When oil-pipeline mogul Kelcy L. Warren donated undisclosed millions of dollars for the Woodall Rodgers deck park earlier this year, he was given the right to name the 5.2-acre green space after his then-9-year-old son, Klyde.
Warren is chairman of the board of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Equity and chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, which he co-founded in 1996. Companies under his control are involved in the gathering, processing, and transporting of natural gas and natural gas liquids in 18 states.
A native of White Oak, Texas, where he was born in 1956, Warren moved to Dallas after graduating in 1978 from the University of Texas at Arlington with a B.S. degree in engineering.
We asked him via email recently about his interest in the Dallas deck park.
Q: What were the key factors behind your decision to get involved with the park?
KELCY WARREN: Everyone loves a park, so it wasn’t hard to get my attention. However, what impressed me from the start was the vision for what this urban park will bring to the city, which is something we have never had before.
The park would not have happened without the very talented group of business and civic leaders that spearheaded this project. Their commitment to this project from the design stage to now the official opening for all of Dallas to enjoy was amazing.
Q: Why do you think this park will be important to Dallas?
WARREN: I believe the opening of this park is a transforming moment for our city. It will change how people view Dallas. It not only brings Uptown and downtown together; it brings a new element of excitement to the urban lifestyle that is unfolding around us. Dallas now joins the elite list of large cities that have great urban parks that bring diverse communities together in a family setting.
I think this is something we can all be proud of.
Q: I’ve read that you have a great interest in music. I also saw you quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying, “I’m trying to introduce people to our kind of music.” What exactly is “your kind of music”? And why is it so important in your life?
WARREN: I think music is important in our lives because it brings people together—it doesn’t matter what kind of music. Each year in May, there is a small music festival, the Cherokee Creek Music Festival, that is held in Cherokee, Texas. All net proceeds go to children’s charities. The artists who play at the festival are a good reflection of my personal taste in music.
Q: What sorts of music and musical activities would you like to see in the park?
WARREN: It’s important to me that everyone has access to the music and activities in the park. Music brings people together, and I see the park as the perfect venue for this.
In terms of what sort of music and musical activities I would like to see in the park, the good news is there are so many amazing artists that many people never get to enjoy. My hope for the park is to help introduce some of these talented musicians to the visitors.
Q: Speculation in the press has put your donation to the park at around $10 million. Is that a good ballpark estimate?
WARREN: I keep information on my donations confidential.
Q: Speaking about your park donation, you were quoted as saying that you “have a responsibility” to give back. Why is that, though? Some people think creating jobs and value for shareholders in a company is giving back.
WARREN: I couldn’t agree more. However, I have lived in Dallas for many years. The Dallas area is where I have worked, made lifelong friendships, received my college education, and I am now raising my son. I believe the park will be a really good thing for Dallas. It feels good to do something for Dallas, a city that has done so much for me.
Q: I understand you are hesitant to talk much about your son. But, out in the community, I have heard much speculation about him and his interests and his role with the park going forward. Can you tell me, as much as you’re comfortable with, about Klyde, and about the role the park might play in his development?
WARREN: I have been blessed with a truly wonderful son who I hope will love this city just as I do. I believe his name being associated with the park, and vice versa, will ultimately prove to be good for both.
Q: What role will you personally play in connection with the park once it’s open, and in future years?
WARREN: Good question. I am not sure at this point. I am very dedicated to my work, and do not see that changing in the foreseeable future. Because of that, I have very limited time to spare outside my family and my work.
The talented group of business and civic leaders who are guiding this effort forward are some of the best that Dallas has to offer. They have been kind enough to ask my opinion on a few things, mostly involving park activities.
I love music. Music makes the world a better place.