Park board members Jesse Moreno and Paul Sims are searching for compromise after a war of words exploded between city and school district officials about the Randall Park parking lot expansion.
Moreno, a 2004 Woodrow graduate, is a champion for Dallas ISD, but says he can’t in good conscience vote for the proposed parking expansion. Moreno helped open 90 parking spots in the city park for the school in 2015 but won’t add more pavement now.
“I take great offense when someone describes our park space as dirt and weeds,” he says. “Twenty-two spots aren’t going to fix the problem.”
Moreno worked with Dallas ISD Trustee Dustin Marshall and Woodrow’s site-based decision making committee to find a solution for Woodrow’s parking needs, although he says the final decision blindsided him. He thought that the temporary parking lot would be restored to grass and trees after the construction, but that’s not part of the plan.
Neighbors who live near the park voiced their annoyance with added pavement, and Moreno voted against the proposal. He says that the park space is too valuable to lose.
“That is DISD’s job to figure out. We shouldn’t have to be scratching our heads.”
Sims spoke with Junius Heights neighbors who voiced their displeasure. He says that adding parking near the school doesn’t follow the master plan, which calls for more parking on the southern side of the park.
Moreno and Sims are working toward a solution to the overcrowded lot on Saturdays as well. The Park and Recreation Department hopes to reduce parking congestion by spreading out the YMCA soccer game times on Saturdays and reducing the number of people there at one time. “I realized that we had a logistics issue, not a parking issue,” Moreno says.
To handle the teacher’s parking during construction, Moreno suggested shuttles between the school and Samuell-Grand Park, less than a mile away. District representatives shot down the idea. “They have shown no signs of compromise,” he says.
The Woodrow community also rejected designating spots in the existing lot for teachers. Sims noted that it would take six months for the parking lot to be completed, and that the teachers would only be able to use the spots for one school year after that.
“It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” he says.
The park board initially voted to approve the parking lot expansion, but in a later meeting voted to reconsider the issue on Dec. 7. Moreno says that the board’s vote to reconsider is being accused of violating the Open Meetings Act, but the city attorney confirmed its legality. Both sides will be able to make their case at the next meeting.
“I have a love for Woodrow and want them to be able to figure out their parking needs, but at the end of the day, I don’t feel that the Park Department is going to need more parking,” Moreno says. “We are showing a willingness to listen and try to come up a compromise, but I don’t see DISD coming up with another solution.”
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