Yesterday, the Dallas City Council green-lighted a long-delayed, million-dollar renovation of the dog park at White Rock Lake. Built for a song a dozen years ago, it is crowded, muddy and in bad need of an overhaul.
City Councilman Dwaine Caraway agrees. He, like the rest of his colleagues, voted for the improvements and says he plans to pay a visit with his dog Annie once the park reopens in August. But first Caraway, as he often does, steered the conversation to the disparity between northern and southern Dallas.
"I just want to make it a point, we don't have a dog park, and doggone it, if all these millions of dollars in these dog parks with air conditioned dog houses and all these other things that they got going, then give us something," Caraway said. "At least put us in a plan for a dog park somewhere."
Indeed, all four of the city's off-leash dog parks are north of Interstate 30. In addition to the one at White Rock, there are two in Far North Dallas and one between downtown and Deep Ellum. The city is studying putting one in Oak Cliff, but an actual park is years away.
Council members Jerry Allen and Sandy Greyson, whose district includes the North Bark Dog Park off the Bush Turnpike, say council members have considerable discretion to determine how the money allotted for their district is spent.
"Two million dollars was spent in that dog park, and my understanding is that came from other parks in District 12," Greyson said. "It was the councilman's [Ron Natinsky] prerogative at the time to shift the money from people parks into dog parks."
It's true that southern Dallas council members haven't used their districts' share of bond money to pay for canine amenities, Caraway says, but he bristles at the suggestion that it's because they don't want a dog park.
"Our priority has been what? Stray dogs," Caraway told Unfair Park this morning. "Well goddamn, that's kinda unfair that we're fighting stray dogs that we can't pick up" and Greyson and Allen are suggesting they should pour their cut of bond money into dog parks.
"Our priorities are totally different from what they're saying," he says. "We're already the ones that are under-recognized, for lack of a better word, economically."
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That brings Caraway to his larger point, which is that in a city with an abundance of urgent needs that has experienced several years of austerity, $1 million is an absurd and irresponsible amount to spend renovating a dog park.
"It would have been better if it had been $300,000."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.