Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation Hires Mark Banta as New President of Klyde Warren Park, Linda Owen Appointed President Emeritus
DALLAS (March 7, 2012) – The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation has hired Mark Banta, a 30-year green industry and parks expert, as President of Klyde Warren Park, set to open in Fall 2012. He will succeed Linda Owen, who is being appointed President Emeritus of the Foundation. The leadership changes signal a planned shift in focus – from leading a capital campaign and construction project to operating and programming an urban park.
Banta has served as general manager for the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta since 1996 when he developed the operations and staff from inception. He managed over 220 event days per year, drawing 3.2 million annual visitors. Under his leadership, Centennial Park has won over 60 industry awards. Banta is considered a green industry expert having served in leadership roles of Georgia's major green industry and urban agriculture associations.
“We are incredibly lucky to have Mark’s depth of experience in starting the Park’s operations,” said Jody Grant, chairman of the Foundation. “Mark’s knowledge and creative approach to park programming, combined with his horticultural expertise, make him an invaluable find for Klyde Warren Park.”
“My approach to park management is to create a space that is clean, safe and active,” Banta said. “I’m already thinking well beyond our Fall 2012 opening to lay the foundation for a successful space that will become a beloved city center.”
“Banta is one of the savviest park managers I've had the pleasure to meet in my 32 years in the business," said Dan Biederman, who led the effort to restore Bryant Park in New York and has served as a key consultant to the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation for the last four years. "Mark is extremely inventive and hands-on.”
Owen has accomplished her mission as President and CEO of the Foundation in bringing the project from concept to reality by overseeing the design, development and construction phases. During her tenure, the Foundation raised more than $106 million in public and private funding. In her new role, she will serve as an advisor to the Foundation.
“Linda has led the Foundation with unparalleled passion and tenacity, achieving what many thought would be impossible,” said Grant. “We congratulate her for her pivotal role and a job well done.”
“We have successfully moved through the strategic planning, construction, funding and development phase of the project,” said Owen. “Klyde Warren Park has an exciting future, and I am ecstatic about Mark being here. He is so capable and completely committed to making our park one of the finest urban parks in America.”
Banta will move to Dallas in March after retiring from 30 years of service to the state of Georgia, including 14 years at the University of Georgia and 15 years as General Manager for Centennial Park. He also has consulted on other major parks across the country, including Discovery Green in Houston. Banta has a lifelong interest in horticulture and graduated from Berry College with a degree in agriculture.
“My family and I are excited about moving to Dallas. We have been overwhelmed by the hospitality,” said Banta. “What a tremendous opportunity to build a venue that will have a huge impact on the Dallas community.”
Construction of the base deck park continues as landscaping and amenity construction begins. Klyde Warren Park is slated for a Fall 2012 public grand opening. For more information, visit www.TheParkDallas.org.
About Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park will serve as a central gathering space for Dallas and its visitors to enjoy in the heart of the city. The 5.2-acre park will create an urban green space over the existing Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul Streets in downtown Dallas. Plans include a performance stage, restaurant, shaded walking paths, a dog park, a children’s garden, great lawn, water features, an area for games and much more.