City Hall

Dallas Arboretum and City Hall Want You to Know: Winfrey Point Ain't Paradise, And They're Not Paving it Anyway

After an agreement was reached earlier to let the city mow the wild grass at Winfrey Point, both City Hall and the Arboretum have come out firing PR-wise, trying to turn the tide of support for keeping cars off of the "prairie."

Below you'll find releases sent by both City Hall, which swears it's got no plans to pave the point, and the Arboretum, which enlists a botanist who pretty much calls Winfrey Point a big patch of weeds. (I put that part in bold.)

Protesters like the ones above were out at the point all day, but they didn't get much action: The city says it won't plow before Monday.

From City Hall:

The City is pleased that the temporary restraining order is dissolved and that it can proceed forward to provide additional parking at Winfrey Point for the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society and other users of White Rock Lake. Although the City can now mow the grass and provide additional parking at Winfrey Point, the City will not do so this weekend.

The only thing the City agreed to today in court is not to construct a permanent parking structure at Winfrey Point for the time being. But the City has no plans to build such a structure there for the foreseeable future. Instead, the City and the Arboretum have been considering building a parking structure on Garland Road for several years. And contrary to what has been said by some, the City also has no plans to move or eliminate any baseball fields at the lake.

White Rock Lake is one of the City's treasures. So many people love to go to the lake that there has been a parking shortage there for years. That has resulted in many people parking in the nearby neighborhoods and businesses. The plan to allow parking on some of the grass near Winfrey Point is a temporary measure until permanent solutions to the parking problem can be developed and implemented. The City and its Park Board will continue to work with the Arboretum, the people who live and work near the lake, and the many users of the lake to develop and implement solutions to the parking shortage.

From the Arboretum:

DALLAS (May 4, 2012)- Today, the 192nd Civil District Court of Dallas County dissolved a Temporary Restraining Order and Temporary Injunction that was brought against the Dallas Arboretum earlier this week. The injunction was an attempt to halt parking at Winfrey Point, an area of White Rock Lake Park.

Winfrey Point was mowed by the city for decades and those attending events at the lake would park on the mowed areas. Due to budget constraints, in recent years, the Park Department ceased mowing Winfrey Point and the areas were permitted to grow, allowing invasive plants to become established and to spread. The plaintiffs have made allegations to create the impression that Winfrey Point is an endangered ecosystem and that it contains pristine, native grasses.

"This claim could not be further from the truth. Almost all of the grasses observed at Winfrey Point are non-native, invasive species. I identified 15 species of non-native grasses, some of which are very aggressive," said Dr. Robert O'Kennon, Ph.D. "These non-native grasses and plants at Winfrey Point need to be kept under control and appropriately mowed or eradicated to attempt to prevent their spread to and the destruction of the other regions of White Rock Lake Park with native flora. Furthermore, 'Blackland Prairie' is a soil type; it does not refer to what grows on it. There are 12 million acres of 'Blackland Prairie' in North Texas."

"Those unfamiliar with the situation are being misled by those with an agenda, and are not being given all the facts or an explanation of the various concerns," said Brian Shivers, Chairman of the Board at the Dallas Arboretum. "The top concern is that the limited parking around the lake is a safety issue for Dallas citizens who enjoy White Rock Lake as a place to run, cycle, walk and take in the scenery."

The Dallas Park and Recreation Department asked the Dallas Arboretum, experienced in event management and parking coordination, to manage parking and traffic at Winfrey Point for White Rock Lake Park events and the Arboretum. The Arboretum is also exploring partnerships with other conservation organizations to replant sections of the area with true native plants. "We want to be a good neighbor, and if requested to do so by the city, we will take care of parking for Winfrey Point and provide ideas for beautification so it continues to be a great asset for White Rock Lake," said Mary Brinegar, President and CEO of the Dallas Arboretum.

"This is a win-win for the City of Dallas. Those attending the events at Winfrey Point and visiting White Rock Lake will finally be able to park in a safe and orderly way," said Paul Dyer, Director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. "We hear many concerns from residents and lake users about the traffic congestion and parking issues at Winfrey Point. More and more people are using and visiting White Rock Lake and currently, there is inadequate parking. People visiting the lake and attending the many runs and ball games often turn to dangerous and illegal parking. Further, grass that's left unmowed is a fire hazard and threatens homes in the area."

The Arboretum and the City of Dallas, and the Park and Recreation Department are collaborating to act as good stewards to balance the use of Winfrey Point and act in the best interest of the people of the City of Dallas as a whole. The Arboretum has been on record with the city about its willingness to work with the Little League and the ball fields at Winfrey Point and has met with their leadership assuring them of such.
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Joe Tone
Contact: Joe Tone