In a heartfelt community celebration at Sleepy Hollow Park in Arlington Park Estates, Dallas, a placemaking community project has officially come to life, thanks to the late United States Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson. The project, aimed at greening District 2, is a collaborative effort between the City of Dallas, Texas Trees Foundation, and the Texas A&M Forest Service.
The Arlington Park Estates Neighborhood was chosen as a planting and improvement site through a census program for urban trees conducted by the Texas A&M Forest Service. The initiative identifies areas with environmental equity concerns related to tree canopy, and Sleepy Hollow Park qualified for community reinvestment.
The neighborhood, established in 1949 in honor of black WWII veterans, underwent various improvements leading up to the unveiling. As a former redlined district situated within Dallas's largest urban heat island, Arlington Park Estates faces challenges related to climate change, environmental pollution, and health concerns.
The restoration of Sleepy Hollow Park began in the spring of 2023, featuring the planting of 30 new trees, including bur oak, cedar elm, chinquapin oak, Eastern redbud, Mexican plum, Mexican white oak, peach, and Shumard oak. Nature-based amenities like tree climber equipment, educational signs, and an ADA compliant walkway were also installed.
Cameron McGriff, a longtime resident, expressed the significance of the project, stating, "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."
Apart from the park improvements, greening efforts extended to nearby Thomas Rusk Middle School and a neighborhood block party where 100 trees were distributed to residents. The goal was to increase tree canopy cover and greenspace access for the Arlington Park Estates neighborhood.
Former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson initiated the project in 2022 through Congressionally directed spending, with the 9:00 a.m. community celebration honoring her efforts. The late Congresswoman's son, Mr. Kirk Johnson, was present at the event.
Chancellor John Sharp of the Texas A&M University System acknowledged the impact of Congresswoman Johnson, stating, "You all are part of her lasting impact and legacy." The Texas A&M Forest Service designed the project to connect ecologically disadvantaged areas to greenspaces and create treescapes that optimize human health.
The redesigned Sleepy Hollow Park stands as a testament to community collaboration, honoring the late Congresswoman's commitment to greening the district and providing a lasting legacy for the Arlington Park Estates Neighborhood.