As the Dallas heat wanes and people start emerging from their air-conditioned homes, the search to find a comfortable park nearby can be a challenge.
Adrian Benepe is trying to do something about it. He's senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land. Before that, he served as commisioner of New York City's Parks department for a decade.
He visited Dallas to talk about the Trust's "10-minute walk" advocacy campaign and what North Texas can both teach and learn from other U.S. cities. He sat down with KERA for this week's Friday Conversation at one of the city's crown jewels, Klyde Warren Park.
On walkability in Dallas
"Our gold standard is that everybody should have a quality park within a 10-minute walk. By that measure, Dallas is pretty good. Sixty percent of people have a 10-minute walk access to park, but there's also 500,000 people don't have access to a park. So, there's half a million people that don't have that nearby access and that's going to be a harder problem to fix."
On how the Trinity River Project can unify the city
"If you go back to the creation of Central Park, which some would argue was a certainly America's first urban park, Frederick Law Olmsted had a very specific democratic ideal for that park.
"People from every economic walk of life from every race and ethnic and religious backgrounds are mixing together. I’ve been to Klyde Warren Park on a weekend; I've seen people that — clearly to me — they're not living in the condos across the street. They made a pilgrimage into into the middle of Dallas ... These parks will work best when you deliberately program them to the program for a wide swath of the community."
On why he's obsessed with trees
"When I see a tree, I see the work of God because a tree is a remarkable machine. It does extraordinary things in exchange for very little. When you think about the fact that it takes our waste products and transforms them into the thing we most need, which is oxygen. We would not be sitting in this park, but for these trees."
Interview responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Watch Adrian Benepe talk about the secrets of New York's Central Park: