All of the bond propositions in the May 2 election are worthy of support. But the centerpiece of them all is Proposition 11, a $246 million package of Trinity River improvements, representing the City’s share of an estimated $1.2 billion for river-related items.

According to proponents, the bond money will be leveraged with more than a billion dollars in state and federal funds to build a “chain of lakes” in the Downtown area, bring about preserve a Great Trinity Forest Park, improve flood control through a “chain of wetlands” and levee extensions, build a new expressway inside the levees to relieve Downtown, and build trails, playing fields and other recreational facilities.

Sounds terrific, right? A lot of people think it does, and are convinced it is our best opportunity yet to actually do something worthwhile with the Trinity. If you go back and brush up on your Dallas history, you’ll see that a major recurring theme is “hey, I’ve got a brainstorm – let’s do something useful with the Trinity River.”  This idea probably occurred to John Neely Bryan 150 years ago as he gazed out of his log cabin, and we’ve been talking about it ever since.

The proposal has some detractors,  who, in all fairness, make some thought-provoking points. The main objections seem to be on environmental grounds, that is, that the levees will push floodwaters downstream and that the planned flood control system is flawed and will damage the natural state of the River.

There is probably some merit to these objections, but my answer to them is, as Mick Jagger sang in my youth, you can’t always get what you want.

The plans obviously are not perfect, but if we don’t try to carry them out now, we may continue to waste time for who knows how many more decades collectively navel-gazing about how nice it would be if someone did something with the Trinity.

I consider myself a pretty hard-line environmentalist, but there are people whose opinions I respect on both sides of this debate. We would be foolish to pass up this chance to try to make the river an invaluable civic asset instead of a glorified drainage ditch and the location of choice for dumping bodies.

By the way, there are parts of the river just a few miles south of Downtown Dallas that are areas of great natural beauty already, along with what is reputed to be the largest stand of forest within any American big city. I believe that the plan would ultimately help preserve most of these areas, too.

And that billion-dollar jackpot from Washington and Austin is probably reason enough by itself to vote yes. I think the time is ripe to vote for a package of improvements that will do something positive with the Trinity River, even with the plan’s imperfections.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent most of my life since 1962 here, I’m tired of us just noodling about the river, and I’m real tired of waiting for us to do something.

Jonathan Vinson, a neighborhood resident, writes a monthly opinion column about neighborhood issues. His opinions are not necessarily those of the Advocate or its management. Send comments and ideas to him at 6301 Gaston, Suite 820, Dallas 75214; FAX 214-823-8866; or e-mail to

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.