For years, the City of Dallas and Dallas ISD have shared Randall Park without much conflict in a mutually beneficial relationship. Schools use the city park for sports practice, games and contribute to its maintenance costs. But East Dallas politicians are now waging a war of words about a proposed expansion of the park’s parking lot.
Dallas ISD trustee Dustin Marshall accused opponents of the new lot as “#fakenews,” while City Councilman Philip Kingston likened the school district to “Montgomery Burns,” the greedy villain from “The Simpsons.”
Randall Park is used by both the city and Dallas ISD, as the school district helped provide money for the park’s rehabilitation and pays for 50 percent of the maintenance costs. In meetings with Dallas ISD trustee Dustin Marshall, park board member Jesse Moreno and the Woodrow community, neighbors discussed plans to expand the lot at Randall Park to provide extra spots for the teachers at Woodrow.
Bond construction will soon begin on an addition to Woodrow where the portable buildings now reside, and many of the school’s portables were moved to the teacher parking lot, reducing the spaces available for teachers by 32, according to Dallas ISD trustee Dustin Marshall.
In his Facebook post, Marshall highlighted the need for extra teacher and community parking, and he said that there are often around 400 cars vying for the 100 spots on weekends when the park hosts the YMCA’s youth soccer games.
The plan to add 22 parking spots on the northeast corner of the park, across Glasgow from the school, was presented to the the community at an Oct. 16 meeting, and received little pushback, according to Woodrow parent Lauren Larson. On Nov. 2, the Park Board voted 8-5 to approve the plan with no speakers in opposition, but on Nov. 16 the board voted to revisit its decision. Moreno voted against the new parking lot both times even though he helped plan the development, according to Larson. The plan for the new lot will be reconsidered at the Dec. 7 Park Board meeting and then by the City Council on Dec. 13.
City Councilman Philip Kingston posted about the new lot, including a video where he drives around and does donuts in the empty parking lot at Randall, and points out areas where he says Dallas ISD could build more parking on campus at Woodrow Wilson and J.L. Long. “I can only assume that DISD intends to start teaching parking lot donuts to children because it has a plan to pave over Randall Park for temporary parking during a construction project at Woodrow Wilson High School. The plan only calls for cutting down a few trees,” he writes.
Melissa Kingston, Philip’s wife, has also posted about the issue. “After all of the work to defeat paving the Trinity, now DISD wants to pave Randall Park. DISD claims to have insufficient parking for the teachers, which is not true. They want parking that is closer in, and they want to pave over a city park instead of use their own land to do it.”
Marshall pointed out that the trees in the area would be saved or moved, and that city already has plans to pave over the park in another area to add parking. “Although nobody likes to pave over park land — the simple reality is that the demands on this park are so high, that the City has already recognized that they must add additional parking. THEY ALREADY HAVE PLANS TO PAVE OVER THE GRASS TO ADD PARKING,” he wrote. “This plan actually uses much more park land, and actually takes up green space that people use as opposed to the DISD plan which makes use of space adjacent to the busy corner which is not currently used.”
Marshall backed Kingston’s opponent Matt Wood in the last city council election, and Kingston backed Marshall’s opponent Lori Kirkpatrick in the last school board election. Both sides are urging neighbors to contact the Park Board and City Council to be heard.
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