White Rock Lake has been a part of the Lakewood community for generations.

It’s an oasis amid traffic lights and blaring horns. A place to relax and

enjoy nature’s beauty within walking distance from most Lakewood homes.

White Rock Lake is not just a destination, but it is an asset to the

community and the city of Dallas.  Individuals in the Lakewood community

help to preserve the beauty of  White Rock Lake in a variety of ways.  Some

make financial donations, others volunteer their time, and still others

contribute their ideas in memory of loved ones or for love of nature.

 

Five years ago, Hampton Hodges and his wife moved to Dallas.  They had spent

almost every weekend prior to the move looking for the perfect neighborhood,

a neighborhood that was surrounded by beauty, away from the cookie-cutter

homes of suburbs and the cement of shopping center parking lots. Mrs. Hodges

would spend most of those weekends at White Rock Lake with two of her

daughters.  Both lived in Dallas, and the time they spent with their mother

was precious. Mrs. Hodges grew to love White Rock Lake, its beauty, and the

wildlife that inhabits the area.  And after months of searching, they found

that perfect home in Lakewood, within walking distance of White Rock Lake.

The home was special to the Hodges;  Mrs. Hodges had recently been diagnosed

with ovarian cancer, and she and her family knew the time they spent

together and where they spent it would be treasured.

 

>From the couple’s home on Tokalon, they could walk to the lake and enjoy an

afternoon together.  But there was one thing Mrs. Hodges didn’t like; she

did not like that the children in the neighborhood had to walk from Tokalon,

across Williamson Road, across a gully and then over railroad tracks just to

get to White Rock Lake.  She had always wished there could be a safer and

more convenient pathway to the lake for the neighborhood children.

 

A few years after the couple moved into their Lakewood home, Mrs. Hodges

succumbed to ovarian cancer.  In memory of his wife’s love of the

neighborhood and White Rock Lake, Mr. Hodges decided to look in to building

that pathway.

 

“She loved the lake and watching the birds.  It was very therapeutic for

her.  I thought this would be a great way to contribute,” he said.

 

Mr. Hodges first approached DART and the City of Dallas with the idea of

making a paved pathway from Tokalon to White Rock Lake.  He volunteered to

hire the contractor, get the work completed, and then donate the pathway

back to the city.  The city approved his proposal, but the development would

be postponed because of the planned lake dredging.  As he waited and

continued to research the possibilities, Mr. Hodges eventually met Gary

Griffith, a board member of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department.  Mr.

Griffith, who had worked with the White Rock Lake Foundation and For The

Love Of The Lake Group on other projects, was intrigued by the pathway

concept. He had heard of similar ideas.  Mr. Griffith introduced Mr. Hodges

to other interested residents, and since that point, plans are now being

considered to create a pedestrian gateway to White Rock Lake.

 

“We decided it was truly the south end entrance of the lake,”  Mr. Hodges

said.  “We wanted to contribute something to our wives, but at the same time

make a good entrance for the neighborhood. When you get people pushing

ideas, there’s no telling what can get done.  I was just going to be a small

part of it, but the project has just grown,” he said.

 

The pedestrian gateway is going to become a reality because of the ideas of

individuals and the support of the City of Dallas, the Parks and Recreation

Department and the organizations that donate their time to improve and

maintain White Rock Lake.

 

“The proposed Master Plan update, which will include the new pedestrian

gateway, will be reviewed by a neighborhood advisory committee appointed by

the Park Board,” Mr. Griffith said.

 

The White Rock Lake Foundation and For The Love Of The Lake are two

organizations in the area that volunteer their time to support  the

improvement and to maintain the beauty of the lake.  Each organizes events,

whether to raise funds to support the White Rock Lake Master Plan or to

gather volunteers on a Saturday morning to clean the lake’s shores.  Because

of their presence, others know where to turn when they want to support the

lake.

 

It was the first call Richard Potter made.  On an afternoon ride along

Garland Road, Mr. Potter pulled into the now-closed original entrance of

White Rock Lake; he noticed two lanterns on the stone entrance.  After a

quick look, he immediately recognized the handiwork – the twists, the

pointed spires, the hammered iron texture, all were the handcrafted details

of his grandfather’s metalwork.  Mr. Potter called For The Love Of The Lake

and asked if they could run a proposal by the Parks and Recreation

Department.  He wanted to volunteer his time to refurbish the two lanterns

his grandfather created for the entrance in the 1930s.

 

“I think it’s cool to refurbish my grandfather’s lanterns,” Mr. Potter said.

“Metalwork is a lost art of work.”

