The Bureaucrats Are Trying to Ruin White Rock Lake Again, but the Lake Will Not Abide

Categories: Schutze

whiterocknightmare.jpg
Wikipedia
City Hall's vision for the White Rock Lake of the future.
The people who love and defend White Rock Lake Park are not idiots and nutcases. They went to war two years ago against a plan to mow Winfrey Point meadow and turn it into a commercial parking lot, because they did not want a commercial parking lot in a beautiful park. But five months later they reached a peaceful accommodation, after some brouhaha, with a Park Cities rowing club that wanted to build a clubhouse. That was for rowing. Rowing's OK, right?

That's the thing about an urban park like White Rock. Its entire and intrinsic value is that it is not the city but an escape from the city, a respite from the city, a place you go to do non-city things like have a picnic or fly a kite, fish, paddle a kayak, feed the gulls, snooze on the grass.

The people who wanted to build a parking lot at Winfrey Point were the idiots and the nutcases. The hardy alliance of neighborhood associations, naturalists, park-lovers and friends of the lake who rose up to defeat the parking lot were the sane ones: They got what the park is for.

Now comes Round Three: the proposed restaurant on Boy Scout Hill.

Private parties want to build a commercial restaurant on parkland at the northern end of the lake, just off Mockingbird. They are conducting what is being called a "listening tour" to see how the neighborhoods and other defenders of the lake feel about giving parkland away so somebody can stick a business inside the sanctuary of the park.

Bad. That's how they feel. Yesterday I talked to Michael Jung, chairman of the White Rock Lake Task Force, a consortium of neighborhood associations and friends groups. He said the task force, in a non-binding straw vote , voted unanimously against the restaurant.

Jung takes heart in recent statements by city park director Willis Winters, who said he won't recommend the idea to the park board if public sentiment remains overwhelmingly negative. Jung trusts Winters. "We've all heard park department officials vow transparency over the years," he said, "but the feeling among people I talk to is that Winters actually means it."

Still, Jung worries. Past experience has been that the worst threats to White Rock tend to come not so much from the level of the director but from some murky lower tier. Somehow a cadre of deeply embedded career employees got the idea that every city asset should be looked at as a revenue source. And they can't get over it.

To this day, nobody has unearthed the precise mechanism by which The Dallas Arboretum was able to pursue for as long and as far as it did its Tear Down Paradise plan for a parking lot, but many close observers suspect there was close collaboration with park department personnel who saw it as a chance to collect royalties.

When the friends of the lake jaw-boned the Park Cities rowing club into shaving off the second-story rental ballroom from their proposal, the Parkies openly thanked them for getting them out of it, explaining they had been pressured to beef the thing up by park department personnel hoping to share in rental revenues.

Now we have this idea for a restaurant on parkland, which the lake needs like it needs a used car lot. Restaurants belong on restaurant land. Parkland is for parks. Who doesn't get that? OK, now you see the pattern, right? We know who doesn't get it. And now you know why Mike Jung is still worried.

All the initial guarantees offered by promoters of the restaurant were that the idea would go straight into the dumpster if the community opposed it. But past experience has left the community jaded. They know that backers of an idea like this can stitch together an alliance of mid-level city employees with some wack-a-doo park board members who want to give everything away anyway to their rich friends. All of a sudden you've got another Winfrey Point.

If so the restaurant guys are going to learn the same hard lesson that the Arboretum and the rowing club did: The friends of White Rock Lake never sleep. They see you coming. And they are street fighters.

"You already see the yard signs appearing in some neighborhoods," Jung said. "Can the T-shirts be far behind?"

Personally, I prefer torches.


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78 comments
wontunow
wontunow

Rowing's OK, right?

No.  The rowers are screwing up the fishing off the bank.

MisterMean
MisterMean

Dallas-pimping the citizens every step that they can.

rusknative
rusknative





















I guess all those fine restaurants and lodges on National Park Land like Grande Canyon must be the result of nutcases, revenue crazy Feds,  and conservative misfits to America.  

better the liberal progressives decide for everyone what goes where, when, why and for whose benefit.


hail the snail darter, snowy owl, smelt, lizards, and nevada turtle population.....and close down the little restaurant on the Fair Park Grounds.


Schutze, you are NEVER happy much are you?



