Boathouse at White Rock Will Kill Kittens!

Surely you’ve heard about the new floating boathouse that the folks from Dallas United Crew want to build at White Rock Lake. The Park and Recreation Board has given the project its unanimous approval, and the City Council is expected to vote on it next week. A small East Dallas contingent does not want to see this thing built. You can read their arguments on the Protect Home Values website. In short: the boathouse will destroy the natural setting of the lake, it will depress home values, and, worst of all, it is a facility designed by and for Highland Park residents who want to take advantage of an East Dallas asset (Dallas United Crew used to be called Highland Park Crew).

I live over on the east side of the lake, and I love how the neighborhoods there rally around a cause. When the Arboretum wanted to build a parking lot on the shores of the lake, people went insane. Last I heard, the plans had been scrapped (though I suspect vigilance, in this case, will be required). The general sentiment is: “Do not mess with the lake.” That protective instinct generally serves the neighborhoods and the lake well.

But the Dallas United Crew boathouse is a different deal. This thing isn’t going to ruin the lake. I belong to a Yahoo message group for my neighborhood whereon this issue has arisen. Earlier today, one of my neighbors, a man named Aren Cambre, rather succinctly laid out the facts in this debate. With his permission, here’s what he wrote:

Four things I’d like to say, although before that I need to clarify that I have no dog in this hunt. While I have two young kids, we’re not much of a water sports family, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they never get involved. That aside…

1. Rumors and gossip. The stuff about Dallas United Crew not getting along with the other boat house is just rumors and gossip. We learned about rumors and gossip as kids, and it’s shameful that the opposition is spreading them as if they were fact.

2. This isn’t HP. Dallas United Crew has kids from all over. The architect and project lead both live in Lake Park Estates, the neighborhood across Peavy. [Ed: Dallas United Crew is open to all North Texas youth, regardless of their school affiliation. They currently have rowers from 25 schools and 26 ZIP codes in their programs.]

3. Natural. If the concern was really preserving the natural state, we’d blow up the dam, bulldoze almost every tree, tear down all CCC buildings, and kill off all those geese. Yes, the natural state is no lake, mostly treeless rolling grassland prairies, and no birds introduced to the lake and fed by local people.

Natural is not the issue. The issue is a vocal group with a parochial attitude about the lake. That is the wrong attitude. The lake is a public asset, not the private backyard of a select few privileged people. “Natural” is merely another wedge that this group is using yet again to keep Dallas citizens away from the lake.

4. Property values. It’s absurd to suggest that making the lake more attractive will harm property values. Just look at Central Park in NYC, Boston Common, or Denver’s Washington Park. They are an order of magnitude more developed than White Rock Lake will ever be, and property values around them are sky high.

To learn more about Dallas United Crew, its programs, and the proposed boathouse, go here.