If not Winfrey Point, what about Garland Road as a parking lot?

I was about two-thirds into the DMN’s story about the Arboretum’s parking issues, which ran on Sunday’s front page, before fully understanding just how much land along Garland Road the Dallas Arboretum is purchasing, or hoping to purchase, to convert to parking lots.

The former Deaton’s Salon and Gifts. Arbor Trails, the gift shop next door selling home and garden decor. Nearby, a former auto repair shop and cheerleader supply store (Bob Handy’s and Cheers Etc., perhaps?). And the arboretum also is eying Walton’s Garden Center as well as a tree shop and an auto repair shop (which we’re assuming are Personal Touch Tree Service, and Ross and Greenville Automotive) on land controlled by the family of Jack Keller.

“Taken together, the properties known to be in play include nearly everything along Garland Road from Lakeland Drive to Tavaros Avenue,” the DMN story states.

The possibility of parking at Winfrey Point — either on the grass, or paving the land — wasn’t addressed in this article. (The Dallas Arboretum is saying on its website that the possibility of a parking lot at Winfrey Point is a “misconception.”) Arboretum president Mary Brinegar is quoted in the DMN story as saying of the Winfrey temporary parking plan, “We don’t want to be trouble for anyone. This seemed like a good answer at the time.” But Brinegar stresses that though “we can muddle through, if you will … we need serious help for our parking needs.”

The Dallas Morning News editorial board backed her in a recent editorial, saying initially, “Now that everyone agrees that grasslands by White Rock Lake are not being paved over to accommodate surging crowds — yes, what apparently was never officially on the table is officially off for now — let’s try to put the matter in some perspective.”

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And then a few paragraphs later, “There are more than 300 acres of grassland around the lake, and it is unreasonable to expect every blade to be protected in perpetuity given the urban nature of this public park. The arboretum’s needs are significant, and addressing them is a priority — it is, after all, one of the city’s jewels.”

(Jim Schutze, who focused his Observer column last week on the showdown at Winfrey Point, used some choice language when he took umbrage at the DMN for this editorial.)

The DMN story also noted plans the future parking garage across the street from the children’s garden, which could hold between 700-850 spots. It would cost between $15 and $20 million, and the city hopes to pay for it with “bonds repaid by revenue the arboretum collects for charging people to park.”

So a parking garage, and parking lots along Garland Road from Lakeland to Tavaros … how much parking does the Arboretum need? Though the arboretum’s “misconceptions vs. facts” statement calls the lack of parking “the real issue,” it doesn’t supply numbers in terms of exactly how much. The DMN article states that right now, the Arboretum has only 675 spaces but needs 2,000 on busy weekends, and the editorial states that projected attendance for 2012 is 1 million, a number that increases to 1.8 million by 2016.

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The Garland Road Vision Advisory Committee wanted to get rid of ” ‘fatigued’ buildings, unprofessional signage and graffiti” and wanted “uniformity in the buildings and businesses.” Perhaps a long stretch of parking lot is one way to accomplish that.

And perhaps neighborhoods around the arboretum would be more amenable to parking lots on Garland Road rather than in White Rock Lake Park?

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  • Marie

    Surface lots = pavement= heat. When will Dallas learn that the only way to get this city to cool down is to go underground or into parking garages?  We need less pavement, not more. Shame on you, arboretum, for not thinking critically about what you are doing. It is possible to do something practical without a lot of added expense. Dallas is now waking up to the fact that there has been no real city planning, and the residents are demanding change.

  • Michael Mosteller

    I would counter your argument by saying I believe White Rock Lake is an even bigger jewel that all Dallas citizens should have an opportunity to enjoy and unlike the Arboretum, it’s free. We own it. It shouldn’t be the Arboretum’s to do with as they please. 

    The Arboretum should work out their own parking issues and not rely on the Park Department to remove parts of a public park to alleviate the Arboretum’s parking woes. They have had since 2010 when the Children’s Exhibit was announced to get their parking issues taken care of. They could have taken their own land and done underground or above ground parking with it but why would they want to decrease the size of their land? 

    According to her own emails, Brinegar had the idea that the Arboretum could just expand out and annex part of the publicly owned Winfrey Point. Citizens would then have to pay to have the privilege to park on land they used to own. The Arboretum needs to find some suitable offsite parking to accommodate the big crowds and not try to grab land owned by the City and people of Dallas. If that means they have to pay a premium then so be it. They made this problem and started forth with a giant expansion before thinking through and working on just how they were going to find places for all these new visitors. This is coming from an Arboretum member since 2004 who is greatly looking forward to taking my kids to the new Children’s exhibit next spring. 

    The Arboretum seems to be really good at coming up with a grand vision. What they seem to lack is the ability to create solutions to the problems they face when trying to enact these grand visions. That is my issue with Mary Brinegar. Perhaps the Arboretum should find a suitable replacement for her who knows how to get the parking situation solved in a way all sides can agree on. 

  • I am curious at what point does a corporate sponsorship becomes incomfortable? The Advocate graciously sponsors the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden at the “Contributor” level for the beautiful Chihuly Exhibit. Corporate sponsorships are vital to having a vibrant arts scene and I think The Advocate deserves praise for its generousity. On the other hand, with all of the documents that have come to light about the intended privatization of White Rock Lake Park’s Winfrey Point and the associated uproar, is it uncomfortable to maintain such associations? I do appreciate your objectivity. There is another paper in town that should take a lesson!

