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Dallas Arboretum Wins Parking Fight…For Now

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Arboretum gets a temporary win in its efforts to use part of White Rock Lake for overflow parking, after some residents went to court to try and block the plan.

Grassland in part of the area at Winfrey Point had been scheduled for mowing, so cars from the Arboretum could park there if necessary.

On Friday, while both sides were still in court, protesters were at the site. About 100 people spent several hours in a vigil to confront City of Dallas mowing crews if they showed up.

Calling the grassland an important ecosystem, opponents promised to picket a weekend arts event at the Arboretum.

“The tragic thing is you’re going to destroy a wildlife and wildflower area,” claimed Ted Barker, who lives on nearby Emerald Isle street, “so you can go see glass representations of flowers.”

Meanwhile, in court, attorneys for both the residents and the city spent hours haggling over an agreement, and finally decided that city and Arboretum plans could advance; but the city promised it would not make any permanent changes to the area pending a further court hearing.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get all the terms we wanted but we stay in the fight and we’re with the citizens and we’re proud of what they’re doing and we hope to see them at Winfrey Point,” said Hailey Hobren.

Hobren said she is also worried about the seasonal nature of grass in the area.

“It needs to be mowed in order to say alive, but it needs to be seeded first, and that’s our concern, is that will it grow back?” she questioned. “That’s what we’ve been trying to prevent. So hopefully nature takes care of it.”

At Winfrey Point, the councilman for the area, Sheffie Kadane, tried to smooth ruffled feathers.

“There will be no mowing here this weekend at all,” claimed Kadane, adding, “They are not doing anything to this facility. We’re going to see if we can’t do something different. I don’t want to see our park turned into a parking lot or a concrete jungle. Just like the rest of you.”

Kadane said he’d been previously muzzled because he was part of the lawsuit, but Friday he put on a protest shirt to show his solidarity.

Arboretum officials, meantime, claimed much of the issue had been blown out of proportion.

Chairman of the Board Brian Shivers said, “The space at Winfrey Point was another overflow parking lot; it was never intended to be primary parking.”

Arboretum President and CEO, Mary Brinegar, went even further and claimed the grassland has been mowed for years.

“The land is neither rare, pristine, nor an endangered ecosystem,” she told reporters. “There are people who have spread that word and that must be corrected.”

Brinegar further stated that an Arboretum grass expert said there is 15 “non-native, invasive species” of grass at the location that need to be kept under control.

Late Friday afternoon the city confirmed Kadane’s claim that there would be no mowing or parking on Winfrey Point, at least this weekend.

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