QuikTrip got the city’s permission to put a 21-space parking lot on park land near Bachman Lake, which will serve both as convenience store parking and a jumping off point for the hard-to-get-to trail behind the property. In the culmination of an issue that first appeared on a City Council agenda two years ago, Council voted on Wednesday to let QT pave the city-owned park land—in exchange for landscaping, lighting, and upkeep of the dilapidated trail—and use it over 20 years.
It was a split decision. Council member Omar Narvaez, who represents neighbors of the project, argued that the parking lot would increase accidents at an already dangerous intersection, that there’s no need for another station when there are five others within a mile, that it would be bad for the patio at a nearby Mexican restaurant and the area more generally, and that this was another example of the city neglecting Northwest Dallas while downtown receives tens of millions of dollars toward parks.
Asking where a trailhead for the tough-to-access project ranked on park priorities, Narvaez was told it didn’t make the list of needs. “That’s a shame,” he said. “The residents in Northwest Dallas, we’re getting the leftovers.”
Other council members asserted that allowing a private business to develop on park land could set a precedent the city will regret. Five—Narvaez, Adam Medrano, Kevin Felder, Philip Kingston, and Scott Griggs—voted against the measure. It passed with the other nine votes in favor.
Just before the vote, Mayor Mike Rawlings made an “if a tree falls in the forest” argument. “If we have park land and citizens can’t get to it, does it do anybody any good?” he said. “That’s the question. I think our job is to make it as easy for citizens to use park land as possible and to leverage our dollars as best as we can.”
Alex Dickey—who ran against Narvaez in 2017—made an argument during the public comment portion regarding the uncertain future of cars and gas stations. If the gas station goes away in 10 years, the free upkeep goes away, too. North Dallas Council member Lee Kleinman later retorted that the “park access is permanent.”
The patch in question is about 42,000 square feet, an unused, grassy lot butting up to a busy intersection. “Nobody would want our kids out there playing,” said Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, who represents Preston Hollow.
Gates was a an outspoken proponent but was hardly alone. Council member Rickey Callahan, of Pleasant Grove, praised QT’s business, calling them the Starbucks or the Gucci or the Nike of petroleum. Said Kleinman: “It’s a great day when we can create more access to park land. And an even greater day when we actually have someone else pay for it.”