If you were to do a power ranking of city of Dallas governmental bodies, the Park Board would come in third, behind the City Council (obviously) and the City Plan Commission, the whims of which can make or break multimillion dollar development deals.
The Park Board's 15 members are appointed by the City Council and the mayor. They're technically responsible for everything parks-related in the city. Is your neighborhood park not getting mowed? Is the playground equipment decapitating children? The Park Board is, under the city charter, responsible for fixing it. Wondering why the city's swimming pools are so terrible? Or the rec centers? That's the Park Board, too. Want to build a parking garage atop/underneath future parkland? Bulldoze Fair Park? Park Board.
The challenge for the average resident is figuring out how to get a hold of their district's Park Board representative. You can try and shoehorn them at their monthly meeting, assuming you can knock off work in the middle of a Thursday, or try and catch them at a public event. If that fails, there's always the option of waiting in the bushes for them to arrive home, although in some neighborhoods this is frowned upon.
Yes, a quick email would be easier, but as The Dallas Morning News' Tom Benning reported last month, some appointees were hesitant to share their contact information for fear that they might actually have to hear from their constituents. They killed (but may ultimately revive) a "Contact Me" feature on the Park Department's new website.
We never liked those impersonal Contact Me forms anyway, so we submitted an open records request for the email addresses of all 15 Park Board members. Thirteen of them (poor, naive souls) agreed to their release. Two -- Lawrence Jones and Jean Milligan -- did not, prompting the city to file a request for an Attorney General's opinion on whether a law protecting public officials' personal phone numbers and home address also applies to emails.
We're still searching for Jones', but Milligan's, ironically enough, is readily available on the web. She's not quite as averse, it seems, to hearing from fellow members of the American Bridge Association as from her constituents.
And so, without further ado, is contact information for your Dallas Park Board. Feel free to introduce yourselves.
Mayor Max Wells (President) email@example.com
District 1 Barbara Barbee firstname.lastname@example.org
District 2 Jesse Moreno email@example.com
District 3 Jean F. Milligan firstname.lastname@example.org
District 4 Matt Houston email@example.com
District 5 Yolanda F. Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
District 6 Celina Barajas email@example.com
District 7 Tiffinni A. Young firstname.lastname@example.org
District 8 Gail Terrell (Vice President) email@example.com
District 9 Gerald Worrall III firstname.lastname@example.org
District 10 Robin Moss Norcross email@example.com
District 11 Amy W. Monier firstname.lastname@example.org
District 12 Rodney Schlosser email@example.com
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District 13 Lawrence S. Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
District 14 Paul Sims email@example.com
Thanks to an anonymous emailer, this post has been updated with Lawrence Jones' email address.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.