Poll: Development Around White Rock Lake?

Are East Dallas residents standing in the way of great new amenities?

See, White Rock Lake isn't too bad.  (photo: John McStravick/Flickr)
See, White Rock Lake isn’t too bad. (photo: John McStravick/Flickr)

In the June issue of D Magazine, Eric Celeste writes about the not-in-my-backyard attitude many East Dallas residents have about development around White Rock Lake. In discussing the debate over a proposed restaurant on Boy Scout Hill:

Given the area’s liberalism and strong sense of place, it’s understandable that lake-area residents protect White Rock as if it’s theirs and theirs alone. In 1986, it was the Arboretum that wanted to build a restaurant on the lake. Rejected! In 2005, a 25-story high-rise was proposed. Denied! The next year, developers floated the idea of turning a well-known building at the lake’s northeast corner, Big Thicket, into a restaurant. Not in my house! A parking lot at Winfrey Point (swatted into the stands) and even a floating boathouse for a rowing team (okay, but we’re not happy about it!) were dismissed for being environmentally insensitive plans of callous developers who didn’t understand the specialness of the lake.

The problem: with the Boy Scout Hill restaurant, that wasn’t the case. Burgin and Kopf were sincere and worked hard to address residents’ fears.

Their proposal was withdrawn, but it’s certain not to be the last such debate. Are the people who live in that part of town standing in the way of potentially great new places around the lake? Or are they valiantly protecting a Dallas treasure?


  • Greg Brown

    This is not a NUMBY issue. This is about private development on public park land, where developers get all the reward and the city assumes all the liability. Any developer can put their own money at risk to develop any private land they want to around the lake. Just leave the public park land alone for the enjoyment of all citizens of Dallas. Why is this such a difficult concept for D to grasp?

  • val

    Without the details, these type of poll is not worth the paper it is printed on… Except maybe as a PR exercise ?
    Where would this hypothetical ‘little’ restaurant be ? How big would it be ? How many parking spaces ?What square footage ? Where to the sewage go? What would be the impact on wildlife, on free access to picnic areas, on traffic, on noise, light and other pollution ? Saying, “we will do our best to have little impact” is not the same as working hard to address practical concerns in a meaningful way.

  • eastdallasgirl

    I don’t understand why people won’t leave a wonderful area alone. It’s one of the few FREE places in Dallas to experience nature. There are plenty of places minutes away from the lake to eat and drink…Cane Roso, Goodfriend, Gingerman. If you want to eat at the lake, bring a picnic.

  • Raymond Crawford

    As long as the City of Dallas continues to make plans and deals in secret without residential input, our city
    will continue to be sold off piece by piece.http://deaneighbors.com/2014/05/27/warning-signs/

    • Ted_Barker

      Help me count the ways……

  • Joel

    Pretty much all of Dallas County has been paved or developed within an inch of its life. Is it asking too much to allow White Rock Lake to be a non-commercialized sanctuary for all Dallas (and beyond) residents?

    I don’t live by the lake, but that is hardly the issue anyway … that’s just another less-than-subtle strategy for would-be developers (and those who shill for them under the thin guise of writing “editorials” ) to attempt to exploit.

  • Johnyalamo

    I live and work around the lake. I would not be opposed to the city contracting with private vendors for use of the snack stands and established buildings around the lake. However there should be some transparency in the process. It would be nice to pull off at big Thicket or the pump house to have a snack or beverage. This was, after all the intent of the lake as a recreational park. Currently, these buildings sit closed or may be rented out once in a while by the city. The bathrooms are never open. Perhaps some private ambition could revitalize these little pockets around the park.

  • Lakewoodpeeps

    I don’t understand the tone D Mag is taking toward the residents of east dallas. Like any change, this has supporters and detractors. Casting everyone who lives in a large part of our city as crazed backward liberals is just a bizarre choice. Maybe some are crazed, maybe some are backward, maybe some are (gasp) liberals. But most people who I see around here are just plain nice neighbors – who might stop buying your increasingly snarky magazine.

    • Ted_Barker

      Actually, I like the pitchforks analogy…. Woe be those who venture into the park with mal-intent.

  • Alexander

    The word “around” is too vague for me. Casa Linda is “around” the lake as is Winsted Dr. I’m all for building those areas up. Let the market decide and all that. But the city should not be in the business of choosing winners and losers, they should not privatize public lands. They should be in the business of managing the park land well so that private enterprise can benefit from the foot traffic it creates.

  • Mike

    As long as we’re discussing that area, has anyone looked into how much money was wasted on the Arboretum building a parking lot, using it for, what, a year or so, then tearing it down to build a new multi-level lot in it’s place?

  • judy

    The options in this poll are vague. You list::
    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Depends. Nothing as large as Sam’s Club, obviously, but a nice bistro on a hill overlooking the lake wouldn’t be the worst idea.

