Dallas Arboretum and City Hall Want You to Know: Winfrey Point Ain't Paradise, And They're Not Paving it Anyway

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Jay Barker
After an agreement was reached earlier to let the city mow the wild grass at Winfrey Point, both City Hall and the Arboretum have come out firing PR-wise, trying to turn the tide of support for keeping cars off of the "prairie."

Below you'll find releases sent by both City Hall, which swears it's got no plans to pave the point, and the Arboretum, which enlists a botanist who pretty much calls Winfrey Point a big patch of weeds. (I put that part in bold.)

Protesters like the ones above were out at the point all day, but they didn't get much action: The city says it won't plow before Monday.

From City Hall:

The City is pleased that the temporary restraining order is dissolved and that it can proceed forward to provide additional parking at Winfrey Point for the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society and other users of White Rock Lake. Although the City can now mow the grass and provide additional parking at Winfrey Point, the City will not do so this weekend.

The only thing the City agreed to today in court is not to construct a permanent parking structure at Winfrey Point for the time being. But the City has no plans to build such a structure there for the foreseeable future. Instead, the City and the Arboretum have been considering building a parking structure on Garland Road for several years. And contrary to what has been said by some, the City also has no plans to move or eliminate any baseball fields at the lake.

White Rock Lake is one of the City's treasures. So many people love to go to the lake that there has been a parking shortage there for years. That has resulted in many people parking in the nearby neighborhoods and businesses. The plan to allow parking on some of the grass near Winfrey Point is a temporary measure until permanent solutions to the parking problem can be developed and implemented. The City and its Park Board will continue to work with the Arboretum, the people who live and work near the lake, and the many users of the lake to develop and implement solutions to the parking shortage.

From the Arboretum:

DALLAS (May 4, 2012)- Today, the 192nd Civil District Court of Dallas County dissolved a Temporary Restraining Order and Temporary Injunction that was brought against the Dallas Arboretum earlier this week. The injunction was an attempt to halt parking at Winfrey Point, an area of White Rock Lake Park.

Winfrey Point was mowed by the city for decades and those attending events at the lake would park on the mowed areas. Due to budget constraints, in recent years, the Park Department ceased mowing Winfrey Point and the areas were permitted to grow, allowing invasive plants to become established and to spread. The plaintiffs have made allegations to create the impression that Winfrey Point is an endangered ecosystem and that it contains pristine, native grasses.

"This claim could not be further from the truth. Almost all of the grasses observed at Winfrey Point are non-native, invasive species. I identified 15 species of non-native grasses, some of which are very aggressive," said Dr. Robert O'Kennon, Ph.D. "These non-native grasses and plants at Winfrey Point need to be kept under control and appropriately mowed or eradicated to attempt to prevent their spread to and the destruction of the other regions of White Rock Lake Park with native flora. Furthermore, 'Blackland Prairie' is a soil type; it does not refer to what grows on it. There are 12 million acres of 'Blackland Prairie' in North Texas."

"Those unfamiliar with the situation are being misled by those with an agenda, and are not being given all the facts or an explanation of the various concerns," said Brian Shivers, Chairman of the Board at the Dallas Arboretum. "The top concern is that the limited parking around the lake is a safety issue for Dallas citizens who enjoy White Rock Lake as a place to run, cycle, walk and take in the scenery."

The Dallas Park and Recreation Department asked the Dallas Arboretum, experienced in event management and parking coordination, to manage parking and traffic at Winfrey Point for White Rock Lake Park events and the Arboretum. The Arboretum is also exploring partnerships with other conservation organizations to replant sections of the area with true native plants. "We want to be a good neighbor, and if requested to do so by the city, we will take care of parking for Winfrey Point and provide ideas for beautification so it continues to be a great asset for White Rock Lake," said Mary Brinegar, President and CEO of the Dallas Arboretum.

"This is a win-win for the City of Dallas. Those attending the events at Winfrey Point and visiting White Rock Lake will finally be able to park in a safe and orderly way," said Paul Dyer, Director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. "We hear many concerns from residents and lake users about the traffic congestion and parking issues at Winfrey Point. More and more people are using and visiting White Rock Lake and currently, there is inadequate parking. People visiting the lake and attending the many runs and ball games often turn to dangerous and illegal parking. Further, grass that's left unmowed is a fire hazard and threatens homes in the area."

The Arboretum and the City of Dallas, and the Park and Recreation Department are collaborating to act as good stewards to balance the use of Winfrey Point and act in the best interest of the people of the City of Dallas as a whole. The Arboretum has been on record with the city about its willingness to work with the Little League and the ball fields at Winfrey Point and has met with their leadership assuring them of such.

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67 comments
Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

No pave this week watch in middle of night when morning comes no more grass or flowers UFO dropped some type of chemicial on ground, looks an awful lot like cement.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Who are the big corporate sponsors of the Arboretum? Maybe some pressure can be applied to them as well.

And I mean it, folks. Let's all go visit the Arboretum. Let us all walk around, tell people how we feel. Be polite, be friendly, but be factual. Can someone list the members of their Board? I think a few phone calls and emails or letters to them would also be in order. Again, all nicely done, all respectfully done---unlike Mary Brinegar. Ask artists to NOT agree to perform there at concerts.

I was just mentioning her ancestry today without knowing it. The "highway" mayors of Thornton, Stemmons, Rogers and such. I was explainin g about the Accomodation and how corrupt Dallas has ALWAYS been.  All about money. All about money. I may not have much, and I have no power here, but you know, being a big cheese in Dallas is---well, it is only Dallas.

Where the West almost begins, and the East peters out.

Bill
Bill

Miss Mary Metta Brinegar's sense of entitlement comes from being the granddaughter of R.L.Thornton. whose motto was: Let Dirt Fly. (I am sure he meant in a construction sense, not in the face of actual Dallas citizens and White Rock Lake neighbors)A 276K salary as president of DABS,inc may contribute to her haughty attitude toward the "weeds of the hoi polloi" as well. Not to mention she doesn't choose to live in Dallas but in the ParkCities. 

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

"and City Hall Wants You to Know: Winfrey Point Ain't Paradise, And They're Not Paving it Anyway"

When will they say that about the Trinity River?  It is the last oasis of quiet near downtown, and City Hall now apparently wants to sacrifice it for the sake of through traffic.  

If you do not agree please sign this petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/peti...   Contact your city council person about your concerns.  This petition can also be located by just googling three words: trinity river petition.

pista
pista

Let me point out that visitors will be shuttled from Winfrey Point to the Arboretum entrance. Please consider using currently available city owned parking lots at the Bath House Cultural Center, Samuel Grand Recreation Center and Norbuck Park. 

It is ironic that the Arboretum is willing to sacrifice a unique Blackland Prairie ecosystem for the short-term benefit of the contrived manmade environment of the Arboretum.  

Whether the Arboretum parking is temporary solution or a deceptively placed stepping stone to a concrete two story parking garage – the Arboretum plan lacks imagination, is wrong headed and short sighted

Matilda of Tuscany
Matilda of Tuscany

Dallas has No lack of empty parking or arrogant twits, what it lacks are creative thinkers and problem solvers at City Hall.  Proclaiming Friday's hearing a win-win, should win Paul Dyer a retirement package.  What an insolent and disrespectful jerk.How about empty lots or nearly empty lots at:  Fair Park, White Rock Dart, Shoreview Shopping Center, Lake Highlands Town Center, The apartment lot to the North of Cafe Lago on Garland, empty church lots on Garland, etc.  Shuttle patrons from these locations.Those can be temporary while the Carboretum builds a multistory on the property they paved across the street and solves this problem THEY created.

Dr. Robert O'Kennon is WRONG!
Dr. Robert O'Kennon is WRONG!

The Dallas Arboretum isn't a "native plants only" garden.  The Dallas Arboretum has numerous exotic non-native species that have the potential to populate the park.  While there may be a few non-native grasses present at Winfrey Point, the grasses are not a threat or danger to the park in any way and do not need to be controlled.  Winfrey Point provides a unique nesting ground for many seasonal birds and butterflies.

 Dr. Robert O'Kennon, Ph.D, is not a plant and grass specialist and his comments are absurd!

guest
guest

How about building a parking garage under the new children's section since they did a 'scorched earth' approach already to clear it, they can just dig a little deeper. The arboretum used to be so nice before Brinegar took over. We used to spend many hours there.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

So the memo by Brinegar was dated April 4? Great. Y'all remember this when I and other teachers complain about how the North Dallas Oligarchy controls this city. They have it all, but deny it. But their time is running out.

How STUPID they are. They put it in an email. Thanks to whomever leaked it.

And as for "wordsmithing?" Ms. Brinegar, and I know you are reading this, your condescension cannot be overcome by playing with words.

I bet the Degolyers are spinning in their graves.

Don Abbott
Don Abbott

Until I saw the head lady of the Arboretum on the news this week, I was totally in the dark about the underlying philosophy that would be so brazen in their disregard for neighbors and neighborhoods.  Magically, her arrogant snort at a reporter when asked a simple question brought it all in focus.  The Aroboretum is run by the same type of people that run the rest of Dallas:  callous, protected from the media by monopoly, smug, brutal and ready to pave and sell what little green space that's left.  Eventually, White Rock Lake will be drained because that's some prime real estate that the original seven families want their cut of.

Joel lisius
Joel lisius

I don't agree with Arboretum, and I'm a Taurus, born 1 day after earthday a nature lover.The Arboretum should have thought of parking when they first built the place. I say they should plow down the giftshop, the main office, plus the original parking lot and build there. The city has no problem cutting residents front yards in half when they enlarge streets, it's about time they get creative. After all they will just try to screw the visitors for parking fees like they've done in the past, I'm just saying.

LCT
LCT

I lived off of Southwestern Blvd. for many years. When I would drive to the Casa Linda area to see family, I noticed that as I approached the White Rock area the temperature would drop by a few degrees.  In the summer that means a lot!  If the plans proceed to pave much of the area between the Arboretum & Winfrey Point, we're going to be adding heat hold pavement to the area.  It will cool down even less at night.  Also the grasses & trees absorb carbon dioxide & give us lovely oxygen.  Dallas air quality is pathetic already.  Why on earth would we want to do something that will further diminish the air quality and raise the temperatures?Also, at this time that area is free for all of the people of Dallas to enjoy.  The Arboretum's plans will take that away from the people. Right now we can enjoy free, natural flowers not pay some astronomical sum to see flowers planted!  I've got that in my own yard.Not to mention the fact that the heavy traffic, wider lanes for the planned shuttle buses running between Winfrey Point & the Arboretum are going to curtail the bikers, joggers, walkers & casual users of the area.Furthermore, how many of you have tried to go to the Arboretum on the weekends?  It's so crowded already it's horrible. It seems to fast be approaching the crowd level of Times Square on New Year's Eve!

Jay
Jay

Boycott the arboretum and their sponsors. Cancel your memberships. No more annual fund donations. No more concert purchases or renting their facilities. Enough is enough.

Crap Detector
Crap Detector

So how bizarre is it that we are paving over nature so that people can drive and park to view "staged nature?" I was going to buy a house in the lake/Arboretum area but no more. I fear there is a movement afoot by the "world class city" folks to make the lake area a multi-attraction development and ruin it altogether.

G_David
G_David

"Instead, the City and the Arboretum have been considering building a parking structure on Garland Road for several years."

So "several years" isn't enough time to pull your head out of your ass?  What a joke.

Sam
Sam

The approach taken by the city and arboretum has been carefully crafted - but in secret. Here is what Mary Brinegar said in an email to her Team (posted on Save Winfrey Point). They are being advised by Merrie Spaeth, a Dallas publicist who is also a commentator on KERA. Let's tell Merrie what WE think... Cancel your membership!

From Mary Brinegar to Paul Dyer et al:April 4, 2012We are on the consent agenda for tomorrow as #5. This allows us to park on Winfrey Point for up to 400 cars and to charge for parking. This was the approach discussed in the evening meeting at City Hall. Ed Perrin has worked out the legal details with Christine Lanners etc. In talking to Merrie Spaeth's office they suggested we not delay this but go forward with it tomorrow. There is significant protection in the wording saying it will be at the direction of the Park Department. We will then ask if questioned, that before doing anything we would have a consultation with three respected botanic organizations as to how best to do it and then get this information to the Park Department.I am also copying the Spaeth office to see if they suggest any more wordsmithing on the Winfrey Statement. Please let me know your thoughts. Mary Mary Brinegar President and Chief Operating Officer Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Guest
Guest

Is Winfrey Point a nursing home?

Bill
Bill

I am puzzled as to why the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society, Inc found it necessary to inflate the credentials of Mr. Bob O'Kennon in their rather haughty press release. I can find no evidence that Mr. O'Kennon holds a Ph.d in any discipline.  I acknowledge his accomplishments in the field of local botany. By attaching a Dr. to his name certainly makes me wary of anything anyone associated with the DABS has to say. Did  someone merely misspeak or was it deliberately stated to mislead?

MattL1
MattL1

Who gives a damn if Winfrey Point is the platonic ideal of a backland prairie or not? It's a really nice part of the White Rock Lake area, and it would look like shit with pavement and cars all over it. 

At any rate, once PR people start getting involved, I stop believing anything anybody says. Step below used car salesmen...

martha parks
martha parks

Paul Dye, O Kennon, and Brinegar speak horse hockie. Actually horse poo. Blah blah blah. Get the cars out of the lake area. I don't care if they are running, cycling, or smelling the flowers. 

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Oh, God, THIS IS WHY DALLAS WILL NEVER, EVER BE A WORLD-CLASS CITY!!!

Let's try this again, shall we? Parking on a grassy slope, by hundreds of cars, over weeks of time---add in rain, then dry heat. Then rain, then dry heat. What will we have by July? A big mudpit, that has dried out and left ruts big enough to catch rain in the fall and hatch mosquitoes. By next year? Oh, then, of course, the city will HAVE to pave it. See?

Do I have a Ph D? No, I live in Texas, and I have a brain. I know that when the city says it has no plans for the "foreseeable future," that really means, "Oh shit! They are on to us, dammit!"

When someone dismisses a LARGE piece of UNDEVELOPED LAND NEAR A LAKE as unimportant, then I fear his education is lacking in common sense. How will making a massive parking lot make this place any better? Who will then pay for it, maintain it, and oh yea, Doctor, MORE CONCRETE in Dallas. Yes, we don't have nearly enough.

I ask that we speak with our money. It worked with Komen Foundation. Now, I just, just rejoined the Arboretum this Spring to enjoy the blooms and see Chihuly's exhibit... So, I wrote them today when they sent me an email about this.... And I told them, I guess I will not renew my membership next year. I am disappointed that this is the path they took. I am saddedned, but not surprised, at the condescending tone of that woman on tv from the Arboretum. Maybe if a chunk of their member ships disappear, they will then hear the little guys outside the gates. Dallas leaders have NO sense of perspective, NO sense of compromise, NO sense of sensitivity on dealing with what they knew HAD to be an emotional reaction to wanting to concrete over a nice little place of wildflowers---and I really don't give a damn if they are native or not.

guest
guest

Wouldn't it make more sense to extend the White Rock Trail about a block and a half up Garland Road to allow people to get to the Arboretum by bike (or foot) and thus reduce the need for parking altogether? 

Jim Klenke
Jim Klenke

Dont think this parking isnt going to be a money maker for the carboretum.  You dont expect to park on that grass for free do you?  

Kathy Perantie
Kathy Perantie

This (by which I mean the article AND the Arboretum press release) really needs to be edited to give the credentials for Mr. O'Kennon.  Is he associated with the Arboretum or the city or an independent expert?  I see various info in the other comments but surely the authors can get the true info from Mr. O'Kennon and add it to the article.

Paul
Paul

What do we expect from a city government that wants to put a roadway in an area not only designed to flood but to contain flood waters?

If the spin were any greater on this and this were a washing machine, there would be no point in putting the clothes in the dryer.

Lunareyesc
Lunareyesc

Folks, go to www.littleforesthills.com for more information and to savewinfeypoint.com

What does the recent "open records" request for future plans at Winfrey Point REALLY call for in the future. For you birders out there, what rare birds are documented here?  What about the Federal Migratory Act?  Except for places like Clymer Meadow outside Celeste (google it) and the Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Center AND a small area at Winfrey Point, all Blackland Prairie is plowed in Texas. These true  Blackland Prairie areas are carefully being re-established. Winfrey Point is a fragile ecosystem home to rare birds and is to be cherished and valued as Texans and Dallasites. Let's not murder the land for private profit which is what this is all about. 

We need the truth of the real plans AFTER the Chihuly exhibit (an environmental artist which is ironic) is over.  This temporary parking deal is only the beginning.I am an Arboretum member but this is not the direction that should be taken.  The Aroboretumis already approaching businesses on Garland Rd. to buy for parking. Honestly, if we don't consider what we are doing about and for future generations, they will never forget us. Let's don't make White Rock Lake a development for restaurants and more parking and ruin it for all of us...the rich, the poor, the middle.

