February 1, 2024

    Sleepy Hollow Park Unveiling and Celebration Held in District 2, Honors Greening Initiative by late Congresswoman Johnson

    DALLAS, Texas– A placemaking community project at Sleepy Hollow Park in the Dallas neighborhood of Arlington Park Estates has come to life today in thanks to the late United States Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson for her efforts in greening District 2, benefitting nearby residents.

    The Arlington Park Estates Neighborhood was selected as a planting and improvement site by the Texas A&M Forest Service using a census program for trees in urban areas. The program identifies and assesses areas across the state with environmental equity concerns related to tree canopy. As a result, the neighborhood’s park, Sleepy Hollow Park, qualified for community reinvestment.

    Leading up to today’s unveiling, a series of improvements were undertaken in the neighborhood, which was originally established in 1949 in honor of black WWII veterans.

    The Arlington Park Estates neighborhood, a former redlined district, happens to sit within the largest urban heat island in Dallas. It is among many Texas communities facing significant challenges in mitigating the effects of climate change, natural disasters, environmental pollution, and the resulting human health concerns. Environmental equity concerns are often amplified in communities where depreciation exceeds community investment. Trees and forests represent critical infrastructure that can help address these challenges.

    In the spring of 2023, the restoration of Sleepy Hollow Park – a collaborative project between the City of Dallas, Texas Trees Foundation, and Texas A&M Forest Service – began and included the planting of 30 new trees (bur oak, cedar elm, chinquapin oak, Eastern redbud, Mexican plum, Mexican white oak, peach, and Shumard oak).

    Cameron McGriff, whose grandmother purchased a home in the Arlington Park Estates decades prior, spoke to community members and reflected: “When I think about this park and these trees, it gives new life for the current generation and for the next generation. Trees provide health, for people and the land…a place for social and communal health, a place for people to come together. I think, as we continue, we are strengthened with the diversity of the new families that now find their homes here in this little gem in the heart of Dallas.”

    Aside from the new trees, the restoration team also installed nature-based amenities such as tree climber equipment, educational signs with facts on the urban forest and tree benefits, and an ADA compliant walkway. In addition to the park improvements, neighborhood greening efforts also included planting 50 trees at a nearby school, Thomas Rusk Middle School. Further, at a neighborhood block party hosted by project partners, one hundred trees were distributed to nearby Arlington Park Estates Neighborhood residents, along with complimentary watering hoses. Community meetings and neighborhood surveys were conducted in advance of the neighborhood improvements.

    “Our goal is to increase tree canopy cover and greenspace access for the neighborhood,” said Emily Plauche, Community Greening Manager at Texas Trees Foundation. “We are honored to work with the Arlington Park Estates neighborhood on the improvements made at Sleepy Hollow Park and hope they provide a community gathering and recreation space for generations to come.”

    The Arlington Park Estates neighborhood project, which lies adjacent to the Southwestern Medical District, was initiated by former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson through Congressionally directed spending (Community Project Funding) in 2022. The project – a win for the neighborhood – met federal nexus and other requirements.

    The 9:00 a.m. community celebration was held in honor of the series of improvements and redesigned outdoor space to improve human health, increased recreational opportunities, and beautification of the neighborhood – as well as a commemoration of Congresswoman Johnson’s efforts in the area. The late Congresswoman’s son, Mr. Kirk Johnson, was also in attendance.

    “We are all saddened by the recent passing of Congresswoman Johnson. I think she would have loved being here today with all of you to celebrate this bright light in this neighborhood’s story,” said Chancellor John Sharp of the Texas A&M University System. “But great leaders, like Ms. Eddie Bernice, do good things for others knowing they themselves will not get to see the results nor benefit from them personally. You all are part of her lasting impact and legacy.”

    Texas A&M Forest Service designed this project to connect ecologically disadvantaged areas to greenspaces and support new treescapes in places that optimize human health. Through collaboration with Texas Trees Foundation and the City of Dallas, a long-neglected neighborhood park is now a neighborhood gem.

    “Dallas Park and Recreation appreciates this collaboration with Texas Trees Foundation and Texas A&M Forest Service to enhance Sleepy Hollow Park. We deeply honor the late Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's commitment to greening this district, and hope residents enjoy the new amenities in this park both now and in the future,” said Chris McMaster, Dallas Park & Recreation’s Urban Forest Manager.

    Communities thrive when people begin putting down roots – now that’s something to celebrate – this time in the refreshed Arlington Park Estates Neighborhood.