This story has been updated with comments from Assistant Park Director Oscar Carmona.
The Filter Building is a 1920s-era structure that used to be part of the filtration system at White Rock Lake, but modern-day events held there might offer a financial relief for Dallas park users.
Over the years, the building fell into disrepair until the nonprofit White Rock Rowing came along. After raising nearly $3 million, the organization signed a contract with the city to convert the storage area into a boathouse and to fix the Filter Building into an event space. The rowing club agreed to manage the building and hire staff, while keeping 90 percent of the profits. The club gave 10 percent of the profits to the city to fund White Rock Lake park improvements.
The Filter Building costs about $4,400 to rent the space on Saturdays during peak wedding season. The restored brick building overlooking White Rock Lake has surely been a great addition to the area and a boon for the rowing club.
According to the Filter Building’s website, “Proceeds from Filter Building event rentals help fund community outreach including adaptive rowing programs and financial assistance for juniors who find the program costs prohibitive.”
But what about the other 10 percent of the money? The contract, which was recently renewed with the city, states that “all funds received by City in accordance with this Article V must be deposited in the White Rock Lake Beautification Trust Fund for future improvements to the Premises and White Rock Lake.”
A portion of the profits are meant to be invested in the park, but Assistant Park Director Oscar Carmona says that the Park Department was unsure about how the funds should be used until recently. He says the money from the Filter Building is in a multi-year recreation program fund for future improvements in and around White Rock Lake park. This means the money carries over from year to year and doesn’t have to be spent each fiscal year.
Carmona says that with staff turnover and transitions, there was a lack of clarity about how those funds could be used. The money has not been touched since the rowing club began paying into it. He says that White Rock Rowing has deposited $200,000 in the account and that the department is in the process of creating a 10-year spending plan for the funds.
The money can be used for anything from replacing and repairing amenities and facilities to a more focused project.
Carmona says the park department hopes to get rid of portable toilets that dot the lake and make repairs or replace the permanent restrooms, many of which are locked up and not usable, such as the facilities at T&P Hill. “We want to utilize the funds to benefit the majority of the users of the lake,” he says.
There is also a sustainable restroom prototype that the park department is exploring, though funding it would probably not be connected to money from the Filter Building. In an email, Carmona wrote, “The restroom prototype is something we have been asked to explore by both citizens and the Park Board. I do not think we would utilize these funds for a new restroom, but it is something we are exploring in general for the park system.”
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