What happens if you build or plant on park land in Dallas? A cautionary tale

This pool is built partially on park land (Image courtesy of the City of Dallas).

On March 18, the Dallas Park Department sent letters to neighbors around town who had built or planted on park land adjacent to their homes, but the homeowners are cooperating with the city to remove their property from the parks, according to Shana Hamilton at the Park Department.

In letters obtained from the city, the city notes that neighbors in Lake Highlands, Lakewood and Pleasant Grove cleared land, built sheds and planted trees on property owned by the city. One home that backs up to Devon-Anderson Park in southeast Dallas even has a pool that crosses the park’s property line.

Hamilton says that everyone who received a letter responded and is willing to work with the Park Department to remedy the encroachments. “We appreciate the residents working with us,” Hamilton says. “It’s a matter of time for when those modifications can be made.”

The infringements into park land in Lakewood were by a resident who planted trees and stored a vehicle on land that was technically owned by the city adjacent to a prairie segment near Lakewood Park. The resident is cooperating to remove the property, according to Hamilton. The Advocate attempted to contact these neighbors, but never heard back.

Encroachment into park land was the topic of discussion last fall, when outrage bubbled up in Lakewood as word spread that the Dallas Park Department was going to cut down trees near Lakewood Park on Williamson near the lake. The trees were illegally planted by neighbors in the prairie and changed the viability of the ecosystem there.

A neighborhood meeting required Dallas’ Urban Biologist Brett Johnson to explain that the trees in line to be removed were illegally planted in a blackland prairie segment adjacent to the park. As Johnson explained the importance of prairies to the environment here in North Texas, a compromise was reached between those wanting to preserve the trees and the need to keep the prairie natural.

Hamilton says that no trees will be cut down, 11 larger trees will remain in the prairie and the remaining 17 trees will be replanted along the SoPac Trail, which runs behind the prairie. The trail is scheduled to be completed next year, and the trees will be relocated then.


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