Late last week a Friend of Unfair Park sent word that he's very concerned about SMU's plans to expand south of Mockingbird Lane along N. Central Expressway, where the old Mrs. Baird's bakery still stands. According to the university, which will hold a public Wednesday in advance of its asking the city of Dallas for a Municipal Setting Designation, it's going to use the land to build indoor and outdoor tennis courts and "a throwing field for SMU athletics activities." Also, SMU officials announced on Friday, "The southern tip of the property will house a University data center and an enclosed, partially below-grade electrical substation." Says Paul Ward in an official missive from the Hilltop, SMU vice president for legal affairs and government relations, structures and landscaping "will reflect the level of quality characteristic of the SMU campus."
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But our Friend is concerned about groundwater contamination. SMU officials insist they're keenly aware of the dangers -- not only from the old bread factory but also a former dry cleaners that stood at the Mockingbird-Central intersection and the 7-Eleven next door -- and will address them at the Wednesday hearing. But a Municipal Setting Designation by the city allows a developer to limit the amount of clean-up needed if access to the contaminated groundwater is limited -- which is to say, if the developer can guarantee it won't be used as drinking water. Says Ward in the university's release, "SMU is working under the Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program, which allows parties to address affected properties voluntarily." And cue Darren Hambrick.