Former Council Member Julia Burgen’s Dream of Keeping Arlington Beautiful

Former Arlington City Council member Julia Burgen is well-known for her environmental activism in The American Dream City.

When her family moved to Arlington in the 1980s, Burgen returned to school at The University of Texas at Arlington to get a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis on biology and science. As a grad student at UTA, she wrote a trail guide to what later became River Legacy Parks, a 1,300-acre urban oasis following the curves of the Trinity River in north Arlington.

In 1995, Arlington city leaders were trying to determine how to address chronic residential flooding along Johnson Creek. One proposal was to use federal funding to turn the creek into a concrete-lined channel. Burgen, who was on the Arlington Conservation Council, fought to preserve the creek. She argued that the area should be turned into park land to address the flooding problem. The council decided to approve Julia Burgen’s plan with a 5 to 4 vote.

Burgen would go on to make a significant impact on protecting and enhancing the environment here in Arlington, serving as a City Council Member representing District 5 for six years (1997-2003). It’s a passion she continues to exude in 2018.

“National parks, national monuments, all of these places are wonderful. They belong to all of us. They are our heritage,” Burgen said.

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May 26, 2018 will mark the one-year anniversary of the opening of the park dedicated in her name, Julia Burgen Park, located at 1008 Ruby Street. The 66-acre linear park is a dream come true for Julia Burgen and many residents living in central Arlington. The park features a mile-long hike and bike trail, about two dozen parking spaces, benches, a covered playground for ages 2-5 and 5-12, swings, a bike rack and a pavilion available for rent.

“This park is a dream come true and the dedication event itself was something a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to have and appreciate,” Burgen said.

In the Johnson Creek Corridor Plan, Arlington plans to eventually create a series of linked linear parks that stretch from Gateway Park near the Parks at Arlington mall up to the Richard Greene Linear Park near AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park. The Julia Burgen Park closes the gap between Vandergriff Park and Meadowbrook Park as outlined in the plan.

Click here to watch all of the American Dream Chapter videos on the City of Arlington’s YouTube channel. You can also visit arlington-tx.gov/news/tag/american-dream-city/.

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