Officials with the Dallas Park and Recreation Department are recommending that the city allocate nearly $400 million for the department in the city’s 2024 bond program.

The funding would allow the department to develop and maintain Dallas parks and trails, acquire new land, build new aquatic centers, collaborate with other city departments, and more.

What happened

On Sept. 5, members of the department presented a bond update to City Council’s Parks, Trails and the Environment Committee, which is chaired by recently elected Council Member Kathy Stewart. This was the committee’s first meeting after Mayor Eric Johnson renamed it from the Environment and Sustainability Committee in late August to better focus on parks and trails.

The update outlined the department’s project priorities based on a funding scenario that includes about $400 million in the $1 billion bond package.

John Jenkins, park and recreation department director, said during the meeting that about 60% of the recommended allocation represents real needs, while the rest is to help the city build a more robust park system, among other goals. Although the department has over $3 billion worth of needs, he said he expects to receive much less than the recommended $400 million.

“We know through this entire process, this number is going to come down,” Jenkins said. “You all have a lot of needs. As the council, it’s going to be a tough decision.”

A quick note

Johnson has repeatedly named city parks as one of his top priorities as mayor. During his inauguration for his second term in June, he said he wants Dallas to have the best park system of any city in Texas.

In late August, Johnson joined a group of Dallas parks supporters to launch the Dallas Parks Coalition to advocate for parks and green spaces throughout the city.

The details

The department’s recommended uses for the $400 million include 26 project categories, including Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, aquatics, playgrounds, recreation centers and trail improvements.

Some of the recommended projects and their funding costs in the Lake Highlands/Lakewood area are:
  • $20 million for dredging White Rock Lake
  • $15 million for the Forest Audelia Park and Multipurpose Center
  • $2 million for a multiuse facility with pickleball courts in Lake Highlands
  • $8 million for White Rock Creek Trail improvements
  • $20 million for a new recreation center adjacent to White Rock Hills Park
Stay tuned

Dallas residents can give input on the city’s bond program through an online survey, which will stay open until Sept. 15. They can also attend two remaining open houses, which are part of the city’s open house series to discuss the bond program and solicit feedback.

The two remaining dates are:
  • Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.
Feedback from the survey and open houses will be shared with Dallas City Council and the Community Bond Task Force, which is made up of 15 council-appointed members. Recommendations based on that feedback will be shared in December with a bond election expected in May.