Analysis Based on factual reporting, although it Incorporates the expertise of the author/producer and may offer interpretations and conclusions.

Where has the 2017 Dallas bond money gone?

By Renee Umsted,
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January 18, 2024

Dallas News

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Dallas City Council is expected to finalize a list of projects for the 2024 bond in February ahead of a May general election, but many projects that received funding through the 2017 bond haven’t been completed. And other projects have been abandoned, with their funds reallocated. 

In November 2017 Dallas voters approved the 2017 Capital Bond Program, a $1.05 billion package. Money was allocated to complete about 1,400 projects across 10 propositions: 

  • Proposition A: Street and Transportation 
  • Proposition B: Parks and Recreation 
  • Proposition C: Fair Park 
  • Proposition D: Flood Control and Storm Damage 
  • Proposition E: Library Facilities 
  • Proposition F: Cultural and Performing Arts 
  • Proposition G: Public Safety Facilities
  • Proposition H: City Facilities 
  • Proposition I: Economic Development 
  • Proposition J: Homeless Assistance Facilities 

The process to identify which projects would receive funding through the 2017 bond started in 2016. City staff briefed the Dallas City Council on Dallas’ infrastructure needs, and Dallas residents were invited to provide input during more than 30 public meetings held around the city. The Citizens Bond Task Force, a 15-member committee appointed by the mayor and city council, helped review and recommend projects. The city council made amendments to the task force’s recommendations before adopting the bond package and ordering the election. 

As City Council deliberates a 2024 bond election, the Dallas Free Press wanted to find out the status of 2017 bond projects in West Dallas and South Dallas — which projects were promised, and of those, which have been completed. We also wanted to know how much money was spent versus budgeted. 

The City of Dallas has a website for the 2017 bond program, with sections dedicated to the 10 propositions. Normally, the website lists the projects in each proposition, along with details about each project, such as the original budget and completion date. But as of publication, all of the projects have disappeared from the website. We’ve asked the city’s Communications, Outreach and Marketing department what’s going on, but we haven’t received a response. We’ll update this story when we learn more. (Update: The city’s 2017 bond website began functioning again the day after we published this article.)

Before the website malfunctioned, we used it to find information about projects in three zip codes: 75212 in West Dallas and 75215 and 75210 in South Dallas. 

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Project names, brief descriptions, status, bond sale amount, original budget, current budget, amount paid and current amount committed are recorded in the spreadsheets below. Cells marked “N/A” mean that the information was unavailable on the bond website. 

The spreadsheet is a work in progress. We contacted the city’s Communications, Outreach and Marketing department to help us check our work and fill in the missing details. We also asked for definitions to the following terms, which are used on the city’s bond website: bond sale amount, original budget, current budget, amount paid and current commit. As of publication, the city has not provided answers to our questions. 

Status of 2017 West Dallas bond projects

View the West Dallas spreadsheet in a new tab

Status of 2017 South Dallas bond projects

View the South Dallas spreadsheet in a new tab

DIY 

In addition to the city’s 2017 bond website, there’s an interactive map of the projects. Follow this guide to see how to navigate the map and record the data for projects in your neighborhood. 

Funding reallocation for parks reflects shifting needs

With an allocation of over $260 million, Parks and Recreation received more bond funding in 2017 than any other proposition, except Streets and Transportation. 

But not all of that $260 million has ended up where it originally was intended.

District 7’s Wahoo Park was supposed to receive an ADA-accessible drinking fountain and a new basketball court, and funds were allocated to Willie Mae Butler Park to remove a tennis court and add two basketball courts. In the 75215 zip code, money was allocated to acquire land for a new park in the Cedars, located in District 2. And Pueblo Park, located in West Dallas’ District 6, was supposed to receive park furnishings and a drinking fountain. 

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All of these projects have been “canceled/reprogrammed.” 

Daniel Wood, who represents District 7 on the Dallas Park and Recreation Board, said Wahoo Park isn’t used as much as others in the area, and there’s already a basketball court nearby. Much of the funds reallocated in Wood’s district are now being used to complete projects at Lakeland Hills Park in East Dallas, which he says is one of the most-used parks in District 7; specifically, the park is receiving a dog park and exercise equipment.  

“I’m not saying every park doesn’t deserve something,” Wood says. “But when you have limited funds, you should try to spread it to where the most taxpayers, I think, would benefit from it.”

Instead of building basketball courts at Willie Mae Butler Park in South Dallas, Wood advocated for using the money to add a playground — an amenity that hasn’t been available at that park for years. Local kids helped choose the playground features they wanted, and a ribbon-cutting for the playground was held last week. 

“I love it when we drive by and see kids playing in the playground,” Wood says. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about families having fun in our parks.”

Also in 75215, big changes are coming to the Cedars area. Some bond funds are being used to develop a neighborhood park on a 1-acre lot near Vogel Alcove. District 2 Park and Recreation Board member Fonya Mondell, whose district includes a portion of the 75215 zip code, says the park will have a walking trail, a pavilion and materials from the Boneyard.    

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A larger amount of money is set aside for Old City Park. In late May, Dallas Park and Recreation will take over management and maintenance of the site from the Dallas County Heritage Society, which has overseen the living history museum and public park for more than 50 years.

The city is spending the money on engineering services, design and a master plan for the park, Mondell says. 

Earlier this month, before the city’s bond website malfunctioned, it showed that 2017 bond funds would be used for landscape restoration, programming, historical narrative and rebranding at Dallas Heritage Village. The city also had allocated funds to design a new entry into the site, and for parking and drop-off areas, a visitors center, a plaza, a shade pavilion and an event lawn. 

Tim Dickey, the Park and Recreation Board member for West Dallas’ District 6, says the $40,000 that was supposed to pay for furnishings and a drinking fountain at Pueblo Park had to be reallocated to another project in the district, at the Bachman Regional Family Aquatic Center. There was a shortfall in the budget, Dickey says. 

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