Next month, residents of District 9 will be voting for a new city council member to replace Mary Poss. We asked the candidates how they would improve our neighborhood’s prized natural resource, specifically:
White Rock Lake and Park are considered by many to be our neighborhood’s crown jewel, particularly since the recent dredging project. Currently, the City and several lake groups are working on plans to further improve the lake and park, which will likely add to White Rock’s popularity, drawing in more users from outside our area. Some residents in this district, however, are concerned about the impact of increased usage on White Rock’s natural resources and how it will affect the quality of life in our neighborhood. How much additional development (if any), and what type of development (if any), do you favor at White Rock Lake, and how should this development be decided, managed and/or paid for?
Here are the candidates’ answers:
The popularity of the lake is unquestionable. In fact that is what brought many of us to the area. I look at other cities across the United States that have bodies of water inside the city and I see thriving businesses and family life and people of all ages enjoying the atmosphere of the water. As a city council representative for District 9, before making any decisions, I will work directly with the homeowners association and put together a comprehensive development plan. I will also make sure that our appointment to the Parks board is listening and monitoring lake activity. There will be direct dialogue between the homeowners, the Parks Board and Dallas City Council. We can focus on building continued infrastructure around the lake, such as more lighting, paved walks and running tracks. We also need to consider encouraging more art and music festivals in the park. Possibly allowing weekend food vendors and positive entertainment for the entire family around the lake, much like Chicago. Bringing such positive businesses to the lake makes it a safer place for all of us as well.
But most important is listening carefully to the people who live right at the lake, making sure that their lives and homes are not adversely affected by such development or increase in visitors. I want citizens living outside District 9 to consider coming to District 9 a special event, where they come on the weekend, relax, enjoy the arts, music and the beauty of the lake.
As your Park Board representative for the past three years, I have championed the belief that we all are stewards of White Rock Lake and responsible for protecting its beauty and serenity. I believe our job is to protect what we have in place, and maintain and manage it well, rather than expand its usage or develop new projects with high-intensity uses.
As your city councilman, I will work to enhance our city’s other regional parks so they will attract current users of White Rock Lake Park. Our park simply has its physical limits and must not be pushed beyond them.
Every proposed park improvement should continue to be reviewed by a Task Force of dedicated lake volunteers. It is important we closely monitor and enforce our park guidelines.
How do we pay for good parks?
I am pleased to report that over the past three years more than $275,000 has been raised by neighborhood volunteers for our parks and open spaces in East Dallas. “Neighborhood Partnerships,” like those we have in East Dallas, can mean millions of new dollars to our city parks. Relying exclusively on city bond funds and annual operating funds for parks will not give us the money we need. I have called for the creation of a new Dallas Parks Foundation that would solicit donations from corporations, individuals, foundations and government agencies to help us create the quality parks and recreation centers we want and should expect.
A good park system is essential to the livability of a city. Parks and open space provide relief from the chaos and density of a city. The city must be sensitive to that need and plan for it.
Parks and natural space are very fragile. Over development and overuse destroy their ability to provide the peace and refreshment that citizens crave. The long-term solution is to encourage development of parks and open space throughout Dallas to relieve the pressure on White Rock.
Although designated as a regional park, White Rock Lake Park is situated within neighborhoods. Uses and additional development must be sensitive to those neighbors, many of whom donate their time, talents and financial resources to better the park for all to use. These gifts are vital to sustaining the park and the City must recognize and encourage this with constant communication with the park’s immediate neighbors and volunteers.
I support enhancements which promote “gentle” use of the park (jogging, picnicking, strolling, children’s playgrounds, fishing, etc.), without drastically increasing the load on the park. Certain projects in the bond program provide this, like sensible erosion control and path widening.
I oppose commercial uses in the park.
Ongoing maintenance must be provided in the general operating budget. Protecting assets is just good business. A beautifully maintained park is one signal that says the City cares about its assets. That message resonates to good businesses and homeowners. It can be seen in the many “healthy” neighborhoods surrounding White Rock.
For more than 60 years I have been a citizen of Dallas. My family has been in the Dallas area for almost 100 years. During that time we have seen parts of this city, turn from green to asphalt and concrete. Progress, of course, dictated some of these changes, but in many instances the shortsightedness of our city planners has allowed this assault to occur.
White Rock Lake and its environs is our most notable example of what can happen through neglect and the cost, at least in part, of rectifying that neglect. The preservation of White Rock Lake must be a vital part of any City Council’s agenda and certainly on the top of any list for the District 9 councilman. Obviously, this has not always been the case, but you can rest assured when Albert Turner is elected this civic jewel will have the highest of priorities.
I can see the White Rock Lake area of the future much like the White Rock I remember in times past when families from throughout the area felt safe and happy to include this beautiful city lake in their weekend plans. White Rock Lake is magnificent to the eye, but even more magnificent when utilized to its fullest.
I would support a well-conceived effort, with input from all interested parties, to make White Rock Lake the place to be once again. It can happen with proper leadership. I, humbly, am asking for the chance to be that leader.
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