An illegal dumping ground in South Oak Cliff has transformed into a lush community park complete with an all-abilities playground, a rock-climbing wall and a rain garden.
The 1.8-acre South Oak Cliff Renaissance Park, located at 405 E. Overton Road, is the first park to open as part of the Five Mile Creek Urban Greenbelt master plan, spearheaded by The Trust for Public Land (TPL).
TPL purchased the vacant lot in 2019 to develop into a park with input from residents of the neighborhood, as well as the students and faculty at South Oak Cliff High School.
“Parks have the power to improve health, benefit the environment, build equity, and bring the community together,” said Robert Kent, Texas State Director for The Trust for Public Land, in a statement. “This park is an expression of the vision, spirit, and power of the South Oak Cliff community, and it has been our honor to help bring it to life.”
A grant from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club funded solar powered lighting, Wi-Fi and security cameras in the park. The project received an additional grant from The North Face for a rock-climbing boulder wall.
South Oak Cliff Renaissance Park also features an all-abilities playground, all-weather exercise equipment, an outdoor classroom and a picnic area. A rain garden, designed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and The Nature Conservancy, will help filter stormwater runoff.
“We are excited to welcome South Oak Cliff Renaissance Park to our growing park system,” said Arun Agarwal, president of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board, in a statement. “Working with The Trust for Public Land will ensure Oak Cliff neighborhoods remain healthy and vibrant with the development of new green spaces. The organization’s vision to design new parks along Five Mile Creek gives life to Dallas’ pledge to build an equitable, inclusive and quality system of parks that everyone can enjoy.”
The ambitious plan for the Five Mile Creek greenbelt calls for multiple parks and dozens of miles of trails across Oak Cliff. The 40-acre Judge Charles Rose Park in Highland Hills and the 82-acre Woody Branch Park in Glen Oaks are both part of the network.
The Trust for Public Land says only 54% of the more than 186,000 residents living within the Five Mile Creek area have access to a park or trail within a 10-minute walk from home. The plan’s goal is to expand access to green spaces and, in doing so, improving health and education outcomes for southern Dallas.
“The Trust for Public Land has been the city’s partner in bringing residents and communities together with easy access to comfortable green spaces within their neighborhoods,” said Parks and Recreation Department Director John D. Jenkins in a statement. “Their expertise in planning and development ensures families can get to a park within minutes. As our city’s need for unique outdoor places grows, we will continue to co-create with them to make sure Dallas parks are a place where everyone can gather for years to come.”
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