While it appears that the controversy concerning overflow parking for the Dallas Arboretum at Winfrey Point may be resolved for the time being, we received a letter from District 3 Park Board Member Michael Reagan and wanted to pass along his thoughts on the issue. It’s great to have neighbors like Michael who volunteer their time for positions like this who are also willing to keep us informed. Thanks, Michael!
A lot of people are very unhappy with what they believe is happening at Winfrey Point, and as a Park Board Member, representing District 3, I have information that I would like to share in an attempt to clarify information that has been either misreported, misrepresented or misunderstood. In addition, both the Arboretum and the City of Dallas have made press releases that are very informative.
The ever growing popularity of White Rock Lake and the Dallas Arboretum have caused parking issues in the area, largely on the East side of the lake. Visitors sometimes park in the neighborhoods around the lake, creating inconvenience for some of the neighboring residents. The Arboretum and the City of Dallas have explored many options for alleviating these parking issues, and many proposals have been made. The Arboretum itself has done, what I personally believe to be a very good job of arranging for off-site parking and using shuttles to address their parking issues directly.
What was presented to, and approved by, the Park and Recreation Board was a proposal to allow temporary, unimproved parking, up to 400 spaces, at Winfrey Point as needed due to demand resulting from the Chihuly exhibit and eventually the new children’s garden currently under construction. This move was intended to ameliorate the local resident issues and provide an orderly and strategic means of dealing with the parking issues in the area.
I have seen a number of very beautiful images taken from the building at Winfrey Point, looking toward the lake, exhibiting the lovely terrain and flora that exist there. Parking in this area has neither been proposed or approved. The approved temporary parking area is off of Emerald Isle, and will in no way impact the vista that has been so popularly represented on Social Media sites like Facebook. In addition, the parking areas will not be paved. This has neither been proposed or approved.
There has been a lot of talk about a parking garage. This was a concept provided by a consulting firm to the Arboretum, along with a number of other concepts. No proposal for a parking garage at Winfrey Point has been presented to, or approved in any way, by the Park & Recreation Board. There are currently 3 baseball diamonds and an existing parking lot on the site where the parking lot concept was drawn. The little leagues that play on those diamonds have multiple years left on their agreement, and the activity at those diamonds has been healthy and generally well-received. In addition, the city has invested significant money toward the construction and maintenance of those diamonds, and there is no movement to remove them for additional parking.
Lastly, a great deal has been said about the importance of the “blackland prairie” that allegedly exists at Winfrey Point. I have heard multiple conflicting reports about this, and am admittedly not an expert myself. What I can say with certainty is this: the area in question currently gets mowed twice a year as fire prevention control. Even if there had never been any approval to create temporary parking, this area would be mowed twice a year. The same area used to be mowed even more often (and I’ve been told that a number of neighborhood residents complained then that it wasn’t mowed frequently enough), and the Park & Recreation Department planted some grasses, plus Wildflowers in this area (and many others around the city) in order to reduce their mowing expenses as an overall cost-saving strategy. I have also been told informally that the area in question has been used for parking in the past, and anecdotally, my own Mother and Father told me over dinner last night that as teenagers and young adults, they used to park on Winfrey Point all the time. I made a conscious decision to not ask them why however.
Best regards to everyone who took the time to read this, and please feel free to ask me any questions you have, or express any ongoing concerns, if you are able to do so in a respectful way.
District 3 Park Board Member