The Sad, Sorry Story of the Texas Horse Park

In the Dallas Observer, Eric Nicholson tries to wrap his head around the horse park, a project that began as a modest place to shelter horses, grew into a blow-out boondoggle effort to create a “world class” (that damned word!) equestrian center, and has now settled into its reality as a sort of seemingly useless non-profit run by a man who is accused of animal abuse.

There are few stories involving the Trinity River Project that don’t seem sad and sorry these days. Some bright spots include the Continental Bridge pedestrian plaza, which is, honestly, a lot more successful than I thought it would be, thanks to the way the adjacent La Bajada neighborhood has embraced the space. Then there are the paths that were finally built in the flood plain. Those are pretty great, and they drive home the point that all the Trinity River Project ever needed to be was a way to better access and utilize the river. Lakes? River bends? Water taxis? Yeah, sure, I guess that could be cool. But walking around the paths on a recent weekend, I couldn’t help but think that all the Trinity really needs is a place to rent a kayak, or maybe a horse, and a place to grab a beer in the shade of a bridge. How about we figure out a way to provide those things, and then let’s call the Trinity River Project complete.

But that’s not what the Trinity River Project is. It is so much else – so many useless, costly ideas that won’t go away. Yes, there’s that nagging toll road, which former backers now apologize for backing. And then there’s the horse park. I’ve never really been able to wrap my head around the point of the horse park. In the Dallas Observer, Eric Nicholson tries to wrap his head around the horse park, a project that began as a modest place to shelter horses, grew into a blow-out boondoggle effort to create a “world class” (that damned word!) equestrian center, and has now settled into its reality as a sort of seemingly useless nonprofit run by a man who is accused of animal abuse.

The saddest and sorriest part of the story involves the trials and travails of Kevin Woods, a South Dallas resident whose years of work building a business that mentored local kids with horses was steamrolled by the city of Dallas. It is, in part, a story of rampant protectionism and cronyism on display from city staff and city council members. In other words, it’s another story about the Trinity River Project.

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