The rain stayed away, and the temperature was perfect for last Saturday’s Better Block project on Grand Avenue in South Dallas. Team Better Block along with a handful of volunteers and city staff set to work realigning the four lane block of Grand Avenue in front of RL Griffin’s Blues Palace #2 and converting the roadway to make room for a wide pedestrian esplanade, on street parking, and maintaining two lanes for vehicle traffic. The overall effect created a safer street which accommodate pedestrians, and slowed vehicle traffic to turn the area into a destination. Intersection bulb-outs were created using straw wattles, and movable bollards were brought onsite to direct pedestrian traffic while giving the area a walkable feel.
One of the more exciting projects incoporated into the street was taking an existing parkway and converting it into a bioswale, or rain garden. This feature takes the water runoff from the adjacent parking lot, and allows the pollutants to be trapped by aggregate allowing cleaner water to sink into the soil. Vegetation surrounding the rain garden can also be naturally sustained by the collected water which creates a more aesthetically pleasing corner. Below are the steps the team took to buildout the rain garden:
This project is one of the first of its kind in South Dallas, with the work taking approximately 4 hours. If similar buildouts were done in parkways throughout the city, we’d see a dramatic decrease in the pollutants that run into the Trinity River. Our hopes are to incorporate more of these projects into future Better Blocks.
On the day of the event itself, we worked with local area churches and barbeque shops. The culmination of the Better Block was to host a Gospel BBQ with the neighborhood to show off our “Complete Street”. Afterward, city council members, staff, and residents all came out and had the chance to enjoy the space as a true community destination. A woman from East Dallas who had attended the event talked to us about how she felt like the area really had something unique to offer and that she didn’t need to travel the world as much when exciting destinations like this existed in her own backyard. This was exactly what our team was working to develop…spotlighting that we have all of the unique and remarkable people and places needed to make a great place, we’re just lacking the walkable, people-focused amenities that tie the pieces together and make for a great destination.
Special thanks to Texas Trees Foundation, Landscape Forms, Hall Development, ICDC, RL Griffin, Ryba Design, HALFF Associates, Kimley-Horn, UNIQ, Texas Coffee School, Skye McDaniel, Tom Fisch, Valleycrest, Urban Turf, Cumberland Presbyterian Church Choir, Cornerstone Baptist Church Choir, Cornerstone Praise Dancers, Teal’s BBQ, Precious BBQ, and our awesome team of volunteers for helping us pull together a great project!