Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm first suggested selling Elgin B. Robertson Park in mid-May, in a document presented to the city council titled "FY 2010-11 Budget: Brainstorming Ideas." Wrote Suhm and city staff, money raised from dispensing with the 257 acres on Lake Ray Hubbard -- a parcel of land acquired, 10 miles outside the city limits, in 1966 -- would "be used for park capital program including land acquisition." It wasn't the first time Suhm had proposed selling the land: In September 2008 the council's Economic Development Committee was told it had three choices: Keep the land and make better use of it; sell to a private developer; or partner with a nearby city that might actually make use of Elgin B.
There have been others interested -- Rowlett, for instance, which, in 2005, offered $15 million for the park, and said it'd be happy to enter into a 20-year tax-sharing deal with Dallas. The city said no, no thanks. But Rowlett, it is said, remains interested. So too "other developers interested in developing the land," wrote Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez in a memo to the city council on August 27. But selling the park required a referendum. So to the voters it was put yesterday: Would it be OK if the city sold, or at least had the right to sell, Elgin B. Robertson Park (as well as the 25-acres Joey Georgusis Park, first suggested by Park and Rec in June)?
And the voters said, overwhelmingly: No, it is not OK. Exactly 96,011 people nixed the Elgin B. Robertson sale; 81,957 were in favor. Joey G. was also spared: 94,885 to 82,791. So, now what? Wrote Gonzalez in summer: "In the event the City chooses not to sell the property, the park would likely remain as open space with minimal maintenance and development limited to accommodate boat access to the lake."