 

After speaking with the Parks and Recreation Department, Mr. Potter found

out that the entrance initially had four lanterns.  He began work on the

surviving two lanterns in August, refinishing the exteriors, replacing the

glass, and paying attention to every minute detail his grandfather crafted.

Once the original lanterns are completed, he will make two identical ones to

match those of his grandfather.  Every aspect of the work will be completed

by hand.  All four lanterns will be mounted at the entrance of White Rock

Lake off of Garland Road, a perfect complement to the stone entryway and

wood and stone bridge now being restored to its 1930s appearance.

 

Many of these restorations taking place are part of plan put together by

nonprofit and city organizations in the area.  The White Rock Lake

Foundation along with the City of Dallas, the Parks and Recreation

Department, For The Love Of The Lake and other organizations, set the

guidelines for restoring and maintaining the lake’s natural beauty with the

completion and approval of the White Rock Lake and Park Master Plan.  With

everyone on the same page, the Master Plan and Design Guidelines outlines

the restoration, preservation, and development efforts at the lake and the

park.

 

“The Master plan is what we hope to have done and by when,” said Susan

Falvo, president of The White Rock Lake Foundation board of directors.  “All

input for the Master Plan update was comprised from several groups in the

area.  The problem was, nobody seemed to know about it.”

 

With almost 3,000 homes, Lakewood is the largest neighborhood association in

the city of Dallas, but it also has a turnover of 300 homeowners a year.

Ms. Falvo has been visiting neighborhood associations throughout the area to

raise awareness for the Master Plan and what others can do to contribute.

 

“We’re just people.  Our group of 15 individuals has committed to raise

$150,000 over the next five years.  We could possibly raise $500,000 over

the next five years if other groups commit, as well,” she said.

 

Ms. Falvo and others work with the city on an ongoing basis, campaigning for

bond issues to help beautify the lake and to organize events to raise

awareness of what an asset White Rock Lake is to the community.

 

“The community support for the lake and lake projects is invaluable to the

city and the council representatives,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mary Poss.

 

In the past, community support has been instrumental in passing bonds to

financially improve the state of White Rock Lake.  Community support pushed

through the 1995 dredging of the lake.  In 1998 community support made it

possible to build hike-and-bike trails, as well as make renovations to

Winfrey Point and the Dreyfuss Club.

 

“There are people all over East Dallas and in the region incredibly

supportive of improving our lake,” Ms. Poss said.  “White Rock Lake is

absolutely one of the treasures of our entire region.  It is once again a

great location for all types of recreational activities.  Dallas is

extremely fortunate to have such a tremendous jewel in the heart of the

city,” she said.

 

And that’s exactly how Larry and Donna Bogart feel about the lake.  At least

once a week, the couple makes a point to go to the lake. Whether it is for

walking or bicycling, or just to spend the afternoon having a picnic, the

couple has always enjoyed spending time at White Rock Lake.

 

“We’re sandwiched in here in the urban areas and it’s nice to have a place

like White Rock,” said Larry Bogart.  “It makes you feel like you are in the

country.”

 

So when the Bogarts were told they would have to cut down the Yaupon Holly

growing along side their home, their first thought was to donate the tree to

White Rock Lake rather than cutting it down.  They had planted the evergreen

in their yard in 1991.  At 10 years old, it had grown to 20 feet.  Although

they knew they wanted to donate the tree to the lake, they didn’t know whom

to call first.

 

On one of their afternoon walks at the lake, the Bogarts noticed an

adopt-a-shoreline sign for the organization Greenbee.  The Bogarts

immediately began corresponding with Greenbee to locate a home for their

tree.  But since the tree had become so large, the couple had the additional

task of finding someone who could actually transplant the tree.  Greenbee

not only helped the Bogarts find a home for the Yaupon Holly, but also

coordinated with the Parks and Recreation Department to find someone to

transplant the tree and advise the best time of year for a move.

 

The Yaupon Holly now stands at Winfrey Point on the west side of the lake.

 

“I was really surprised when they picked that spot,” Mr. Bogart said.  “It’s

a really prominent place.  It overlooks the city.  I was really happy to see

that tree go up there.”

 

The Bogarts’ contribution was one made from their hearts.  It was a single

gift that illustrates how one person or one idea can contribute to an

overall effort.  Whether it is a person who volunteers to refurbish a

lantern, a planter or even a water fountain; or a person with an idea to

build a pathway as a pedestrian gateway to the lake; each of these

individuals and ideas contributes to improving the lake we all appreciate

and enjoy so much.

 


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