So what do you think: Should restaurants or other food and drink establishments be allowed at and around White Rock Lake? According to a DMN blog post, that’s the kind of thing that is being “casually” discussed among some neighborhood politicos at City Hall.
Allowing a few food trucks to set up on city property surrounding the lake apparently is one option, while allowing a more permanent private setup — maybe at Winfrey Point or the Big Thicket — also is being entertained, all on the premise that food and beverage offerings adjacent to the lake would enhance the user experience along with adding funds to city coffers needed to help maintain city park land.
The whole “should there be development around the lake” is a question that five years ago nearly drew blood when two projects — a six-story “high-rise” built by C.C. Young Retirement Community on the north side of Mockingbird and what was originally a 24-story high-rise called Emerald Isle just off Garland Road at Barbec’s — were proposed.
Neither project was literally “on” the lake, but that didn’t stop lake loyalists from coming out of the woodwork, pitchforks in hand, to say that there would be a lot of cold, dead bodies in the way of any development that interfered with the pristine look of the lake. There were public meetings, and some of them were downright unfriendly, with anyone supporting development anywhere near the lake (even on Garland Road) being shouted down at neighborhood gatherings.
Since then, the Emerald Isle project — which probably was never a threat to be built, even when commercial real estate money was flowing freely — died a fairly quick death, mostly due to errors by the developer in working with the community. Meanwhile, the C.C. Young project opened last year, and after the developers worked with neighborhood groups on a compromise to height and setbacks, the project seems to be a decent addition to the lake skyline.
So where does that leave things with this “casual” discussion down at the City about restaurants at the lake?
As the DMN blog surmises, the issue would likely find lake users (bikers, runners and general pedestrians) who would favor a couple of food and watering holes pitted against neighborhood homeowners, who perhaps would be concerned about additional traffic, trash and general mayhem caused by increased lake use.
Back five years ago, I remember asking a former city council person whether the city would ever — like in my lifetime — allow a permanent restaurant at the lake. As a potential site, and to elicit a response, I pointed to the southwest corner of Mockingbird and Buckner — you know, that area of natural grasses scenically overlooking the lake with perfect traffic access?
The politico just laughed and told me that there had recently been a proposal to do just that, and it was dead on arrival at City Hall.
“No chance it would ever pass,” I was told. Well, maybe times are changing?
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