Better Dallas should revel in St Patty on Greenville, beer battered fried foods, and South Dallas victims.

rusknative
rusknative

I guess all those restaurants and lodges on National Park land, like the





















I guess all those fine restaurants and lodges on National Park Land like Grande Canyon must be the result of nutcases, revenue crazy Feds,  and conservative misfits to America.  

better the liberal progressives decide for everyone what goes where, when, why and for whose benefit.


hail the snail darter, snowy owl, smelt, lizards, and nevada turtle population.....and close down the little restaurant on the Fair Park Grounds.


Schutze, you are NEVER happy much are you?



Better Dallas should revel in St Patty on Greenville, beer battered fried foods, and South Dallas victims.






















aaronstew2003
aaronstew2003

the park doesn't need development nor restaurants.  I do think its worth pursuing however, something more reasonable and in keeping with the lake's history, like concession stands or sandwich stands, etc. that could be fun.

lazarus
lazarus

Speaking of the existing rowing facility, if you want to see how the City of Dallas operated on this similar venture, do an open records request for a copy of White Rock Boat House and Pump House entertainment venue contract agreement. A real laugh heavily favoring the developers! And what else did the citizens of Dalles get? Yelling and screaming on AMPLIFIED BULLHORNS on a serene lake and a cheap, huge, trashy ugly metal building on the shoreline of White Rock Lake right next to the architecturally significant pump house. Absolutely destroyed the shoreline and the view. All done under the public radar. Dallas United Crew will be more of same !   Until political charlatans who have been running east Dallas for the past 2 decades are run out of office and replaced by people who value nature and the environment over the buck,expect more of same. Until then Dallas taxpayers should remember, a sucker is born every minute.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Make it a place like Goodfriend and I would be for it.  The problem is, the government always screws it up, so we'll end up with something more like that Gas Monkey abomination.  

tbarker1
tbarker1

Hal again. There are also going to be issues with the total footprint of the facility. We call this the Zone of Influence, meaning the area the Park Board would give them for increased parking, new construction, trails, and perhaps even a fence to demarcate their private property. This could be as much as 8 acres if you look at the map, but that would be up to the Park Board. There is a good sized group of trees on the property. They will have to make a road through the trees in one place and probably another cut for sewer and water. Then maybe thinning out the trees and underbrush to give a good sight line down to the water. We just don't know these details yet.


We've also been talking about how they will deal with patrons wanting to get off the building premises and deck with alcohol in hand. Alcohol is prohibited in the Park per se, but the Park Board will give a waiver for the restaurant. My educated guess is the City will require a fence to mark the area where alcohol is allowed and where you can go to jail if you have a drink in hand. The Arboretum has a nice fence saying Trespassers will go to jail, but inside the DMZ you can have open drinks. So I see some sort of fence. Could be wrong. Probably right.



MarieCecile
MarieCecile

The Highland Park boat house snuck by and will destroy a beautiful piece of shoreline that will be gone forever.  It will take a wonderful area currently used for  fishing and picnicking by people from all over the city and turn it into a private venue.  There is a perfectly good boat house across the lake.  It is a sad situation and the lack of trust in our city representatives which allowed this monstrosity has helped fuel the Boy Scout Hill campaign. 


Tolldya
Tolldya

It would be wonderful to see this kind of enthusiasm for other natural areas of the city as these fighters show for WRL.  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Isn't there some sort of state law that prohibits the sale or lease of dedicated parkland by municipalities without a special election on the issue by the voters of said municipality?  Is this why they might be looking at a conglomerate of non-profits, to take advantage of some loophole in the law?  Aren't there plenty of vacant and dead lots in the area?  I'm not usually one of the granola-nut crowd, but dammit!, can we have at least one nice place to go in the city without having to fall under the shadow of rampant commercialism?

casiepierce
casiepierce

Remember, Willis wasn't always the director. I believe that he HAS the respect of his mid-level employees and I do not for one second think that he will tolerate any sort of secret back-room dealings with weak-kneed Park Board members. He is exactly the man we've needed to helm that department for years and years. Willis "gets it".

roo_ster
roo_ster

Yep, because what Dallas needs is yet another public/private partnership that will hemorrhage dollars and bulldoze some of the few remaining green bits allowed to poke up through the pavement.

lawsuth
lawsuth

Somewhat better lighting in antiquated styling is what I most care about.

If there's to be food, I don't want to hear the ongoing din of unwelcome music as I walk the lake. The reason I go to WRL is to be relieved of such passive assaults.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Can't they just fill the lake in, open a sports/entertainment/shopping extravaganza, and relocate the lake to the empty area below the funny-looking bridge?

