The White Rock Lake Boathouse is Just the Latest Attack on Inner-City Dallas

The lesson of the Highland Park Party Barge is the lesson of Winfrey Point is the lesson of 30 years of history in East Dallas. At key rubber-meets-the-road moments, City Hall becomes the single worst enemy that inner city neighborhoods can confront.

Forgive the Parkies, for they know not how goofy they are. Of course they want a botanical garden modeled on Disney World, and of course they want a boathouse the size of that cruise ship the ship-abandoning Italian guy tipped over onto an island.
For them, life is a reality TV show -- Donald Trump meets Jersey Shore. It's wrong to despise people for acting out their nature.

One of the staunch defenders of White Rock Lake told me last week he was really glad the Park Department tried to peddle green space near the lake for a parking structure and then played footsy with the Parkies on the Love Boat deal. He said it takes this kind of stuff to make new generations of inner city dwellers aware of the problem.

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Now We Have to Build a Boat House on White Rock Lake? Is the Park Not Good Enough?

Twenty years ago, White Rock Lake was a dump. The park was run-down. The lake itself was half-filled with silt. The main activity out there at night was people having intercourse in cars and then going to the bathroom on the lawns of nearby houses. Good times.

The strong souls who lived near the lake banded together in a magnificent effort to "Save the Lake," as they called their campaign. And they pulled it off. It's a really wonderful chapter in the city's history, a story about something small and people-driven going right in Dallas for a change.

The lake was dredged. The park was cleaned up with a great deal of volunteer effort that's still ongoing. The cops convinced people that fishing and picnicking are more fun than having intercourse. Well, wait. I'm not sure how that one worked exactly.

All I know is that you go out there now, and you see people having a wonderful time running, biking, picnicking, sailing, fishing. The lake has become the closest thing we've got in Dallas to a wonderful central park.

But now, wouldn't you know it, just when everything is all lined up properly and in place, the Park Cities Arbo-Calatravitites are descending on the lake like Attila the Hun to wreck it with their savage love.

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166-Year-Old Oak Cliff Cabin, One of Dallas' Oldest Buildings, At Risk of Being Lost

Categories: Preservation

Old Oak Cliff Conservation League
The Sharrock Cabin, built in 1846, is the oldest structure in North Texas still on its original site.
Last night at the Turner House, the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League unveiled its 2012 Architecture at Risk List, its annual enumeration of properties in danger of being demolished, neglected, and otherwise relegated to the dust bin of history. They offered a sneak peek of the first item on their list, the Humble Oil service station at Zang and Beckley because OOCCL wasn't sure it'd last until yesterday. It did, but it won't it won't for much longer.

Rounding out the list, which you can see in full here, are the Mission Motel, which the owner wants to convert to apartments but for now sits empty; Cannon's Village, the gabled, house-like storefronts built in the 1920s at the corner of Davis and Edgefield that for years housed Cannon's five-and-dime and, oddly, a medical lab upstairs; the sign advertising the now-demolished Alamo Plaza hotel; Oak Cliff's Googie architecture (think the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign) in general; and a handful of houses and commercial buildings sprinkled throughout the area.

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Developer Still Plans to Raze 1929 Humble Service Station in Oak Cliff

The 1929 Humble Oil service station's days are numbered.
Neighbors have pretty much given up on saving the vaguely octagonal white-and-blue building at the corner of Zang and Beckley that housed a long-departed Humble service station.

Developers Jay Song and John Chong plan to demolish the 1929 structure to make way for a convenience store. It's going to happen. The Lake Cliff Historic District ends across the street so, as long as they stay within city code, they can do what they want with the property.

"Legally, there is nothing any of us can do to save the building," said Jennifer Thornton, president of the Lake Cliff Neighborhood Association. "That's life in a transitional neighborhood."

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The Dallas Arboretum No Longer Wants the City to Turn Winfrey Point into a Parking Lot


Update 12:45 p.m.: City spokesman Frank Librio sends word that, on second thought, there is plenty of parking available for the Chihuly exhibit at the Arboretum and no need to mow Winfrey Point.

