It’s been done in a lot of other places, but Dallas is doing it bigger than anyone else: turning a floodplain into an urban park. The 10,000-acre park—actually a series of them—along the Trinity River will be part of a nature preserve containing green spaces and other public amenities like fountains, plazas, and playgrounds.
The park is being developed in stages, with some money from the city and some from private donations. The city has spent more than $600 million so far to build trails, bridges, a golf course, and a community center.
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A good portion of it is in the river’s floodplain, and parts will be designed to collect runoff during storms. Bioswales will help infiltrate the water. You can see renderings of the park here.
The project is being built on mostly undeveloped land along the river corridor, some of which had been prone to flooding. In the past, residents have not had convenient access to the river. In a statement, the design firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates said “MVVA’s plan creates a park accessible even during 10-year storms, ensuring the adaptability of the space even under extreme circumstances. By working closely with government engineers and other specialists to ensure the infrastructural soundness of the floodplain, MVVA has transformed the flooding of the river from a natural disaster into a breathtaking spectacle.”
Several other communities have put empty land to use for flood control, often by implementing buy-back plans of some sort, in which they acquire houses or other buildings that lie in a floodplain, demolish the buildings, and keep the land as open space. This article looks at a case in Virginia where houses were either moved or torn down with the help of a FEMA grant. This one covers “mini parks” being created on vacant lots in Cleveland, OH.