    There is nothing wrong with a nice bistro overlooking the lake… if it’s not built IN the PARK. It’s a park not a potential restaurant row, which is what I can envision happening once the door is open. Even if it were kept to this ONE proposed bar/restaurant, it’s just not right to use what little public parkland there is. Your author, Eric Celeste, didn’t address many of the negative issues that the proposed restaurant would have brought. It was sad to read such one-sided journalism. It was also very disappointing that D Magazine would not have even made an attempt to address the concerns of “the other side,” which includes not only the majority of residents in the area, but also those from all over Dallas and it’s suburbs. Should the name of this magazine be changed to “D”evelopment under any circumstance Magazine?

  • Jim Schermbeck

    Some places just need saving from the rest of Dallas….

    • Ted_Barker

      …. and the Park Board

  • Seven

    It’s a public park that belongs to all the people of Dallas. Leave the green space alone.

  • Grumpy_Demo

    Exactly, this statement’s stupidity is only exceed by it inaccuracy “area’s liberalism and strong sense of place, it’s understandable that lake-area residents protect White Rock as if it’s theirs and theirs alone.”

    Protecting a public resource for continued public use is not treating a park as theirs alone.

    Clueless, stupid or just kissing the developer’s tail (are they friends of Wick)?

  • Ted_Barker

    Eric and Tim,

    I know a lot of folks are steamed with the titles and the language. I look at the suite of article as “bear-baiting”.

    We started paying attention with the DUC article and “kills kittens” comment (which I loved).

    Since the Advocate dubbed me as the “Defender of White Rock Lake” back in 2010, I have worn the mantle just as Joe King Carrasco would have done in his prime. Even Richard Gere danced to Caca de Vaca.

    There is plenty of room for archery exercises out here at the “Jewel of Dallas”, tarnish and all.

    Most of us like the lake just as it is….. thank you very much. See ya’ at the Greenspot.

  • Ted_Barker

    Just added Lake House, an enterprise that was turned down for an “at-the-lake” experience. Nice joint and a great boost for the cycle shop next door.

  • Freeze

    Eric, do you laugh or do you cry when you read these comments? Either people did not actually read your column, or the lack of reading comprehension is stunning.

  • James Parker

    Perhaps East Dallas residents take a sense of ownership for the Lake because their efforts are primarily responsible for it being the urban oasis that it is today. In the 1980’s, the park’s facilities were in disrepair and it was known primarily as a place to buy drugs, get drunk, and start fights with kids from Bryan Adams or Bishop Lynch. It was the neighbors–not the City and not developers–who suggested and pushed for traffic and public safety improvements. It was the people in East Dallas–not anybody in Preston Hollow or Plano–who raised public and private funds for improvements. So yeah, people in East Dallas are extremely protective of the Lake. If they aren’t protective, experience shows that nobody else will be.

    You’re welcome.

    • Ron Strelke

      Wow! Why throw us Bryan Adams kids under the bus. Best I can remember it was about 79 when they made traffic one way and ran off all the cruisin high schoolers and loitering and littering. Drove by the lake just last week for the first time in over 30 years. It certainly has changed but I could not say what I saw was all bad. Think Central Park… one restaurant (Tavern on the Green) did not begat Restaurant Row.

  • artgecko

    Development near White Rock Park is fine, but not in the park. Leave the park, a park.

  • Hal Riney’s Pen

    We get it, Eric. The restaurant, was not a good idea, Lakewooders are meanies and Burgin & Kopf are goodfellas. Mission accomplished.

    Your portrayal of Lakewooders as the “party of no” is an interesting portrayal that will serve your new development pals very well as future projects continue to creep into park land.

  • Kelly

    Well this is a trick question , as a person who lives and works around the lake , and uses the lake 5 or 6 times a week. The city gives sweet heart deals to the ones they like without thinking of others who might care , you see its not up to us at all so I’m not sure why they bother to even ask. Another boat house that floats , what about using the one at the filter its one of the largest in the country yet its only for a select few , and sits almost empty. Now a a bistro , well the filter would be a perfect place and is already set up for it , but its a private place for members only or set up for rental maybe (get on the list) . So I ask , do you want another sweet heart deal only to be shut out after it opens? Another vote behind closed doors , another sweet heart deal to a friend of the city , well I will bring my lunch sit on open ground and shake my head in disappointment and enjoy the lake before we get to pay an entrance fee , so you see its not for us to decide they have already decided ..

  • cleanup crew

    When the rest of Dallas starts cleaning up the mess left by the picnickers, they too can claim ownership of the lake. Taxes don’t cover all the clean up. If you use the lake area, pick up after yourself, throw your trash in the receptacles or stay in your own neighborhood. The lake does not need more development.

