If the Park Department won’t address Winfrey Point issue, Schutze will

I wasn’t able to attend last night’s Dallas Park Department meeting. But I’m told by my colleagues who did attend that the Winfrey Point parking issue wasn’t on the agenda.

I’m not sure why or how that is, especially considering that the meeting was held at Winfrey Point. I can understand that the meeting has probably been planned for some time, and the main topics — improvements to the trail, the White Rock Dog Park, etc. — took precedence. But really? No talking about the elephant in the room?

Anyone disappointed in the lack of parking discussion last night will happily inhale Jim Schutze’s most recent Observer column on precisely this topic.

Schutze begins his reporting by talking to master naturalist Becky Rader, whom Rachel Stone quoted in her first report on the parking issue. Schutze’s takeaway from Rader:

“When the buffalo arrived here on their annual migrations it took the herd three days to pass through Dallas. That’s millions and millions of animals. … The patch of land at White Rock Lake that city officials want to turn into a parking lot is a tiny window on that enormous past.”

Schutze, who is married to Dallas Morning News garden editor Mariana Greene, shows respect for the appeal of the arboretum.

“In a city where we sometimes complain there’s little to do outdoors, the arboretum has become a rare treasure. It’s the place where tens of thousands of citizens go every year because they yearn to pause, hand in hand, to smell the flowers. Zillions of flowers.”

He also, however, criticizes the arboretum’s reaction to neighbors who took it to task.

“From the moment the arboretum first ran into resistance, its own internal culture was on high display. It dug in its spiked heels and lifted its bejeweled fists. The arboretum hired a naturalist with absurdly exaggerated credentials, and he cranked out a report for them saying that Winfrey Point was a piece-of-crap vacant lot choked with weeds.”

And then, Schutze points out the unforgivable sin.

“To the defenders of Winfrey Point, the most appalling thing about the response of the arboretum and park board was that it meant they knew nothing of the decades of research and activism that had gone into safeguarding Winfrey Point as a natural treasure.

“The Dallas Arboretum, this supposed temple of botanical wonders, did not know and did not care that entire teams of experts and dedicated citizens had fought for decades to preserve Winfrey Point.”

Schutze also interviews Matt White, the author of “Prairie Time: A Blackland Portrait,” who reaches a similar conclusion that I did last week — it’s not just about the prairie land.

“It’s parkland that is being taken away. … White Rock Lake is Dallas’ Central Park. … For the elected officials who are willing to give that away, I think it’s a violation of the public trust.”

These are only a few of the highlights. Take a few minutes to read the column in its entirety.


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