Monday, September 16, 2013 , Updated 12:41 p.m., November 15, 2013
UPDATEDx2: New “swing park” gets a push Friday in downtown Dallas
The swing set will no longer take up permanent residence in a parking lot in Deep Ellum.
DOWNTOWN DALLAS Dallas' first swing park opens to the young and young-at-heart in downtown Dallas this Friday. What's a swing park? It's mobile, playground-style swing-set that can pop up anywhere in Dallas after 30 minutes of set up.
The swing park is the idea of community designer Patrick McDonnell, who has spent the past year doing odd jobs around Dallas to make it a more livable, workable place. He ascribes to the "small actions lead to big impacts" model — the idea that a four-seat swing set can make Dallas a better place.
"It's not Klyde Warren. That's not the point," he said. "The point is [the swing park is] something you could do at your home. ... But it fits into the city scale." And when disassembled, it's small enough to fit in the bed of a truck. It's intended for use by anyone — not just kids.
The swing park debuts Friday at PARK(ing) Day, a yearly, global event where parking spaces in urban areas are transformed into pocket parks for only a few hours. The spaces are intended to become "urban laboratories," according to the PARK(ing) Day Dallas site, where civic-minded people can work and play. At last year's event, for instance, the green spaces became make-shift art galleries, live music venues and teeny dog parks. One of the parking spaces this year will house McDonnell's swing-set.
McDonnell calls PARK(ing) Day one of his favorite "holidays." It gives people a place to use their city, he said.
What’s a swing park?
The swing park was built from a $1,000 grant McDonnell won in July from the HOLSTEE Fellowship. The materials from Home Depot and SwingSetMall.com came out to $991.05 — just under budget. Though McDonnell sold his car and relies on a bicycle and public transportation to get around the city, he plans to borrow his brother's truck to move the swing-set to downtown Dallas on Friday.
After PARK(ing) Day, the swing park will be moved to an empty parking lot on Main Street in Deep Ellum, east of Crowdus Street. The lot is owned by 42 Real Estate, and McDonnell has been given approval to leave the swing park there for the public's free use as long as he can secure appropriate insurance. (McDonnell is finalizing insurance this week, he said.)
The swing park will reside in Deep Ellum indefinitely, or until McDonnell wants to relocate it.
"If it works, I can [create more swing parks] again and again and again," he said.
UPDATE: McDonnell needs more time before the swing park debuts in Deep Ellum. He is still securing insurance and also needs to make the swing-set sturdier. Stay tuned.
UPDATE x2: McDonnell has decided to do pop-up swing parks instead of locating the swing-set in one place, because he still has not been able to secure insurance. The swing park pops up at Art Conspiracy 9 on Saturday, November 16.