The Dallas Park Board and the Park and Recreation Department officially opened the Lake Highlands Trail Wednesday evening with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Phase one, with more than 2 miles of paved trail, begins at Ferndale between Faircrest and Vistadale and runs east along the powerlines. It ends at Lake Highlands North Park. The event was 11 years in the making.
“It’s very exciting,” said Jo Baggett, who served 8 years on the Park Board and was instrumental in bringing the trail to LH. “It’s been so fun to see people using it. There are always kids out here now on bicycles and walking. It took a long time, but it’s nice to see it finally happen. In the beginning, everyone was very excited, but that was a long time ago. People began to wonder, ‘is it really going to happen?’”
“These are the days you work for,” said Michael Hellmann, Park and Recreation Asst. Director. “It takes a long time to plan and fund and implement a project. Ten years is about average from inception to implementation. The power line corridor adds an extra element that makes it complicated, because we have to be very careful what we put in these corridors. That’s added some time.”
Keith Ross lives nearby and admits he wasn’t sure about the trail at first.
“In the beginning I said, ‘I just don’t know about a trail here, that’s just a bunch of old dirt.’ Then I got out here, and now I’m one of the biggest advocates of it. I walk it in the morning and I walk it in the afternoon. It’s great for so many people. My neighbors are older and like to get out and walk, but they sometimes fall. They get out here and it’s perfect for them – it’s smooth. Then there’s the little boy in a wheelchair down the block –it’s great for him, too. It turned out ten times better than we could have ever expected.”
Jana Boswell, who enjoys walking the trail with friends, agrees.
“I love it, it’s a great addition to our neighborhood. I see lots of people out here. There’s a lady who lives right over here,” says Jana, pointing, “who home schools six children, and they’re out here a lot on their various vehicles. I see lots of dogs, elderly people, young people, strollers. I love Austin, and it kind of feels like Austin.”
“We’re out here once, sometimes twice, a day, said Jill Gunnels.” You can’t keep us away. The look of it is beautiful. The kids play, the neighbors meet and the dogs meet. You see all ages, from babies on tricycles to adults, some with canes and walkers. I may be like that one day.”
“I see so many of my friends on the trail now, when I go for a walk I have to dress up,” joked Donna Kent, who lives nearby.
“This has turned out to be a lovely amenity for this neighborhood,” said Robin Norcross, current Park Board member. “People still don’t know it’s here, so we need help to spread the word.”
Hellmann said design work has begun on phase two of the trail, which will extend to the LH Town Center. The trail is part of PARD’s 135 mile system, and their goal is to have 270 miles in the next 10 years.
Hellman closed with 5 rules of trail etiquette:
1) Keep dogs on a short leash.
2) Announce ‘on your left’ and pass on left.
3) Walk only 2 abreast to allow room for others.
4) Monitor your speed.
5) Wear only one earbud and/or keep volume low for safety.