City Hall

Chad Lacerte, the Man Behind Watersports Complex, Isn't Going to Sue the DHA. Yet.

Last week I noted that a fairly significant wakeboard event -- scheduled to be held at the long-in-the-works Dallas Watersports Complex on Fish Trap Lake -- had to find a new home, after the Dallas Housing Authority pulled a Sybil and told Chad Lacerte thanks but no thanks after giving him the okee-doke repeatedly for more than a year. Ever since then I've been hearing from Friends of Unfair Park and friends of Lacerte's that he's planning on filing suit against the DHA for killing a project that not only passed the City Plan Commission and the city council but also was set to receive a $250,000 economic grant from the city.

I mean, it's not like the thing was a secret.

But Lacerte says that right now, at least, he's got no plans to sue the DHA. "I'm not a sue-happy guy," he tells Unfair Park. Which doesn't mean he won't sue the DHA, should push come to shove into the lake: He's got a meeting with DHA, and president and CEO MaryAnn Russ, tomorrow, and Lacerte says his decision to sue or not to sue "depends on how the outcome turns out."

So, then, what'll make him happy? "A lease," he says, and nothing but.

"Right now I am going to work with the DHA," he says. "It's the best option for me, it's the best option for the area. I want to do something good, and I want to make it the best thing. It's not a West Dallas thing. It's a world venue. When you only have 170 of something it's pretty unique, and we're trying to make this a very unique park. The reason I chose Fish Trap Lake is its location. .. So we're gonna work with DHA as much as we can, and if it comes to where they don't want do something, we might pursue something. But I haven't even started that process."

Lacerte has thus far sunk $800,000 into equipment -- and that figure, he says, doesn't come close to including the 14-plus months he's put into this endeavor, which he'd hoped to open July 1. Because, after all, DHA was, once upon a time, very much behind the project -- so much so it gave him permission to see rezoning for the property on two separate occasions. Till a couple of weeks ago, he had no reason to think he wouldn't open on time. But then Russ said she wanted to study the property and see if there weren't maybe some better uses for it. And then, as The News's editorial pointed out only yesterday, "Park Cities businessman Al Huddleston has taken the nonprofits' side in this dispute and funded a study showing elevated levels of bacteria and metals in the lake." Lacerte says his own privately funded tests show the water to be just fine.

Far as Lacerte's concerned, the Huddleston addition to the mix is "a money play" and nothing more. And, right now, it's something with which he's not concerning himself. He just wants his lease -- and the hope that he can get the Dallas Watersports Complex up and running by next season now.

"I've already lost our season," he says. "We had probably the largest cable wakeboarding event in the U.S. this year, and we had to cancel it and watch it go to Cincinnati. That's very depressing. Cincinnati has a great park. I respect the guys up there. I am going up there that weekend to help support it. We'd hoped to be wakeboarding in Dallas right now. But now, I won't try to open before next spring."