Petitions at Dallas White Rock Lake

Many of us who run at White Rock Lake have been approached by protesters asking us to sign a petition to stop the Dallas Arboretum from “paving White Rock Lake”.

I was very proud of one of my running buddies when he told the petition peddler, very politely, that he would like to educate himself on the matter before signing anything.

I’m not saying don’t sign the thing. I am suggesting you know what you are signing. Here’s what we’ve reported at the East Dallas Advocate:

In case you need a quick recap of last week’s episodes, the Dallas Arboretum in preparation for the Dale Chihuly exhibit, which they expect and hope will open to much fanfare, received the city’s permission to use the grass at Winfrey Point as a temporary overflow parking lot, to be used when and if the first many-hundred spaces over two separate lots fill up.

Neighbors Ted and Hal Barker — who have been complaining for years about people, cars and city staffers disrespecting the prairie surrounding Winfrey Point to very limited avail — were incensed.

Sure he looks happy, but Ted Barker is pissed. Trust us. He is enjoying the newfound support.

In somewhat related events, the brothers became even more upset once they learned of a study conducted by the city examining the possibility of a permanent parking lot at Winfrey Point. They learned of said study via an open records request that revealed about 25 different scenarios for parking solutions at and near the lake, this being the most inflammatory of the bunch.

Hal explains in the below video interview.

Armed with this information, they have rallied droves of supporters and gathered some 4500 signatures (and counting as of Sunday afternoon).

The Arboretum folks spoke to the media Friday afternoon. They told us they hired an expert, Dr. Robert O’Kennon to study the grasses around Winfrey to determine if they are indeed part of an endangered ecosystem, native and pristine, as the Save Winfrey Pointers say they are and O’Kennon says, “Almost all of the grasses at Winfrey Point are non-native invasive species. I identified 15 species of non-native grasses, some of which are very aggressive.”

He’s saying that the grass needs to be mowed and prevented from spreading and destroying “other regions of White Rock Lake park with native flora.”

He adds that the term “Blackland Prairie”, which is what Save Winfrey Pointers say they are trying to protect, is just a hot-button, fancy term for a type of soil. “There are 12 million acres of Blackland Prairie in North Texas, he says.”

Destructive, outta control weeds or pristine prairie in need of protection.

Furthermore, Chairman of the board at the Arboretum Brian Shivers says, “Those unfamiliar with the situation are being misled by those with an agenda.”

Below, the gist of the press conference:

The Save Winfrey Point site has a point-by-point response to the Arboretum’s press conference and press release.

Over the weekend, I observed Saturday that despite the exhibit opening, a kids’ baseball game and a large running event at Winfrey Point, there was no carmageddon or chaos. Protesters marched peacefully on the Arboretum and some were at the point asking for signatures. The Dallas Running Club members managed to make use of the few hundred spaces behind the DRC clubhouse at Beachview, behind Doctors Hospital. The running club, which holds monthly events at Winfrey, has been forbidden to park on the grass there, under threat of ticketing and towing.

One runner noted that he doesn’t really know about all the nature and grass stuff but that it seems unfair.

“Like they won’t let us runners park there, but Arboretum guests have permission—basic unfairness.”


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