They could even install a standing wave for Dallas surfers.

tbarker1
tbarker1

This is Hal. One of the original "nut jobs" from Winfrey Point along with brother Ted. The developer contacted Ted and Becky back in November for a sit down. Since then, the project has up scaled considerably. See Pavethelake.wordpress.com and SaveBoyScoutHill.org


The photo we have is fuzzy but that is the best we can do for now. We had a meeting with Rick Kopf at Boy Scout Hill last Saturday along with some of our associates from the neighborhood. Believe me, the spirit of Winfrey Point is alive and well and growing every hour. The new activists are relentless since this is their backyard. And these activists are not slackers or beatniks. Think high level degrees and employment and long histories of getting involved.


The program we have been told is to have a group of nonprofits apparently form a business partnership, build the restaurant for about 6 or 7 Million, and then somehow work out some sort of agreement with an unnamed restaurant group to actually run the facility. A major problem is we don't have any idea what chain will actually run the facility of about 8500 square feet with a 6000 square foot deck.


We have no idea what kind of investors will fund this project or how the City really fits in.


We do know the figure of $250,000 provided to the park would be a target amount to justify the project. To put this in perspective, $250,000 would replace one dock at the lake or replace the Bath House artwork now under review. In other words, it would take at least $1,000,000 a year guaranteed to make the numbers work helping the lake. But that is just technical stuff.


They will roll up the Blackland Prairie and put it somewhere else, maybe in a Tree Museum. The City then wraps up all the Land Steward signs and the Land Steward Plaque and sends them all back to Austin with a Thanks But No Thanks.


The plans as they are call for a hard right entry and exit on Mockingbird and the same on the Buckner southbound down ramp.  So this would probably be a full stop at a stop sign, then entry directly into the fast lanes of Mockingbird and the acceleration lanes of the Buckner down ramp. We are told they haven't consulted the City on the traffic issues yet but knowing City Council, that will not be an impediment to lots of very interesting interactions between motor vehicles. 


Traffic is a major issue for the community since the restaurant and bar will generate from 100,000 to 200,000 vehicle trips per year based on an estimated $5,000,000 gross and plate costs of anywhere from $10 to $25. 


Think Savor on Klyde Warren park or Sneaky Petes or perhaps Chuys in Austin. Parking is set for 160 vehicles and we have read of estimates of 40% of the clients will come from walkers, runners, and bicycle riders using the lake. Apparently the existing rock surface parking down by the lake will provide overflow parking. Jim, that means your boathouse parking is under scrutiny. 


We haven't gotten into a City Council waiver of the park alcohol laws yet, or the issues with live bands and music a la Sneaky Pete's. One of the new very expensive houses going up right across Buckner is 1000 feet from the proposed location. We (collectively) haven't talked to them yet. I'll bet they would not be pleased. Maybe they can help fund the signs and brochures.


Another aspect is the new Hike and Bike is going in shortly, the DUC boathouse is about to be built, and the construction for the restaurant would be for an reported opening in 2016. So all these milllions of dollars of construction will happen at the same time in the same place. Think big construction site for years. I forgot the Dog Park construction. This is talking hundreds of workers onsite.


All I can say is JUST SAY NO!!! The devil is in the details.



rare_roses
rare_roses

Paving Boy Scout Hill and building another Dallas restaurant is wrong. This is

the very spot where the City accepted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Lone Star

Land Steward Award for preserving the meadows around White Rock. (You can see

the video at saveboyscouthill.org.) Dallas residents should be proud that it

was the first such award to a Texas city that had the foresight to preserve a

natural oasis.

Boy Scout Hill has been appreciated by wildlife and wildflower enthusiasts for

decades and many, many species have been documented by photographers and

naturalists.

Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops rally there. Cyclists, runners, and dog walkers

see waxwings, Baltimore orioles, scissor-tailed fly catchers, yellow headed

blackbirds, and kingbirds. In the spring you can see cut-leaf daisies, Mexican

hats, Indian paint brushes, purple cone flowers, verbena, and prairie primrose.

It is a great place to take a picture of your children in the wild flowers. Or

have a picnic and watch the kids fly a kite. In short, it is a great place to

do the things that parks are for. None of these things mix well with booze and

traffic. That is why alcohol is banned in the park now!

Greed is driving this and nothing more. It is pure arrogance when developers

take a treasure like the blackland prairie that has been here since buffalo

grazed and pave it over, thinking that they can do better than nature. Their

arrogant belief that it is better to have yet another place to go get something

to eat and a drink, than to have a place where the eye can take in the earth,

the sky and God's creatures and let the soul rejuvenate is nothing short of

asinine.

Threeboys
Threeboys

Within 2 miles of the lake.


Casa Linda Plaza

Hillside Village

Lake House at Lawther & NW Hwy

Garland & Peavy - 20 Feet, Goodfriends etc

Whatever they call the area where Gaston & Garland intersect

Buckner & Northcliff

NW Hwy & Abrams


So many others.  Why cannot the patrons of WRL eat at the dozens of restaurants within spitting distance of the lake? 



Tonto
Tonto

@wontunow ..........AND DISRUPTING WILDLIFE AND QUIET ENJOYMENT AS WELL!!!!!

aaronstew2003
aaronstew2003

@lazarus  I'm at the lake every week, and the pumphouse monthly but I've never noticed a big metal building right next to it, on the shoreline which destroys the view?


scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@everlastingphelps Goodfriend is mighty pretentious, I'm shocked.  They don't allow free discourse there, I'm surprised you like it. 

tbarker1
tbarker1

@Tolldya  Hal here. Just take a look at what happened after the Winfrey Point Rowdies and friends were invited down to Pemberton's Big Spring. Nice tree event last week and some real environmental work after a fantastic team effort to change the hearts and minds of the City. We were only a cog in that team effort but the disclosure of the contamination at the Texas Horse Park was a big help to the flora and fauna activists who had been working down there for years to save the area. Good people are everywhere; sometimes they just don't now how to put the final pieces of the puzzle together and need a tiny bit of help with details.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@RTGolden1 As with Kelo, if a duly elected body decides, it is the will of the people.  There is no sale or transfer, just a rezoning of use of a parcel of land.  The proceeds ostensibly go to the city.  So, there are no obvious issues.  (Which is NOT to say I support this use)

StowellCA
StowellCA

@casiepierce  I hope you are right, but Willis let it get this far and could have stopped it, by just saying no. Also, Willis (UT SoA 1980) is an architect by education and a classmate of the lead developer, architect Lyle Burgin (UT SoA 1981). I really hope that Willis will do the right thing, but I'm fighting nonetheless. Willis Winters could have said, "What? Development in the park? No way, you must be crazy to even think of destroying native prairie grasses, wildlife habitats, and open space that the City values and cannot replicate." Parks are important for a reason!

tbarker1
tbarker1

@Oxtail  The footprint is too small. The Dreyfuss Club was much smaller, maybe 1/6 of the size of the proposed restaurant. Access was the key issue back in November when I talked to the developers. They were worried about traffic and resident blow back. Same with the Bath House.

Greg820
Greg820

@TheRuddSki  Not sure why the Parks Dep't doesn't charge a dollar to tumble down the spillway after rainy days.  However, the thought of relocating the lake to the Trinity River bottoms is so absolutely ludicrous that with only one billionaire behind it it could be a done deal tomorrow.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

@tbarker1 What about all the running events that take place at WRL? A minor issues, but one to consider nonetheless.


As I understand it, City Hall is clamping down on race courses because too many go through neighborhoods. (And I do not blame residents for getting annoyed.) So, naturally, WRL is a great place for a course.


Even on a regular Saturday morning, traffic around Boy Scout Hill gets backed up and drivers get annoyed. Imagine the increased traffic from a restaurant (that presumably will serve breakfast?) and that impact.

Greg820
Greg820

@rare_roses  It reminds me of all the bone-headed projects constructed around Niagara Falls.  An awesome place of beauty that just could not be left alone.  One project even wanted to completely enclose the falls for power generation.  Humans are stupid creatures.

Oxtail
Oxtail

@Threeboys  The desire is for safe direct lake access which by your list, The Lakehouse is the only one. The hope is LPC will work with the city to build a connector off the Santa Fe Trail, but nobody knows what restaurants may be at Gaston/Garland.There is commercial property (the old medical buildings) behind Barbec's across Emerald Isle from Autumn leaves that a developer has plans for. There was talk of building a "live-shop-eat" thing there at one time. 


I'm not for/against a new restaurant yet but I do have a personal and professional stake in this.

lazarus
lazarus

@aaronstew2003 @lazarus you gotta be kidding! Either you need glasses or you are associated with the rowing venue! go stand on the east side of the lake at Winfrey Point look out which was formerly one of the most beautiful views in Dallas before metal building or go try and walk shore to north of pump house.

