Mayor Mike Rawlings announces $50 million donation for Trinity park. (Photo courtesy Philip Kingston)

Annette Simmons donated $50 million to Dallas to be used for construction of the park in the Trinity River bottoms, that will be named after her late husband, corporate raider Harold Simmons.

“We’re naming it Harold Simmons Park?” Councilman Philip Kingston tweeted. “Did we vote on that?”

Apparently Kingston thinks democracy trumps $50 million.

Kingston also called the highway through the Trinity flood zone, which he refers to as the Underwater Zombie Tollroad, as the elephant in the room. At a press conference held at Trinity Groves this morning (Monday, Oct. 31) to announce the donation, the project wasn’t mentioned. Zombie Tollroad? Well, happy Halloween.

However, in a press release sent during the announcement, the road was mentioned.

The donation will fund building 285 acres of park near downtown with “a new naturalized river landscape that is ever-changing with miles of pathways and trails within the levees, and includes sites for five elevated parks that will extend from inside the levees into the adjacent communities.”

About the underwater tollroad, the press release explains, “The concept also allows for the Trinity Parkway, which will provide primary access into the park and will require separate funding.”

The latest design for the park and highway were released in May and avoided explaining how the road will navigate over or under the existed and soon-to-be completed bridges or if they’ll just be torn down so that the road can be built high enough to avoid regular flooding.

The donation is the single largest gift from a private donor for a public/private partnership benefitting the city of Dallas. The Trinity Trust will serve as custodian of the gift until a new entity to oversee construction and management of the park is established. So what that public/private partnership will turn out to be is also unknown. Kingston probably thinks that’s something the Dallas City Council should vote on too. See? That’s why we love Philip. He probably thinks all $50 million donated for a park should be used to build a park.

“Dallas is very fortunate to have this forward-thinking, transformational gift from Annette Simmons,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said. “This gift changes everything. It has the ability to change the culture and image of our city in the future. And in terms of immediate impact, it transitions us from thinking to doing. My hope is that in the near future we can begin a series of public input meetings to start building out the design of the park. By next year, we want to be building America’s next great urban park.”