Aaron Barnes
Aaron Barnes

****SIGN THE PETITION HERE http://www.ipetitions.com/peti... ****

More slick PR.  Everyone go back to sleep, the "authorities" have everything under control.  Here goes the "reasoning"...  The city will use public land for private gain if they damn well please.  Crony capitalism is GOOD.  And you have no right to complain.  Afterall, they're doing it for the adjoining neighborhood that's so annoyed that outsiders are parking there.  You know, the SAME NEIGHBORS that were out protesting against the parking on the land and destruction of the environment today.  Its for THEIR good!  And you little leaguers better shut your mouth if you want to ever play ball again!  Seriously, how dumb do they think us "little people" are???

PROTEST ON SATURDAY MAY 5TH AT 8AM AT WINFREY PARK

Jegelewicz
Jegelewicz

Find the Corporate Sponsors here http://www.dallasarboretum.org...

Board members are herehttp://www.dallasarboretum.org... 

Also, think about this for a bit. The Dallas Arboretum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  This quite often means that the institution pays no property taxes.  If so, it is the citizens of Dallas subsidizing the DABS and yet you still have to pay to get in the gate.  At least at Winfrey Point, you can walk in and enjoy nature without a dime in your pocket.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Bill-- Remember that when you support the Mayor getting mixed up in DISD matters. Doors across town need to be shut in their faces.  All the North Dallas Oligarchy cares about is $$, whether it is from Dallas City Hall, DISD or anything else.

It is time to make them realize that WE are the City, NOT THEM.

guest
guest

Isn't she is the grand-daughter of RL Thorton and former high school classmate of Sheffie. Typical old school Dallas.

Phelps
Phelps

You mean... 1940?  Or the 2002 expansion... which is when all this started, meaning they DID think of parking when they "built the place"?

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Mary Vinegar is a joke. She reminds me of Lumpys mom on Leave it to Beaver.

guest
guest

Merrie Spaeth was the evil brain behind the "Swift Boat Veterans" attack on John Kerry during the 2004 election.  I never trusted her after that. She used to live across the street from the DABS.

Kelly Cotten
Kelly Cotten

Merrie Spaeth (Spaeth Communications) was the primary media spokesperson for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaing during the 2004 elections.  A specialist in mendacity with a smile. A perfect match for the Pave Winfrey Point crowd.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Whether it's the Arboretum or the DISD Trustees or the mayor, the method seems to be throw it out there and see if anyone cries foul.  If you get caught, quietly apologize or take it off the website or whatever.

They don't yet seem to understand the power of blogs to fact-check, follow-up, and expose.

I therefore doubt someone misspoke.  Possible, but not probable.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

That's nice, but maybe-I-won't-renew-next-year is a hollow threat.  Call them to cancel and demand a refund.

guest
guest

Does not seem by appearances that Mary Brinegar gets much walking in.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

Bike and foot access aren't the problem.  Most Arboretum visitors drive there.   The Arboretum needs to step up and either build a parking garage on their property across Garland Road or arrange for offsite parking with adequate shuttle service.

Kelly Cotten
Kelly Cotten

See my post immediately above.  While the Winfrey Point prairie remnants aren't ideal bird habitat (too small) they are nevertheless important.  And certainly more biologically useful than a concrete parking garage, Bermuda Grass desert, or lifeless dirt patch...which are the options the Arboretum would leave us with.  The rarest bird species found here would be overwintering or migrating sparrows that are grassland or grassland/marsh specialists - declining species, all.  Examples would include Baird's, LeConte's and Grasshopper Sparrows.  The first is hypothetical, but any sighting or confirmed visit would be extremely important to the survival of that species because (as you rightly point out) so little undisturbed Blackland Prairie remains along their flight corridors.  The latter two species have actually been recorded at Winfrey Point by myself and others. They DO use these grasslands, no doubt.  There is also the question of the grassland's role in filtering polluted runoff into Sunset Bay and keeping that inlet viable for other migratory species such as American White Pelicans.  This and the overwintering utility of the Winfrey Point grasslands are considerations involving the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. I believe this law has previously been invoked regarding management of these lands.

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

Diane, while there are certainly elements of what you call "the North Dallas Oligarchy" that only care about money, that proportion is shrinking.  All of us are beginning to realize more and more that we win when everyone wins.  As the graduation rate for college ready DISD students grows, we all win.  This "us" and "them" division is slowly disappearing.  We are in this together. All of us need to step forward.  But, just because we may honestly disagree does NOT mean we should stop fighting.  The honest sharing, and re-sharing of facts is for the benefit of all.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Yeah, her attitude was abysmal. Typical bourgeois royalty shtick. That's why I now refer to her as Mary Vinegar. Nasty.

Sam
Sam

The Arboretum hired the spokesperson for the swift boat campaign as their advisor!?!? Now they've really lost me...

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Teacher and Bill:your suspicions are mostly correct on all counts. City staff is notorious for stone walling, inflating, and camouflaging information that they feel is worthy. Keep I mind that under the direction of Mary Suhm, nothing comes out of the City Staff office without her approval. From watching WFAA tonight, Mary Vinegar seems to be of the same ilk but with a more haughty air.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

They won't give a refund. Oh no, I plan a better use of my membership. Think of all  the conversations I can have in line with people, as they walk around or anything else there.

evelina93
evelina93

The Arboretum has never really liked plants that like Dallas. It's done its level best to pretend that it isn't here, but in some kind of cool and mossy vale. At considerable cost, it has created its own world---which would be OK if it hadn't also supported that fantasy in sprinkled yards all over the city.

There have always been plants that are ready to take over when the Lenten roses just don't care to live here anymore. Weeds love Dallas, and Dallas is finally starting to love them back in a fussy kind of Dallas way: we like to check out the weeds' ancestry and provenance and weed-bloodlines and make sure they're "Our" pure weeds and really special. But it wasn't the Arboretum that was at the forefront of gardening with native plants, and especially with native grasses. Since it began (I always liked the nickname "Three Flowers Over Texas"), the Arboretum's been spritzing and misting its azaleas and Japanese maples and fretting about things like dahlias and delphiniums---flowers that don't want to be here and would rather die than stay and fight it out. The real display garden, making the biggest impact, is probably the new landscaping at SMU. The landscaping at some of Target's parking lots has probably changed more hearts and minds about the beauty of native plants than the Arboretum ever has. Maybe the Arboretum gave people the fantasy that they were willing to pay for. I think that an arboretum should do more than that. Ours has always seen the trends and always fought them.

guest
guest

Most people drive there because there is no other way.  There is a short stretch of sidewalk from the end of the White Rock Trail at Lawther Drive and Garland Road, but it does not extend all the way to the Arboretum's entrance.  The situation is absolutley symbolic of the problem with Dallas.  Don't provide any bike or pedestrian access and then wonder why everyone drives.

Kelly Cotten
Kelly Cotten

I just did a bit of off-the-cuff research and found a citation from Becky Rader, a Texas Master Naturalist and colleague of mine who did all the heavy-lifting on the Texas Land Steward designation for the Winfrey Point prairies, in which she mentions Dickcissel - a bird on Audbon's Watch List of declining species - as a summer resident (and presumed breeder) there. Although I haven't seen them there, it makes sense for this prairie-obligate and I assume they've returned in the last few years, long after my involvement, as the prairie has become reestablished. Yet another reason that prairie is preferable to parking.

evelina93
evelina93

And while I'm really smokin' on this topic, the Arboretum doesn't know jack about kids, either. The two things that kids really liked about the Arboretum--the rolling hill and the forest of bamboo--had been, until recently, left "unimproved ". Kids could wander the apparently trackless wastes of bamboo, whack each other over the head with the bamboo sticks, sit on the statues of the deer family, Mama, Daddy, and Bambi in turn, and then get staggering drunk in the sunshine by rolling all the way down from the heights of the DeGolyer house to the glittering waves of White Rock Lake. It was the best rolling hill in Dallas, and good, clean, brain-addling fun. Last time I went to the Arboretum, my kids were disappointed to find the rolling hill cut in half, with construction on one side, and the bamboo forest half gone, and fussed with until it was no longer a kids' paradise. Yes, the pumpkin fairy tale houses were charming and inventive, to an adult's eye. But they weren't any good for hiding or rolling, and I never noticed that kids spent any time exploring them. Their appeal, like the rest of the Arboretum, was surface-deep: they were backdrops for adults' photographs of kids looking cute, investigating each pumpkin cottage for 15 seconds. We'll look back at our photos and say, "What a good time they had", forgetting how they ran through each set piece and got bored. There won't be any pictures of the rolling hill--because how do you photograph rolling? And anyhow, the kids were having such a good time that the adults could eat lunch and ignore them for 45 minutes, and put away their cameras.

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