Attendance numbers for the current exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum appear to be within the facility's ability to manage parking flow with existing on-site parking and existing overflow parking options. However, parking challenges at the Arboretum and at White Rock Lake still exist and long term solutions will be addressed as both locations increase in popularity. For the time being, the temporary parking option at Winfrey Point will not be exercised. The City will continue to seek long term solutions that will balance increasing trail use, special events, and all recreational uses with adequate traffic management and parking options.

Original post: Score one for the little people. The Dallas Arboretum sends word this morning that Winfrey Point, the postage stamp of virgin grassland (or invasive weeds, if you prefer) that's been at the center of a recent legal and botanical imbroglio, won't be mowed for parking after all.

The move comes after a grassroots protest campaign from left-wing pinko environmentalists who take the completely outrageous view that, hey, there's a shit-ton of concrete in Dallas. Why not park there?

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The Dallas Arboretum's Winfrey Point-Attacking Botanist Had a Rough Weekend

Not-at-all-Dr. Robert O'Kennon.
Late on Friday, we passed along a letter from the Dallas Arboretum celebrating an agreement with White Rock Lake neighbors that allows the city to turn the grasslands of Winfrey Point into a temporary parking lot.

It was a strange missive to begin with -- a botanical garden celebrating its ability to mow through plants for parking? -- but one part stood out so much it required bolding. It came in response to neighbors' claim that Winfrey Point was "an endangered ecosystem in that it contains pristine, native grasses."

And it came from a botanist with one of those impressive PhDs in his title.

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

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.

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And Off the Mowers Go to Winfrey Point

Categories: Preservation

Jay Barker
Protesters gathered at the point this morning.
While Jim's wife hosed out the dog house over his Arboretum screed this morning, lawyers for the Arboretum and the city were in court trying to get a judge to let them turn Winfrey Point into a temporary parking lot, to prepare for the crush of visitors for this weekend's Chihuly exhibit.

Now comes word that a truce has been called -- for the moment. I just got an email from the court saying that the two parties are preparing to put an agreement into the court record. The News is reporting that that agreement allows the city to mow the grasslands to make room for the parking the Arboretum needs. Whether a permanent parking structure will eventually go up will be the subject of future court hearings.

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The Battle of Winfrey Point is an Opportunity for the Dallas Arboretum to Prove it Likes Plants

Hey, Dallas Arboretum: Do you really not see how this is shaping up? You have one of two things staring you in the face. A great opportunity. Or a well-deserved black eye.

You are in court this very moment, hauled there by citizens trying to stop your plans to decimate a rare patch of virgin blackland prairie at Winfrey Point near White Rock Lake by using it as an overflow parking lot for yet another of your big-big, fake-looking, Yellow Brick Road plant shows.

The crowds you draw are so huge you probably can't even see around them to the even bigger crowds of people who save a hundred bucks and stay away. I will get in major trouble at my house for saying this -- I live with one of your greatest fans -- but I try to be in the stay-away crowd whenever I can get away with it. Because the Dallas Arboretum, for me, has nothing to do with plants, flowers or gardens.

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Council to Get Sneak Peek at Muni Building Redo, Update on UNT's Downtown Law School

Looking east down the fourth-floor hallway of the Municipal Building Annex, which is currently in Phase 1 over its makeover
Mighty kind of Dallas City Hall to offer all these briefings wrapping up a few loose ends before I get up outta here. First Sylvan Thirty, then the old Dallas High School, then the Cotton Bowl, and now Old Dallas City Hall, which one day should become the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law. If, that is, the state Legislature approves funding the law school by June of next year.

Should that happen, says a briefing prepared for tomorrow's meeting of the city council's Ad Hoc Legislative Committee, then construction will begin 2014ish with a tentative opening date of fall 2015. Fingers crossed; toes too.

Ostensibly, the reason for the briefing has to do with construction at 106 S. Harwood (the Old City Hall, built in 1914) and the circa-'56 Municipal Building Annex on Main, once Dallas PD's HQ. The latter's in the middle of Phase 1 of its $9.3-million redo -- meaning, its third and fourth floors are being made new-n-improved. The photos contained therein shows off some of that work; nice bathrooms (including the unisexy offering on the fourth floor, how Starck Club).

So what happens after that? Well, says the briefing, some time in August the city hopes to start looking for someone to give the Old City Hall's exterior a proper clean-up; that, says the city, ought to be done by December 2013.

But the interior rehab will be a difficult chore for myriad reasons, among them ...More »

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