leni Schwendinger Light Projects Limited of New York City. Ms. Schwendinger, also a consultant for the Trinity project, specializes in lighting installations in public spaces. Her projects include works at Kingston Bridge in Glasgow, Scotland, and Coney Island in Brooklyn. Her talk is titled “Lighting the Riverfront: Magic and Mystery.”

John Todd, a biologist and co-founder of Ocean Arks International in Falmouth, Mass. Dr. Todd is a globally recognized expert in ecologically sensitive water treatment methods. He’ll speak about “Cleaning the River Environmentally: A Model for 21st Century Cities.”

Enrique Norten, founder of TEN Arquitectos, an architectural firm with offices in Mexico City and New York. Mr. Norten, who has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas, the University of Michigan and Harvard University, among others, is working on potential designs for a pedestrian walkway and overlook that would provide access to the Trinity park from downtown via an extended Reunion Boulevard.

About 200 people are expected to attend the Trinity conference, Dr. Thomas said. It begins at 9 a.m. and adjourns at 4 p.m. A panel discussion featuring the day’s speakers will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the offices of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, 2719 Routh St.

The cost for the daylong session is $60, including a continental breakfast and lunch. People may register at the door this morning in the Flag Room outside the Council Chamber.

© 2007 The Dallas Morning News Co

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE