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Friends of Oak Cliff Parks Concerned Council Will Derail Long-Planned WPA Pergola Redo

Schutze wrote the other day that Oak Cliff gets stuff done despite Dallas City Hall. Which is fine, until City Hall does get involved: The Friends of Oak Cliff Parks have been out and about in recent weeks warning groups, such as the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League and the Hampton Hills Neighborhood Association, that 2006 bond money intended for a Kiest Park redo is about to hit the trail (system, that is) per council member Dave Neumann's request. The money's specifically earmarked for the restoration of the Works Progress Administration pergola, which the city allowed to fall down years ago.

The Friends of Oak Cliff Parks has been trying for years to "see the magnificent pergola back in place." According to an e-mail from Barbara Barbee, president of the Friends, since 2003 the group has raised more than $150,000 worth of private donations from the likes of the Oak Cliff Lions' Club, Methodist Health Systems, Coca Cola, Home Depot, the Dallas Day Lily Society and just regular folks. She also says the Friends have put in more than 20,000 volunteer hours during that time, at Kiest and other Oak Cliff parks in need of an extreme makeover.

"All this work, money and in-kind donations have been used to restore the parks and some of the historic WPA structures," she writes in a letter to the council. "We consider that these seven years of effort have more than fulfilled our part of the partnership. Now we call on the City of Dallas to honor your commitment to the restoration of the historic Kiest WPA Pergola, which was the crowning jewel of Kiest Memorial Garden for decades."

The Friends are trying to finish the pergola so it can finally apply to put the entirety of the Kiest Memorial Garden on the National Register of Historic Places. A Friend of Unfair Park who's been involved with the restoration puts it like this: "Neglect by the city allowed the pergola to fall down. Now, ward politics may keep this project from being completed." I'd call Neumann for comment, but he never returned my last call.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky