On November 9, The Trinity Trust hosted a “Toast to the Trinity” at Saint Rocco’s New York Italian restaurant with views of the Dallas skyline and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to celebrate the $50 million gift from the Simmons family for the Trinity River Park Project. The Trinity Trust River Rats and Rat Pack joined the Simmons family, board members, elected officials and special guests in this celebration for the gift given.
The week before, Mayor Mike Rawlings, along with Annette Simmons and The Trinity Trust Foundation, announced a historic $50 million donation from Simmons
in honor of her late husband, Harold Simmons, for the new Trinity River Park. The donation is the single largest gift from a private donor for a public/private
partnership benefitting the City of Dallas. It will launch development and construction of the first phase of what is poised to become one of America's greatest urban parks.
"This gift represents a major turning point for this project, and for our city," said Rawlings. "With the generosity of Annette Simmons, in honor of Harold, we can begin to create a natural treasure for the future generations of Dallas. This will be one of America's greatest urban parks and will serve as a gathering place that unites us right here in the heart of our city."
The donation comes five months after Rawlings unveiled a conceptual design for the park to widespread acclaim. This concept was made possible by a gift from Deedie Rose, interim chair of The Trinity Trust Board of Directors, and the late Rusty Rose. "My husband Harold was a visionary, a humanitarian and a nature lover." said Annette Simmons. "He was committed to investing in Dallas and its citizens. This gift will begin the creation of a great public space in our city that will be a place to gather, to enjoy nature and promote health and well-being. I cannot think of a more lasting and meaningful way to honor Harold's memory and legacy," Annette Simmons said.
With this historic donation, and following City Council approval, the park will be named the Harold Simmons Park. Other contingencies of the gift include that the park be operated by a private entity that has secured operations and maintenance funds. The full park concept encompasses more than 285 acres of land near the heart of downtown Dallas. The concept envisions 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. The concept also allows for the Trinity Parkway, which will provide primary access into the park and will require separate funding.
The concept is the careful work of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., one of America's premier design firms whose work includes the Brooklyn Bridge Park and Harvard Commons Spaces. The next critical step in planning the construction will be community input that will provide the necessary information to create final designs.
"Dallas is very fortunate to have this forward-thinking, transformational gift from Annette Simmons," 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," said Rawlings.