Back in 2002 the idea that had been simmering started gathering steam. For some it was a crazy idea; to others it was a stroke of genius. Perhaps it was both. The idea was the creation of a park over Woodall Rodgers, a recessed highway. John Zogg played the role of Tom Sawyer rallying organizations and people to the undertaking. One of those people was Capital Bank Founder Jody Grant, who not only donated $1M of his own money but an additional $1M donation from the bank.
In addition to providing a greenspace among the surrounding skyscrapers, it would also literally provide a user-friendly common area for Dallas Downtowners and Uptowners to work out, relax and bring their families and friends.
By 2004 Zogg, Grant and Linda Owen established The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation to oversee the creation and completion of the park.
It would be a five-year journey, but construction got underway in October 2009 and it was another three years before the Park officially opened.
By this time the Park even had a name — Klyde Warren Park, after Amy and Kelsey Warren’s son.
Next year on Klyde Warren Park’s 20th anniversary, the 5.2-acre deck park will undergo a major expansion — Klyde Warren Park, Phase 2.0 — adding 1.7 acres just east of Field Street. One of the major bonuses of the expansion will be the “enlarging the Children’s Park from 12,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet.”
Along with the expansion will be a new name for the Children’s Park, thanks to a $5M gift from the Perot family honoring Sheila and Jody Grant.
According to Perot family matriarch Margot Perot, “Without Sheila and Jody Grant, there would simply be no Klyde Warren Park. This gift honors their courage and commitment in developing this wonderful Park for all of Dallas to enjoy.”
This additional space will provide for “exciting new, state-of-the-art play equipment, including a climbing tower, a children’s climbing wall, new balance and pinning elements, as additional water feature and a shaded picnic area, which can be used for birthday parties or other fun family celebration. An entirely new play surface will be installed throughout, existing restrooms will be updated and pristine new landscaping will be added.”
In response to the gift, Klyde Warren Park Co-Founder Sheila Grant said, “One of our initial missions was to create a special place for families to come together in the heart of our fabulous city. They [the Perot family] have been longtime advocates for the city of Dallas and an encouraging force behind the Park’s success. We are simply thrilled and deeply touched by this most meaningful gifts and so pleased that the real beneficiaries will be the children and families who will love and enjoy this expanded park for decades to come.”
While construction is underway to meet a 2024 completion, Klyde Warren Park officials have arranged for “special children’s programming throughout other areas of the park” in the meantime.
Klyde Warren Park President Kit Sawers explained, “ The Children’s Park has always been one of the most popular destinations within the Park, and this expansion will give our youngest visitors even more room to learn, explore and imagine. From day one, it was determined that this unique and entertaining space needed to be bigger. Children and their families stay for hours enjoying the equipment, engaging in creative play and making new friends.”
Since Klyde Warren Park is a privately operated non-profit, it relies on corporate partnerships, individual donations and grants to meet its mission “to connect the community and enrich lives through free, active programing and educational opportunities in a pristine and safe, centrally located, entertainment-rich green space where everyone is welcome.”
* Graphic courtesy of Klyde Warren Park