  • Kathleen Lynch

    “A nice bistro on a hill overlooking the lake wouldn’t be the worst idea. – 43% (667 votes).” Problem is, a nice bistro that is not a destination restaurant will never make it financially. A “bistro” on the lake will have to be big enough (and near to Buckner/Mockingbird/Garland roads to bring in outside business, via cars) and also serve alcohol to survive. In order to do so, it can’t be in an existing structure, thus a portion of the park land will have to be paved over, etc. for a new structure, parking, etc. Of course, the poll does not state this reality. Therefore people are voting “maybe” without considering exactly what “maybe” means. “Maybe” means destination restaurant, cars, parking, lights, noise, congestion, more traffic, trash, and the list goes on…

  • OLH resident

    Sorry, gotta disagree with you there. Lake House is a terrible restaurant that will be out of business within two years.

  • Wendy Quenzer

    I am okay with limited mobile restaurants (i.e. food trucks– like the beloved White Rock Paddle Co). But I stand firm in my belief: There is NO NEED to destroy one of Dallas’ few natural beauties with commercialism and concrete. White Rock Lake is the gem of Dallas. It is *my* lake and I seek to protect it. Pick up a picnic basket from Scardello’s or a pizza from nearby Olivella’s and a blanket and find a lovely spot lakeside to enjoy the moment in tranquil nature, people-watch the cyclists, runners, fishermen, children, couples, families and more who are also enjoying this one-of-a-kind nature preserve treasure in DFW.

  • Michael Jung

    As a registered Republican, I get my fair share of biased poll questions. (“Do you agree that spitting on the sidewalk should be capital offense, or do you side with the Godless Communistic Obama Administration that says it shouldn’t?”) But you guys clearly deserve to be in the World Series of slanted, one-sided poll questions. One can only imagine how much stronger the “no” side would have been if you had pitched the ball straight over the plate.

  • jasonheid

    How is “It depends. Nothing too big, but maybe something nice” not a legitimate answer?

  • Michael Jung

    It is. The problem is not with the choice of answers, but with the preamble, which is one-sided, biased, and insulting.

  • jasonheid

    Ah, then I guess you didn’t like Eric’s article. OK.

  • jasonheid

    I added an extra sentence to the post that I really should have included at the start, revising my oversimplification of Eric’s piece.

  • Michael Jung

    Better. Thank you. But the lead-in from Eric’s piece still paints opponents of Lake development as self-centered knee-jerk reactionaries beating up on the “sincere,” hard-working developers. Hardly an objective summary of the pro and con sides.

  • Greg Brown

    Now you know where those “polls” come from that show some random dictator with 100% of the vote in the upcoming election.

  • Heard it all

    This “poll” is a joke. It’s so obviously written by the developers or their PR agents… “a nice bistro on a hill overlooking the lake wouldn’t be the worst idea”—really? More yellow journalism from “D”eveloper’s Magazine. Since you guys don’t know the first thing about how to write a real poll, let me introduce you to a little subject called, “integrity.” I know D Magazine has no idea about integrity as this “poll” demonstrates. But that subject would require you to phrase your poll like this: “Should we allow commercial development INSIDE White Rock Lake park? Yes? No? Undecided” See? Without integrity it’s just propaganda: a covert attempt to manipulate people into a state of mind so they can be further exploited.

  • on the hill

    The lake needs to be for pedestrian, bikes and boaters. why bring more traffic (parking lots, cars and trucks) into the lake. On another thought lets bring Dart rail into the lake so everyone has the opportunity to visit.
    Living just fine without it.

  • Jim Johnson

    I grew up around that lake, and it is one of the few places left in Dallas that doesn’t make me dry heave when I see it. I explored nearly every inch of its shore, and the creeks that it feeds, and I hope that the residents stay vigilant in their disapproval of any “so called” improvements.

  • Prince Eugene Moore

    What a great place to jet ski.

  • md

    “NIMBYs” like Ted Barker are why my kids and I can still enjoy flying our kite at our favorite spot in Dallas, Winfrey Point. If the people like Ted weren’t looking out on everyone’s behalf then my kids and I would be looking at a giant, vacant parking lot for the Dallas Arborteum instead of tons of beautiful wildflowers overlooking the best view in the city of Dallas.

  • Seven

    It’s not NIMBY, it’s NIOP (Not In Our Park). Less catchy, but more correct.

  • enk

    What a biased leading summary of the events! Even with this huge negative summary the majority is agains the development. Enough said.

  • King of Plano

    What happened to the Eric Celeste that was writing the insightful and entertaining civic commentary at Culture Map? Eric has a terrific voice and great insight about Dallas.

    I’m disappointed with quality of his work since he left CultureMap. His recent articles and blog posts feels like he is a PR hack undercover as a columnist. I still can’t understand why he had so much interest in the development at Irving Entertainment Center or why he would write such a lazy article on the proposed development at White Rock Lake.

    Two weeks ago, Eric announced he was leaving his latest job for a new adventure and he would tell us last week where he was going. So far, silence. I wish him well if he follows the money and advises clients in real estate development and education issues. Those fools are willing to pay a lot of money for issues management. But if he does follow the green, I hope he stops writing for publications because working in both arenas is damaging his good reputation.