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A STATE PARK FOR CITY SLICKERS

By Aimee Larrabee |

Recreation areas around city lakes are overflowing with sunbathers, bicyclists and families. Apartment swimming pools are crowded with singles. Signs all over the Park Cities proclaim “No picnicking.” The Dallas Central Business District has fewer than five grassy spaces on which people can relax. So where do we nature lovers go?

A handful of Dallasites are providing an answer. Acres of unspoiled land -including a large river for canoeing, deep woods for hiking and enough wildlife to keep amateur bird watchers busy -are within a five-minute drive from downtown: it’s the Trinity River bottom and several hundred surrounding acres. The state Legislature recently approved House Bill 1978, which will allow the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to establish the Trinity River State Park.

The park, which should cost the state between $5 million and $6 million to develop, will stretch along the Trinity River from the Corinth Street overpass in Oak Cliff to Interstate 635. It won’t displace any industrial or residential areas because the park will contain only flood-plain acreage and a few tracts of undeveloped wilderness.

The instigators of this project are a couple of outdoorsy types. Neely Kerr, a member of the Dallas Downriver Club, has been hoping for the development since the early Seventies. This year, he teamed up with Ned Fritz, chairman of the Texas Committee on Natural Resources, who took the idea to state Rep. Alvin Granoff, who, in turn, carried the bill through the Legislature.

Fritz says that long-range plans include a paved-park-ing area, a foot-path system, printed guides of the area, picnic grounds and bike paths. An entrance to the park has been suggested for what is now Moore Park, a city facility on the west side of the land. Immediate plans call for the establishment of several hiking trails that will be flagged and cleared of poison ivy.

The location of the park is not too far downstream from what may one day become Town Lake. Fritz says that the two areas could coexist beautifully, but -with or without Town Lake -the new state park will survive.