See, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, or: Poor Main Street Garden Has Some Issues

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Photos by Patrick Michels
Ever since the park opened last fall, the generically named "Cafe" has been awaiting its proper name, the Lily Pad.
Well, so much for the Lily Pad opening today in Main Street Garden.

Rudy notes that Park and Rec has sent word that someone kicked in the park eatery's bathroom door last night, which means that certificate of occupancy will have to be put on hold till repairs are made. Which frustrates chef and Lily Pad operator Doug Brown of Beyond the Box: "I guess it's not meant to be," he tells Unfair Park this afternoon. But it's also not the end of the world: "We're working through it here," he says, adding that he still hopes to get the breakfast-lunch-and-dinner-serving space up and running by week's end.

"We're good," Brown says. "We've got a couple of little issues. We might be ready to roll by the end of the week. We're just working through a little glitch in the city system."

Willis Winters, Park and Rec's assistant director, tells Unfair Park that city officials are working with Dallas Police to see if there's any footage on the downtown surveillance cameras that'll reveal what happened -- and who did it. Right now, Park and Rec's characterizing this as "an act of vandalism."

That glitch, though, appears to be a significant one: security around the park, or lack thereof. John Crawford, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas, which has put a lot of time and even more money into Main Street Garden, acknowledges that the park's secure "only to the extent we do have Dallas police cameras there, our safety patrol and maintenance people in and out of the park." But, he says, Downtown Dallas will look to see "how severe a problem it may be." Right now, he says, it's just too soon to tell.

Brown says sure, he's concerned "a little ... but it's downtown, and things are gonna happen, and it's a shame -- it doesn't even make sense -- but what are you gonna do?"

And while we're on the subject of severe problems at Main Street Garden ...

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I hope you saw Rudy's story on Sunday about how the playground at Main Street Garden's more likely to fry your children than keep 'em busy. It wasn't awful when we were out there for Homegrown weekend before last, but my wife has always wondered how that stainless-steel was gonna heat up come summer. And now we have our answer: to a chilly 138 degrees.

Winters says the city was also concerned during the park's initial design and construction phase, but was reassured that, look, don't worry about a thing. But now, Winters tells Unfair Park, "our concern has proven to be founded."

Which means a solution is needed -- like, right now. To that end, warning signs will be placed in the park this week, Winters says. And Park and Rec is talking to the designer about building a permanent shade structure over the playground.

There were other options, like ripping out the equipment and starting over. Or: coating the stainless steel with something to keep it from achieving "sizzle." But, no, Winters says. Those options aren't viable. Too expensive, mostly.

Question is, who'll pay for the shade? Because the city sure ain't got the dough. And Downtown Dallas has already pitched in to keep the fountain operating for more than two hours a day.

"That's one of those things where we've got to find the money somewhere," Crawford tells Unfair Park ."You can't leave something like that open-ended. We'll figure it out. Everyone's worked too long and hard on the park to let something hold us up from making it 100 percent."

Winter says the city may have to use capital funds earmarked for downtown. Either that, or some kind of private-public partnership with Downtown Dallas. "But the first thing is to get it addressed," he says. In the meantime, kids: Do. Not. Touch.
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