Warren, a park aficionado, reportedly chipped in another
$10 million in 2012 and got to name the park after his
then 9-year-old son.
“All in all, this effort — a great, public-private partnership
model — produced a wonderful green space,” said Bratt.
The result is a 5.7-acre park in downtown Dallas with
more than 300 trees and dozens of native plant species
that seamlessly bridges an urban residential neighborhood that was seriously lacking in open space with an arts
district with seven or eight museums and regional attractions. According to a downtown master plan updated in
2013, Dallas lags far behind peer cities such as Phoenix,
Seattle and Minneapolis in terms of city center parks.
The park opened in the fall of 2012 and was immediately
popular. It has a large lawn and a crescent sort of walkway
in the park, he said, and trees and plantings interspersed
with playgrounds, a splash park and a jungle gym, as well as
seating on the south side where food trucks serve customers. The park features sustainable landscaping and unique
design aspects such as trenches that act as planters and
allow trees to grow to desired sizes and a combination of
Geofoam and specially designed soil that is light weight
and encourages growth.
There’s also a facility where music acts can perform, and
a restaurant, too, he noted. The park itself is run by the
Woodall Rogers Foundation, which maintains it, brings
in programming and does fundraising.
“I’m not sure of the numbers, but it gets a lot of office
workers during the week who come here to have lunch or
just take a break,” Bratt said. “And then on weekends, it
gets families with kids, people visiting the city and a mishmash of everyone else. The park has also sparked apartment
and residential unit development. In addition, because the
area has become more attractive, rental rates have gone up
because people want to live near the park.
In Seattle, University of Washington urban forestry professor Kath Wolf said that desire to be near trees and open,
green spaces may be part of our genetic makeup — dating
back to the thousands of years humans spent their time as
hunters and gatherers.
She said the “biophilia hypothesis” — first espoused by
former Harvard professor Ed Wilson — argued that our
evolutionary background left us with an affinity for nature.
“Being in tune with the natural world was — and still is
— essential for our well-being,” she said. “We are hard-wired to be outdoors because that is where we lived for so
long before we became urbanized. For millennia, we had
a direct reliance on nature in terms of shelter materials,
water, food, being safe vs. being at risk. Those are probably part of the mechanisms that we respond to positively
in nature — and parks — today.”
Urban planners have for centuries recognized the beauty of
trees, and many communities still have quaintly described
“beautification committees” that have planting trees
and getting people enthused about Arbor Day as part of
“Aesthetics are certainly important,” Wolf said. “But we
now know from extensive research is that trees are also the
lungs of our city and do a lot to improve air and water
Being in tune with the natural world
is essential for our well-being.
Courtesy of Visit Savannah