Tolldya
Tolldya

@tbarker1 @Tolldya  That is much appreciated and precisely the kind of effort that is needed across the city.  I think these efforts are the representation of the positive movement that needs to protect these special places and places not yet recognized.  We can't stop with one or two but all of them.  Look west to the escarpment or the floodplain.  Everything is under threat.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@scottindallas @RTGolden1That is not how it is spelled out in the state law.  The state law says the sale must be approved by the registered voters of the municipality at an election.  Dedicated parkland, to my understanding, is specifically protected under TX law.  Also, proceeds from the sale or lease of parkland MUST be used to acquire land for the same uses the conveyed tract was used for.

I'm not sure if this is something I would support.  Certainly if they limited access to pedestrian trails or boats and minimized vehicular traffic AND specifically identified ONE access avenue for cyclists, I might support it.  This is Dallas, ain't gonna happen.  There will be a four-lane vehicle access from at least two streets and acres of parking lot put in.  No thank you.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@StowellCA @casiepierceKeep in mind, Willis has to do the same political side-stepping that the City Manager has to do. But he does not answer to the City Manager, he is the de facto "City Manager" of the Park and Rec Department. He, too, can count to nine. he will have to play both sides to make certain people happy, but I trust that Willis has the interests of the city as a whole (at least at it pertains to his role in his capacity) better than our last city manager had for the city as whole. Call me a Polyanna; I have faith in Willis Winters to do the right thing(s).

Greg820
Greg820

@tbarker1  Dallas does not rebuild.  Dallas tears down and builds something newer and shinier. And then in 10 years tears that down for something even newer and shinier.  Ad infinitum.



Oxtail
Oxtail

@tbarker1  Traffic is a concern. But my hope is that any kind of proposed restaurant would encourage more biking/walking as the trails around Dallas connect rather than more driving. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Greg820

If you'd like, I could call one of the Koch boys.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Greg820 @rare_rosesRoyal Gorge in Colorado also comes to mind.  I believe it could be accurately re-named the Pepsi-Co Attraction of Royal Gorge by now.

deep-sigh
deep-sigh

@Oxtail @ThreeboysThe LOT is accessed from the Santa Fe Trail as well.  If they need a project...buy out the discount liquor stores and the public storage facilities on both sides of garland/winsted and redevelop all that space into something pretty.

lazarus
lazarus

@aaronstew2003 @lazarus thanks for the reminder ...just took my Thorazine-Prozac cocktail...try google map

aaronstew2003
aaronstew2003

@lazarus thanks for making acucsations, but neither of them is true.  im saying i dont see a big obtrusive metal building right smack beside the pumphouse. maybe ive overlooked it on all my trips by winfrey point or to the pumphouse. now that i know its to the north i will be sure to look for it though.  thanks, and try and calm down some, its good for your health. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @scottindallas a simple non-partisan, non contentious political conversation was being enjoyed by 4-5 folk, Tobin walked up and insisted we change the subject.  Fucking fascist pretentious asshole.  The name must be understood to utterly ironic.  DOUCHEBAGS is more fitting

tbarker1
tbarker1

@Tolldya @tbarker1  We are also supporting the effort at Beck's Creek for the great spring and the blue stem prairie remnant.  


tbarker1
tbarker1

@Greg820 @tbarker1  Hal here. I think they are talking a 30 year occupancy then back to the City or something like that. We are hearing different concepts. The probability is the whole deal is for the sizzle and not the steak and the rainmakers get on down the road fairly quickly. We have not been able to get a clear business model, but the way that works is the City Council approves a concept, Park staff deals with the whole thing administratively out of the public eye, and you get the clear picture after the construction plans are approved. The current design can and probably will be very different with a whole new set of players.

Oxtail
Oxtail

@casiepierce Me for 43 years and my family for 104.

tbarker1
tbarker1

@casiepierce @Oxtail @tbarker1  Going on 33 years in Dallas, 13 years right next to Winfrey Point. Family from East Texas and Canada. My brother and I and the dogs have racked up a bit more than 9000 trips to the lake walking, and I have thousands of miles on a bike. Over 20 years dealing with the Park Department and DPD on safety and environmental issues. So not a newbie. We are renters so don't count as stakeholders or substantive citizens, and we can't belong to neighborhood associations, so we are free-lance citizens at best.

Greg820
Greg820

@TheRuddSki  Get 'em on the phone!  All that empty space left by the lake relocation would be perfect for a tar sands processing plant.

Oxtail
Oxtail

@deep-sigh You are correct. In my mind I was clumping that with Garland/Gaston. 

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