Thursday, April 19, 2012

Floyd's Fishing Hole

Bullhead in downtown Richardson. Yep. And I'm not referring to me. Bear with me. I'll get to it. I'm back to pester you about my latest quixotic vision for Richardson.

My frequent paeans to transit-oriented development around Richardson's DART stations are too numerous not to have registered somewhere in your memory, right? DART is real, not a dream.

What is (probably) a dream (for now, anyway) is my vision of ripping up Central Expressway and replacing it with a grand central boulevard for Richardson.

Also just an idle daydream was me tweeting about running a streetcar line up Greenville Ave from Brick Row to the PGBT DART station.

Recently, my lamenting of Dallas's undead plan to pave the Trinity River floodplain inside downtown's levees with a new tollway inspired a new quixotic dream for me about Richardson.

After the jump, what Richardson can learn from Seoul, Korea (even if Dallas refuses to).

In my blog item about the Trinity Tollway, I referred to Seoul, Korea's Cheonggyecheon project, in which a double-decker freeway through downtown Seoul was removed and the river was restored as a linear park. That prompted one reader to inform me (thanks!) that Richardson itself has a river running right through its own downtown, OK, maybe not a river. More like a creek. And maybe a seasonal creek at that. But still... The Floyd Branch of Cottonwood Creek runs between Texas Street and the DART Red Line in downtown Richardson. You may not even recognize it as a creek, as it has been cemented over and is now nothing more than a concrete drainage ditch. And, if the City of Richardson goes through with current plans, even that might literally disappear, as portions of Floyd Branch are planned to be covered over by the future Central Trail. The trail through downtown Richardson would then be just an unattractive connecting segment of a longer trail. What a missed opportunity!

Imagine instead the Floyd Branch being restored to its natural state and Texas Street used for construction of the Central Trail. Central Trail would then become a magnet for people in downtown Richardson. That, in turn, makes downtown Richardson itself a magnet for people in homes and businesses all around the area. It can be the spark to ignite redevelopment of the whole area.

You may say I am dreaming, but I'm not the only one (h/t to John Lennon). Unimaginative bureaucrats thought Seoul's Mayor Lee Myung-bak was dreaming, too, when he proposed ripping up its freeway and restoring its river, but now the linear park is the gem of downtown Seoul. Imagine picnicking on the banks of the Floyd Branch off Main Street in Richardson. Imagine fishing there. Crazy? Maybe not. Just 3.4 miles south of Richardson, you can do that today. I wouldn't have believed it myself, but check out this description of the Floyd Branch in Dallas on a website for fishermen:

Floyd Branch is a stream located just 3.4 miles from Richardson, in the state of Texas, United States. Fishermen will find a variety of fish including bluegill, gar and bullhead here. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to Floyd Branch. If all goes well, the brim will be hooked by your grasshoppers, the gar will be biting your crickets and the black bullhead will be grabbing your worms.
But it may already be too late for Richardson (see pages 47-52 of this presentation to the city council). It's all too cruelly ironic. Richardson, which does a better job than most cities in realizing the value of trees, parks, and trails, is about to bury for good a creek that it's been slowly killing for decades. Will it take even more decades before Richardson will realize the value of what's right under its feet? Who will be future Richardson's Mayor Lee Myung-bak?

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