About 110 acres of park space are coming to southern Dallas. The city says that Oncor is donating to the parks department the sizable chunk of land, which includes and surrounds Parkdale Lake just east of Elsie Faye Higgins St., just north of State Highway 352, and just west of White Rock Creek. The energy company was spurred into its generosity in large part by the efforts of former parks director Willis Winters and the coming of The LOOP.
That’s the name—the caps lock seems to be a recent affectation—of the soon-to-be-connected-and-extended trail system that will ultimately form a 50-mile circuit around the city. The Trinity Forest Spine Trail link, leading from White Rock Lake in East Dallas to the Trinity Forest in southern Dallas, will run alongside White Rock Creek through this new park land.
The Circuit Trail Conservancy, which is building The LOOP, says this is “the largest parkland dedication in Dallas since 1937,” when William Worthington Samuell bequeathed 600 acres of farmland to the city. Samuell Farm sits way out east and doesn’t see as much use as it should, although that’s a different story. It’s also sort of technically in Mesquite. It’s complicated.
Anyway, Parkdale Lake also serves another practical purpose for the city and the trail, per the conservancy, helping control runoff in the White Rock Creek floodplain.
Parkdale, farmland in the 1930s that was turned into a “water storage site” in the 1950s for an electric generator that was decommissioned in 2005, has been owned by Oncor since 2010. It hasn’t seen much action since then. If the drone videos shared by the Circuit Trail Conservancy are any indication, then it will make for a fine park. It’s also a nice bike ride south of White Rock Lake; this aerial photo from 1967 shows you how close the two really are.
We will have to wait for more specific park plans to take shape—the city says it first wants to poll neighbors about what they’d like to see done with the place. Philip Hiatt Haigh, director of the Circuit Trail Conservancy, says a spillway similar to White Rock’s is in the plans so the land can continue to help take care of runoff from the creek. He also anticipates seven miles of trail to run through the park.
“We know there is an infrastructure disparity between North and South Dallas that has left neighborhoods—like Parkdale—without dedicated, safe pedestrian connections to surrounding neighborhoods or the rest of Dallas,” says Hiatt Haigh. “Completing The LOOP is a step in the right direction toward connecting and uniting Dallas. Parkdale is less than five miles from White Rock and because of this land donation, and public funding from the City of Dallas, County of Dallas and privately raised CTC funds, these neighborhoods will now be connected.”
Construction on the first phase of the Trinity Forest Spine Trail began earlier this year and will reach out to Samuell Road. Phase Two should get underway next year and take it out further to U.S. 175. Farther to the north and west, the Hi Line Connector that will bridge the Katy Trail to the Design District and the Trinity River is coming soon. The gaps in The LOOP get smaller and smaller.