By Andrew Laska
We have a lot of new residents and young families moving into Richardson Heights. Many of our new neighbors have never heard the story of how Durham Park came to be. Here is a much abbreviated version of what should be considered a prime example of residents working to improve their neighborhood. Durham Park stands as a testament to citizen participation. Without neighborhood vision and drive, and the City of Richardson buying into that vision, the park could never have been. There were at least two failed efforts to obtain a park in the Heights area that preceded Durham Park but space does not allow me to describe them.
The genesis for what is now Durham Park was started with a revival in the 2008/2009 timeframe. I and Barry Hand – then President of Cottonwood Heights – worked to start a plan to lobby the City of Richardson to create a full-fledged park in the Heights area. Ultimately this idea became one of the items on the 2009 Heights Plan for Excellence – A Plan for Neighborhood Revitalization. Richardson Heights, Cottonwood Heights, and Heights Park presented to the plan to the City Council and eventually all five areas were addressed.
With that the neighborhood associations helped place the concept of “parks for underserved areas” on an update for the City’s Parks and Open Space Plan. Shortly thereafter the City began to assemble the 2010 City Bond Program. With the help of then City Council members, money was allotted for a park on the Heights area. Residents of Heights voted in favor of the Bond Package registering the highest “For” vote in the City.
Later in 2012, the City was able to assemble property by voluntary purchases of several homes—some of which were for sale anyway. The Parks Department then held focus groups and public meetings. StudioOutside was hired to design the park based on public input and the end design matches closely with the neighborhoods’ desires. The park opened in June of 2013.