Devil In The Details

White Rock fans and Highland Park rowers learn that at City Hall, life is but a scream.

The Carnival Cruise Ship boat club barge that a rowing club wanted to build on White Rock Lake seems to have shrunk back into a modest, nicely designed facility that shouldn't really bother anybody.

More amazing, the rowing club people themselves seem to have shed their long forked tails, horns, gnarly teeth and bloody claws, and now they all look like perfectly nice people who just want a place to row.

How in the hell does something like that happen? Was there an exorcism? Is it all an elaborate deception? Or, last and least likely, did I get it somewhat wrong in the first place?

Jared Boggess

Well. I did pretty much paint them as demons from hell. And I may have suggested indirectly that construction of the floating clubhouse they want to install at the top of the lake would bring about the collapse of Western civilization.

But if I was wrong, it was only in degree. And I probably did pick the wrong bad guys.

A larger threat still looms over the lake's 1,300 acres in the form of shabby stewardship by the city. Someone at City Hall harbors a notion that the lake should be turned into a revenue-producing amusement park. That's where this kerfuffle came from and also the even worse one before it, an attempt by the city's park department to give away a valuable green space at Winfrey Point on the lake to a private institution, the Dallas Arboretum, for use as a parking lot.

The park department just loves parking fees and dance-hall rents. Among schools of thought in public park philosophy, we might call the Dallas Park and Recreation Department's approach the "Carnie School."

Last week Dallas United Crew held a public informational meeting at an East Dallas church. Their plans became known to most of the key constituencies around the lake last June when activists stumbled across them in documents obtained through public records demands related to the Dallas Arboretum/Winfrey Point debacle.

At that time, the plans called for a substantial public space on a second story to be rented out for social events, which presumably would have paid a cut to the park department. I probably can't even convey what kind of alarm bells a suggestion like this sets off around White Rock.

I spoke last week with Michael Jung, a lawyer who has served on many Dallas boards and commissions and now is secretary of the White Rock Lake Task Force, an advisory body established by resolution of the Dallas Park Board. Jung recalled the last time, a decade or more ago, when someone else proposed a floating social facility on White Rock.

"There was an idea at one point to revive the so-called 'Bonnie Barge,'" Jung said, "and run a party barge out of the Teepee Hill area.

"That sort of died an unnatural death because the proponents of it were so politically inept. When they got to the part about how SMU fraternities would be one of their main marketing targets, but, no, they wanted to assure the public that there would not be any alcohol consumption whatsoever, that's when people sort of dismissed them as being from Mars."

And that's exactly what the White Rock Lake advocates saw coming at them when they learned that the park department had been negotiating with a rowing club from Highland Park about what sure sounded like another party barge scheme.

Let's just get all the biases and bigotry and preconception out on the table where we can sort through it all frankly. When this idea hit the fan, it was met with horror by most of the people I talked to in the traditional White Lake constituency, by whom I mean the save-the-lakers, the Love-of-the-Lake crowd, the people who brought about the lake's fourth and most recent dredging in 1996-'98.

The lake lovers had nightmare visions of spoiled brat Park Cities children barely able to see over the dashboards of the Hummers they were driving around the lake at night, drunk out of their minds playing whack-a-mole with the peasantry.

And in the other direction? I watched the very tautly controlled faces of the rowing club people at last week's meeting as my own people, the East Dallas A'Ginners, rose one after another to deliver rambling harangues unsubtly suggesting that the rowing club was against democracy, transparency and crippled children. I think I could read a little of what the rowing clubbers thought of us while they sat there clutching their pews with white knuckles to keep themselves from rising to the bait.

Crazy senile hippie paranoid delusional crackpot wingnuts. It was on the tips of their tongues. I know it was. And frankly, I'm not going to argue the point. In some corners of East Dallas, those are honorific terms. (None of them applies, by the way, to Michael Jung.)

The meeting, in spite of everything I have already said about it, was a huge success, because it forced all of us to sit in a church and look at each other. From the East Dallas point of view, not only did the board members of Dallas United Crew look a lot like us, but, golly, they actually are us, some of them. The club did start out as the Highland Park Rowing Club, but it has in fact greatly expanded its reach, hence the name change, and a good many of its members are East Dallas residents.

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Butterflyer 1 Like

Unfortunately the impression the rowers are making is not a good one.  Noise is pollution too and they were out there on both Wednesday and Thursday afternoon with their coaches booming through the bullhorns so they could be heard all over the lake.  I even heard the F word.  It is impossible to relax with all the shouting going on.  The rowers up by the dam  never created such a ruckus.    There is a story in this, I think.  Maybe if they understood the impression they are making - they will modify accordingly.  Likewise they made a very impression on one of their first events - cars parked everywhere and blocking access to the boat ramp. . . .

jones 1 Like

The entire lake including all parking lots were closed to the public for a running corporation race this past Sunday (8/12/12). Special event cops blocked all entrances to park and parking lots to restrict access to the general tax paying public who uses the park on their day off. For profit organizers paid very little to rent THE ENTIRE PARK and put a bunch of money in their pocket in the name of charity. Talk about miserable stewardship.

byter 1 Like

White Rock's days are numbered. 

unknown 1 Like

Jim, you are wrong about the parking. Several "for profit" running corporations that take up 150% (they park on the grass and in restricted areas) of the parking for their training programs (approximately $200.00 per head x 500 people = $100,000.00 in revenue) at the Bath House Cultural Center on Saturday and Sundays when it is needed the most by the general public on their day off, either pay no parking fees or steeply discounted parking fees for parking as compared to others who do the same for the use of the park. All because they have a "special" relationship with city hall. In fact, they are the #1 "for profit" commercial user of the lake and aren't a member of the White Rock Task Force. Why? Because they can't stage their events without public complaint about their violating city noise and parking ordinances, they would have to pay more fees and they don't want it brought up in a public forum. There is an open door policy with city hall officials to bypass the public forum and do as they please, all with the help of Dallas Police Department Special Events cops who partner with "for profits"and are paid to look the other way on violations. AUDIT the contracts of all users over the last 10 years and pay particular attention to Saturday - Sunday or Holiday Bath House contracts and see the discounted share the city receive of above $ calculation as compared to others. Different and cheaper than all others. In fact, there is a turf war between the "for profit" running corporations for Bath House parking. Show up at 6:00 a.m. this Saturday morning and you will see the circus. Be sure to say "hi" to the 1 (one) very well paid Dallas Police Department Special Events officer who is managing 500 people and 500 cars (incredibly dangerous intersection) and also the former Dallas Parks Patrol cop who partnered up with "for profit" to control Bath House parking and runs the circus. Other events that have this many people have to have cops at every intersection. These guys don't because they are connected and it would be more money out of their pocket.

unknown 1 Like

Know what you mean about miserable stewardship. Prior to the current Parks And Recreation regime, for many years, citizens complained to the Head of Dallas Parks and Recreation and even drew him maps to the public bathrooms at White Rock Lake near childrens playgrounds where the multitude of perverts, to include child molesters, would cram into the small bathrooms to openly violate Texas Sodomy Laws. For many years, nothing was ever done about it and nobody could figure out why. That is until the Head of Dallas Parks and Recreation was arrested by undercover police for openly violating Texas Sodomy Laws (on a Sunday afternoon after dropping off his wife and kids from church no less) in a public park restroom. Should have seen the police run the perverts off after it hit the paper. Heard he was represented by one of the many Lakewood attorneys who specialize in Texas Sodomy Law. And the miserable stewardship continues.

cjbwalton 1 Like

Hey Jim - Another great article, but I have a question. How do we keep this boat house from being racially/ethnically segregated? It could be like having Dallas Country Club located in White Rock Lake. Responses from the Dallas United Crew have indicated that even though the team represents 20+ schools, there are only two Hispanic and one Arabic members. A volunteer for the Hockaday Crew e-mailed me in response to my questions about diversity and said, "If there's not a lot of diversity in crew, it's not because they're not allowed it's that too many from public schools either simply can't afford to take time to get involved or the schools don't have a program.  I'd be shocked if DISD would aid in starting a crew program." If the City of Dallas GIVES the United Dallas Crew the lake to build on, doesn't it seem like the crew could at least step up and start a crew for at-risk and disadvantaged youth? While the rowing for the disabled is a noble goal, the Dallas Rowing Crew already does this and owns several boats to facilitate disabled rowing. Does the HP Crew one such boat? I doubt it and think it's a carrot on a stick. "We'd love to be integrated but they cannot afford us" is a response that leaves me very, very cold. White Rock Lake Park is beautifully integrated, let's not take a giant step backwards. If the HP Crew can raise $4.5 million for a boat house, they can raise $5 million for a boathouse and scholarships. About the HP Crew being duped by the Parks and Rec Dept - I hardly think so. Putting the new boat house in the location of the old Snipe Club Boat House and changing their crew's name reflects that the HP Crew is very, very savvy. The fact that they won't come clean about their eviction from the White Rock Boat House has me very concerned about the character of our incoming neighbors. As corrupt as the leadership of the Dallas Parks and Recreation has been lately, they are easy to blame. We may never know where the ballroom idea originated, but the Dallas United Crew would have made money from its rental to subsidize their sport. We all need to keep an eye on both Dallas United Crew and their expansion, and the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department in their ongoing attempts to privatize the east side of the lake. 

SoPredictable 1 Like

Had they come to the table with this plan, we still would have screamed like banshies because that's how we roll, when it comes to PC.  The whole boat house dance hall thing was BS and once again, I feel used by the City and PC.  We were dumb ass for falling for the "let's tell them it will be this, so they will go nuts because that is the only way we can build what we really want".


I think what people hate is the fact that exclusive memberships at $3,000 a year is coming to the lake, which will change the eclectic face of the lake users and eventually, East Dallas.


Good article, once again. I was one of the Garland Road crazies at the meeting and asked my questions.  My statement was about the process and the need to hit the "Reset" button and start over with a proper public announcement via City Hall with proper City Hall meetings and public input.  It does not help that the City referred requests for documents to the Texas Attorney General.  I don't think any WRL denizen is against getting people, young people, on the lake.  I love to watch the rowing, have since the 1952 US Olympic trials in Newport Beach's famed Lido Isle sound.


Size, engineering issues, parking, traffic are all concerns as we all jockey to use the resources of the lake and area surrounding the lake.  The Bath House and Big Thicket area residents have a lot of events to deal with on a weekly basis. Noise, trash and parking are chief among their concerns, and rightly so.