Service that made the difference
MIKE McGEE | 2/13/2015, 9:42 a.m.
The Dallas Examiner
“Passion” and “compassion” were the words Gail Terrell employed when she described the positive characteristics she draws upon to serve the community in her position as a member of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. Terrell, who is also the vice president of the board, said that the traits were instilled in her while growing up in Louisiana.
“I think it came from my family and its upbringing of me in terms of their passion about certain things that they saw that needed to happen.”
She also identified a sense of civic involvement as a hallmark of her family.
“I don’t think about it. It’s an automatic for me. I’ve been doing public service for many years,” she added as she discussed putting her qualities into action to help better the Southern Sector of the city.
Terrell began her career at City Hall in 1988 when former Councilman James Fantroy tapped her to serve on the board of the Office of Cultural Affairs. In 2007, Terrell was appointed to the Park Board by Councilman Tennell Atkins. She is also part of the Planning and Design Committee for the Parks Board and chairs the Send a Kid to Camp program.
Donald Payton, a resident in her district, offered high praise for the board under Terrell’s leadership.
“She’s kind of ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with us and we get first-class service from them,” he stated.
Payton is the family historian for the Miller family of Southern Dallas. Land once owned by John Miller, a freed slave who became a successful farmer, was gifted to the city five decades ago to create the Miller Family Park. In July 2013 the park was reopened during a Miller family reunion after extensive revamping of the neglected facilities.
“It was one of the worst parks that I had in my district in terms of its condition,” Terrell admitted.
She noted that she tackled the project in the same manner she has employed to improve all of the other parks under her watch – she worked with the council, the community and her own board to bring about the upgrades. Some of the additions to Miller Family Park include a new pavilion, paved parking, walking trails, and a monument describing the family’s history.
Another project that Terrell got behind was the revitalization of College Park. The chairwoman pointed out with pride that improvements to the park were highlighted in Dwell, a national magazine devoted to modern architecture.
Her latest efforts have been focused upon the coming Singing Hills Recreation Center.
The new center will replace the original 1973 building with a 20,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility next to a DART rail station on Patrol Way and Crouch Road in Oak Cliff, Terrell indicated. A connecting outdoor plaza for concerts, movies and other events will be built between the center and the rail station.
The project broke ground Dec. 16, 2014; Terrell estimated the project would be completed in the later part of 2016. She lauded the efforts of Atkins in helping to get the project off the ground.