About PaveTheLake

June 9, 2012

PaveTheLake began as a parody blog to identify potential issues relating to commercial operations at Winfrey Point at White Rock Lake in East Dallas.

In late January 2012, after an announcer at the Texas Half Marathon called for a general boycott of businesses along Garland Road, Hal Barker began to look into Dallas Park and Recreation policies at Winfrey Point.

After meeting with Dallas Park Board member Gerry Worrall in early February, Barker learned of plans to add parking lots at Winfrey Point for use by the Dallas Arboretum.

In late April, Dallas Arboretum met with local community leaders and revealed plans for commercial parking at Winfrey Point.

On May 1, 2012, the City of Dallas produced records under the Texas Public Information Act that revealed extensive long-term plans to develop the Winfrey Point area.

New records requests filed in mid-May have been initially denied and the City of Dallas filed for a Texas Attorney General Opinion on the release.

As new documents become available, thosedocuments will be posted on PaveTheLake.

Email Hal Barker


1 Response to About PaveTheLake

  1. Ken Elliott says:

    A point-by-point response to the Arboretum press release follows–

    Arboretum Press Release Following Today’s Court Hearing:

    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.

    –Regardless of past mowing and parking activities at Winfrey, the fact remains that these areas have been allowed to grow in recent years and the residents and vistitors to Winfrey have discovered that they have a unique value and beauty that we wish to perserve.

    –We are not claiming that Winfrey Point is home to 100% pristine, native plant species. The message we are trying to convey is that we find the current state of Winfrey to be worth preserving and promoting, as it is aesthetically appealing in situ, and does contain a great many native species. Groups such as The Healthy Habitat Prairie Restoration Project at St. John’s Episcopal School are working in these areas to control the invasive species and promote the propogation of the native ones. It is a valuable learning experience and community service program for the children.

    “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.”

    –The ratio of native to invasive species is not the subject of debate in this issue. As previously noted, Winfrey supporters are well aware of the various plant species in place. What the Arboretum release doesn’t mention, however, is that the prairie areas at Winfrey are home to Redtail Fox, Bobcat, Rabbit, and many bird species that are uncommon in the rest of the Dallas area.

    –The claim that there are 12 million acres of blackland prairie currently is false. There were 12 million acres a century or more ago, but there are scarcely 3,000 acres in place today. Many of the species in the remaining areas are threatened or endangered.

    “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.”

    –Limited parking is the primary agenda and issue for the Arboretum. The only agenda Winfrey supporters have is the preservation and protection of Winfrey in its present state.

    –While parking at Winfrey can be challenging, it is hardly out-of-hand or a “safety issue.” Speed of vehicles in the area is extremely low due to terrain and road condition issues, and everyone is typically aware of the activities taking place and tends to excercise extreme caution.

    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 generally a positive statement. However, it seems unlikely that the City approached the Arboretum for parking assistance. There is high likelyhood that exactly the opposite took place and the Arboretum approached the City.

    –Mary Brinegar’s statement would hold more weight if the Arboretum had expressed a sincere interest in propogating native species at Winfrey prior to the recent objections over its use. However, as previously stated, local organizations have had to take measures on their own to study and promote positive growth in the prairie areas.

    “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 parking situation at Winfrey, while often congested, is generally far from “dangerous” or “illegal.” In fact, the question of legallity has only come up in the last year or so since the city revamped it parking ordinances.

    –Having talked to many residents along the lake, not one has expressed a concern over fire danger. While there may be some inherent risk of fire associated with tall grasses, the residents consider that risk to be a calculated one, and much prefer the appearence of the open tall grass spaces over any worry of fire danger.

    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.

    –It seems apparent that a good many of the citizens of Dallas as a whole would disagree with this statement. Also, the plans uncovered for ballpark elimination would seem to speak of quite opposite intentions regardless of the Arboretum’s assurances to the contrary.

    Robert (Bob) O’Kennon has been involved in botanical research and has worked for over thirty (30) years documenting plant life, grasslands and other flora throughout Texas, every state in the United States, as well as all over the world. He has created and maintained an extensive database on the plants and grasses of Texas. He has discovered or described more than thirty (30) new plant species. He founded the Texas Land Conservancy in 1982, and until recently served as its President. He has written or co-authored five books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles treatises on scientific botany, including: Flora of North Central Texas.

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