A Trinity Forest Park Could Be Wonderful If We Talk to the Right People

Categories: Schutze

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I have a column in tomorrow's paper wailing about the city's failure ever to generate a true high-concept vision for the park we're supposed to be building on the Trinity River.

We've seen bits and pieces of ideas come and go -- good, bad and ugly. Audubon Center, good. Horse Park, iffy. Amusement Park, nightmare.

But no one has even suggested doing a competition or an international search for the best and brightest people in this field to help us come up with an overall concept for an urban forest park. I say in the column tomorrow that one problem is the idea itself -- an urban forest. It's too new. The people who could do it are few and far between.

Wouldn't you know, this morning -- too late for my deadline on the column -- I finally landed an interview with one of those people. Christopher Marcinkoski is a founder of Port Architecture + Urbanism, a Chicago firm. He has been involved in the design of major public realm projects in China, Sweden and this country, especially in New York and Atlanta.

The one that caught my eye, however, was a proposal Marcinkoski's firm is pitching to Cleveland for repurposing 8,200 acres of disused industrial land in the Lower Cuyahoga River Valley. It's a fascinating concept that would take a vast body of poisoned rust-belt barrens and reuse that land to make Cleveland an extremely cool place to live.

What's parallel between Cleveland and Dallas? Well, mainly the sheer volume of land. They have more than 8,000 acres of land to work with. In the Trinity River project we have 10,000 acres. The other is location, location, location. Both land masses are in the centers of their cities.

Several things jumped out at me as I listened to Marcinkoski on the phone and looked at his project online. One is that you don't just say "park" and leave it at that. The Cleveland project incorporates a number of what they're calling "planning floors," envisioning multiple uses from residential to waste-water treatment.

Another idea he touched on is that you don't just say "green" and expect people to go for it. There's another kind of green you have to deal with first. You have to show the money. His firm works with economists who generate dollar projections for the value of this kind of public investment as a magnet for private investment.

I'm going to write more about this guy, his projects and some others around the country. But the last thing that jumped out at me was this: I asked who cared.

Who were they talking to? Who wanted to convert an 8,200-acre rust farm into a world-class urban forest park?

He said there was serious interest among corporate leadership with international experience. Those people know, he said, that this is the kind of project that will attract young knowledge-workers to Cleveland and thereby endow the city with a strong future.

That's where we have been stuck in the mud in Dallas. The Trinity River project has been domineered from the beginning by aging mid-century provincials who think the way to create success is to buy a bridge from a famous European architect and then build an expressway on top of the river.

We gotta get smarter. But smarter is out there. We've just been talking to the wrong people. We need architects, not decorators. More on this soon.


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claytonauger
claytonauger

You forgot to mention that the City of Dallas would also like drill for gas in the Great Trinity Forest. Dallas still looks at flood plains as useless land only good for the disposal of undesirable things and people..

scottindallas
scottindallas

you don' t plant a forest.  I long ago suggested letting the floodplain in-fill with trees.  You had problems with the amount of water those tree trunks would displace.  So, it seems a forest is out of the question. 

You want an article, write about the utter folly of planting bald Cypress trees in the deck park.  Those have a deep tap root, planted in conditions that cannot accommodate those trees.  Then they plant many other trees in those 7 year tree rings.  (I call them that cause that's the life span of a tree planted in one of those rings.  They hardly grow at all, and certainly never have a chance.)

I'm all for a town lake, a wooded floodplain (which would structurally reinforce the levees better than what the corps will demand.) 

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

I would love to see a food forest planted down there. Something like what they are doing in Seattle, but with plants that are hardy in our climate. http://news.discovery.com/eart...

Sa
Sa

The only hardy plants in *this* climate are weeds.  Oh, excuse me, I meant to say "native plants,"

lorlee
lorlee

I made a stab at starting this in my neighborhood.  I planted a pear tree in the park and one in front of my neighbor's house in the parkway.  The garbage people managed to run over the one in the parkway and someone just flat out stole the tree from the park.

Even given my experience, I think it is a great idea.  They do it along country roads in the Czech Republic .

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

I have an idea for a theme song for that Cleveland project: "Up to the Knees in PCBs".

Hewood
Hewood

I like Enrique's idea but we need a 'center' for our 'dear leaders' to gather for photo opportunities and some attractions for them to use.  The attractions can be the 'Grassy Knoll Phamlet Dispensatorium', a JWP special mirror that makes anyone who looks into it suddenly have a 15% thinner wallet, a small dump of Lego for mayors to build their own Calatrava-esque bridges, and a sand pit to be known as the 'Jim Schutze Libtard Jump to Conclusion' square.  And of course this all has to be by the landing for the solar powered water taxis with designated spots for electric cars and hay dispensers for the unicorns the City Council expect to have arrive any day.

Jim, you remind me of a university professor who told me that summer was the best time at the school as there were no students around.  He loved the university but could not understand  why there had to be students around the place.  if you really want to be in an urban wilderness with nobody around, there is always Detroit.

JimS
JimS

No hard feelins', and it's always a pleasure to see you showing up on the page, Governor.

Enrique De La Fuente
Enrique De La Fuente

The best plan for the Trinity Forest is the simplest...buy out those businesses nearby the park (most are industrial), buyout the neighborhood along Carbondale...and let nature reclaim.  Add a few hike and bike trails, some seasonal "Clean the River" campaigns, and done.  

Let nature take of the care of the rest.  Trinity Forest is great as is, it just needs some help along the edges.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 no, no, Jim's actually supporting a paved forest.  He want's this thing formalized.  Just like our city elders.  You're right, leave it the fuck alone and it will be fine and do well.  Jim's out of his element here.  The rest of the Trinity forest wasn't planned, when we commission others to plant their designs (invariably ostranders) we get bald cypress and other foreign trees that don't fit in our urban forest.

Ben
Ben

The community along Carbondale, called Joppa, turns 140 years old this Juneteenth. Like the biblical town, it too is built of cedar and sits on a hill. It has never flooded. I'm not sure if you have ever been to a true freedman's town. This is one. Drive down there some hot saturday night this summer. Park you car and walk around. Talk to people. Listen. You'll see. Find the housebound man on his porch near the end of Fellows. Listen.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

You really want to plan something thoughtful, talk to Ben! He knows those woods front to back. He knows who you should meet. Billy and Zada come to mind, and lots more. There's a treasure a diamond in the rough and one thing it does not need is lots of concrete!

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