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Parks

Who Scooped Whom and How on the Harold Simmons Park Story?

Journalism is fun!
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A model of Harold Simmons Park at the Trinity Conservancy's office

This is an inside-baseball post about how a story found its way into the public sphere. If you’re not into that sort of thing, I don’t blame you. A woman who thinks Donald Trump should have his own book in the Bible just bought the Dallas Mavericks. That’s way more interesting.

For the five people still reading: Mark Lamster today dropped a detailed story about new plans in West Dallas for the Harold Simmons Park. You should read it. Among the revelations are that the joint will now cost $325 million (of which only $130 million has been committed) and that the architectural firm Lake Flato is involved.

Last week, the December issue of D Magazine made its way to subscribers and grocery stores. In it, I have a story about Harold Simmons Park in which I took great pains not to reveal some of these details. Which raises (but doesn’t beg) the question: “Tim, why is Mark Lamster so much cooler than you are?” I mean, he teaches at Harvard. We can start there. But as for what happened with this particular story, I’d like to break it down, for the record.

In June, Ken Kalthoff at Channel 5 broke the story that the stuff we think of as the park was no longer going to be built between the levees, along the river itself. He didn’t really have any other details.

I got curious and in September figured out that the Trinity Conservancy had bought a bunch of land in West Dallas. I published a post basically saying, “Look! The park is going right here!” Tony Moore, the CEO of the Trinity Conservancy, wasn’t pumped about my publishing the location of the park and would at the time say only, “I am truly excited about the expansion of Harold Simmons Park and can’t wait to share the full details soon.”

Then I started talking to property owners in the area who hadn’t yet sold to the Conservancy and to businesspeople who operated on land that had already been sold. Eventually, Moore said he’d share some details with me—but only if I agreed to keep most of them off the record. He said the timing still wasn’t right.

Now I know why the timing wasn’t right. Because Moore had worked out a deal for Lamster and the DMN to publish those details first. Which, honestly, is fine. Not only is Lamster a Loeb Fellow of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, but he’s the DMN’s best writer and one of the few (only?) people over there who has the stones to point out that naming the park after Harold Simmons is a bad idea. Seriously, read his story. Its ending is a kick in the jeans to the Conservancy. One wonders how or if it might affect fundraising.

There you have it. Now we can move along to more interesting things. Like what Miriam Adelson wrote in her own newspaper about how Trump should be in the Bible.

Now that I think about it, actually, I wonder if a suddenly very liquid Mark Cuban might kick in the remainder of the needed park funds as a way to mollify those in this blue city who have issues with the Trumpification of the team.

Author

Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…
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