  • Letthemwin

    I just moved back to my beloved East Dallas where I was raised. I have a lot to be thankful for and feel blessed to live in this area once again. In the last 24 to 48 hours I have seen bulldozed buildings on East Grand and seen the potential for the same along Garland Road. Many of my favorite places to shop have disappeared. What do developers need to take next before people put their foot down and say STOP. If the Arboretum can shuttle people up and down Garland Road they can surely shuttle them to and from the mostly unoccupied retail strip at  Lakeland and Ferguson and how about all the spaces not used at Ferguson and Oates or Eastfield College. This serves three purposes, less traffic along the already congested Garland Road area near the lake, no unsightly parking garage anywhere near the lake and our local officials and various media can focus on more important things.

  • Mark

    Why didn’t the Arboretum build a parking structure on a small part of the land where the new seven acre children’s garden is being constructed?

  • Tedbarker

    Wilson and ProjectGirl:  good posts, read new details above

  • Tedbarker

    Keri, “I’m baacckk” says TerribleTed Barker:   Blueprint for Arboretum notes from Mary Bringegar to Paul Dyer, Aug 08 2010.   A tale of an agenda previously denied in your column above.

    From newly obtained Open Records on City of Dallas, courtesy of pavethelake.wordpress.com

  • Herdmentality

    A “bully?”  Come on, ProjectGirl.  You know how whiney that sounds?  What have they done so far besides seek low tech and low cost solutions to their parking problem?  Strong arm politicians?  Bribe Park Dept. folks with envelopes of money?  Move in bulldozers under cover of darkness?  Not to my knowledge.  You know, it’s always easier to criticize than it is to work through the problem.  I suppose we wouldn’t be suffering all these anxieties if the DeGolyer Estate years ago had simply sold the property to real estate developers who could have built cheap apartments with HUD grant money.  Then, instead of worrying about a small patch of invasive grasses at Winfrey Point that people cared little about before, we could be complaining about things like apartment management’s criminal background checking procedures.  I grew up blocks from the Lake and still live nearby.  I’ve actually never been to the Arboretum, but hope to one of these days.  (If I can find a place to park.)  Regardless, I know the Arboretum is a jewel that all Dallas citizens should have an opportunity to enjoy.  Let’s support the Arboretum and help them come up with parking solutions that reasonably balance all parties concerns.  Either that or have them just close the gates when the existing parking is full and turn everybody else away.  THAT would be a wonderful marketing tool.  

  • ProjectGirl

    I understand that the Arboretum needs more parking – fine.  What I can’t fathom is how an attraction that is nature-based sees surface lots as a solution.  Vast expanses of … asphalt.  Not only will that be realy unattactive on a heavily travelled road, environmentally it’s terrible.  Why don’t they build a parking gargage out of the way somewhere and have regular running shuttles?  I’ve always loved the Arboretum, but I’m starting to lose some of my love.  It’s starting to feel like the neighborhood bully.

  • Wilson!

    This is the troubling quote:

    “There are more than 300 acres of grassland around the lake, and it is unreasonable to expect every blade to be protected in perpetuity given the urban nature of this public park. The arboretum’s needs are significant, and addressing them is a priority — it is, after all, one of the city’s jewels.” 

    The Arboretum doesn’t seem to understand, those acres of grassland are part of a park, owned by the people of Dallas.  Whether it’s a good idea to convert them to parking is one issue.  The other one is, if you do decide to convert them to parking for the Arboretum, the why does the Arboretum not expect to have to pay a fair price for the land?  

  • Clay

    I also don’t think the parking at winfrey point was that bad, the plans looked solid and the parking was out of the way and wouldn’t effect the lake at all. Either way eventually the city will get both.

  • Clay

    parking garages? well.. okay, but put in some new store fronts, street parking, and walkable sidewalks, and maybe a bike lane to help shape the future of garland road.

  • Lee Gibson

    Brinegar and the DMN editorial board all go to the same dinner parties. These people care nothing for neighorhoods or for the lake.

  • Michael Mosteller

    My question to the Arboretum is why didn’t you address your parking issues before starting construction on the Children’s addition? That would be like JerryWorld opening and the Cowboys providing no parking for the fans who attend the games. Was it because they thought the Far West lot would always be available? Was it because they thought a permanent solution at Winfrey Point was in the works if the plans in the proposed study were agreed to? Why build a parking lot for your employees and not use that same large lot for a permanent parking structure for visitors? 

    The Arboretum needs to stop digging themselves further into a hole with missives like the “misconceptions vs. facts” pieces they are putting out. You made a mistake. You didn’t properly manage the needs for your guests. Live with your mistake and learn from it. Don’t ask people who enjoy the Lake to say nothing when you threaten to take something that doesn’t belong to you. Oh it’s just temporary until Chihuly is over, no not so much when you ask for it again next May when you open the Children’s addition. 

    And I’m sorry Dallas Morning News but White Rock Lake should never be parceled off for the Arboretum to do with as it pleases. It’s not their park. It’s owned by the people of the city of Dallas. In this artificial city with little natural beauty, please stop trying to destroy nature to suit the needs of cars. The Lake is meant to be a place for recreation and not a means to allow an entity who makes money off parking to place their attendees because they lacked the foresight to properly manage their popularity. My kids and I rather enjoy that grassland full of invasive weeds. It’s a whole lot better than looking at a parking lot full of cars. 

    Buy up what you can to accommodate visitors but keep your  perfectly manicured hands off our park. 

  • Bruce

    Why doesn’t The Arboreteum relocate to South Dallas.  Given the DMN’s newfound interest in that area, you would think a new arboretum would be endorsed byt eh paper?

  • Krull

    so, first they build a huge playground instead of expanding the trees or or flowers at an “arboretum and botanical garden” Now they want to build massive surface lots?  great