Saw a story on Channel 5 last night, which follows below, about how Chad Lacerte's building a wakeboard park up in Allen -- you know, the one that was supposed to open on Fish Trap Lake last summer
, before Dallas Housing Authority president Mary Ann Russ drowned it last July. Not so long ago, Lacerte's proposed $2.1-million West Dallas development, known as the Dallas Watersports Complex, looked like the surest of sure things. After all, it passed the City Plan Commission, the council's Economic Development Committee and
the full council without a single nay
. Lacerte's project was embraced by city officials, who were only too happy to give him a $250,000 economic grant to make something out of nothing.
But then Russ cut the cables
, insisting she wouldn't OK the park till the DHA completed its master plan for the lake and surrounding area. Albert Huddleston -- Bunker Hunt's son-in-law and a Park Cities developer -- got involved, funding nonprofits who began protesting the park. Then there was a dispute over water quality
. And Lacerte thought about suing
. Or taking the whole thing to Denton
. Tom Leppert, who championed the project during his tenure as mayor, told Unfair Park last summer
he was disappointed and surprised when the thing fell apart. But he suggested: He knew
The jobs that are created are perhaps not the jobs that an older generation would want to have there. Nevertheless, those are jobs that may put a kid through school, so in that sense they are valuable. Other people may want retail instead, and both of the objectives can be reached -- a watersports facility and do some retail elements as well as some of the other things, like local clinics.
Ultimately, Lacerte tells Unfair Park this morning, the whole thing fell apart after Russ sent him an email on February 21, in which she wrote that the DHA board would not consider moving ahead with the Dallas Watersports Complex without a business plan. Lacerte coudn't believe it. (Her email, and his response sent this morning, follow.)
"This is a person I'd worked with for two years, and she kept changing the time frame and the objectives, and it was absolutely ridiculous," Lacerte tells Unfair Park this morning. "Everything was approved by the city. I don't blame the city one bit --
except the old mayor [Leppert]. Everyone else at the city did their job. I needed
DHA to give me right of way access. That's all I needed. A signature.
And we would have had a $2-million development in West Dallas. I'm not the
one who chased it away. DHA did."
Still, Lacerte says he'd still be willing to build the wakeboard park in Fish Trap Lake. Even after all he's been through.
still have hope," he says. "I'm still interested in dong something there. There
are only a certain number of lakes we can do this on in DFW, and if it's
popular I want to do it there. But they're not making it easy. I went there
first because I was trying to change an area. I could have gone to any
of these other cities before West Dallas, and I didn't do that. Nonprofits began saying we didn't involve them. I'd been working with the neighborhoods. I worked at Westmoreland Heights Community Center once a week. It was crooked from the get-go. But I'd still do it if there's a change in the DHA leadership."
Here's last night's piece from KXAS-Channel 5: