There are two stories in The Times-Picayune this morning about New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton's move back to the DFW -- or, more specifically, the 525 acres of "protected enclave" known as Vaquero nestled within Westlake. One looks at how Saints fans are taking the news of Payton's return to "Dallas, that symbol of suburban sprawl"; long story short, not well. The other story looks at Westlake itself -- which is to new money, says one SMU grad student living there, what Highland Park is to old dough.
It's a long piece pitting the sprawl and "soullessness" of Dallas (despite the fact Westlake's in Tarrant and Denton Counties) against the "charm" of New Orleans. But Times-Picayune writer Bob Warren is a fan of Westlake; so too is a certain resident of next-door Southlake.
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While some New Orleanians, in the throes of angst over Payton's announced move, have criticized Dallas as transient, sterile and status-driven, a drive around Westlake shows it to be a much different place from the suburbs spreading from the city -- and certainly light years away from the small-world ambiance and tumbledown charm of New Orleans. The open pasture land gives Westlake a slower, more country feel.
Yes, Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention and Visitor Bureau says, Westlake is very different than what you'd experience in New Orleans. But, he said, it's probably not so different than how Payton's family lives now in the gated Sanctuary community in leafy Mandeville.
"There's much more space. Great schools, great quality of life. Westlake is idyllic,'' said Jones, who lives in Southlake, the next town over, and understands the New Orleans area well from having served as secretary of Louisiana's Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism under then-Louisiana Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco.