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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.

  • andrewk

    I think being a proponent of even the “illusion of natural” is a valid argument – if the boathouse does detract from the illusion of a natural setting and tranquility of the lake, I’d say that is a valid argument. So I discount argument #3.

    I’m not convinced the boathouse would ruin the illusion, though, especially if done right. Maybe in one spot of the lake the landscape changes, but if there’s still places around the lake that you can enjoy an illusion of natural beauty, then the nature-lovers and boathouse-lovers should be able to coexist.

    Let them eat lake!

    PS. I’m terrified of the concept of Tim and Aren as neighbors. I thought the neighborhood association had rules against that.

  • jrd

    The “Protect Home Values” site doesn’t list the names of the people behind it? That greatly decrements from their credibility.

    I think the boathouse will be a great add & I welcome it to the neighborhood.

  • White Rock Lake Lover

    The new boathouse is going to be a great asset for the city. It’s not going to cost the city anything – DUC is going to pay for it soup to nuts, and will be paying the city part of the proceeds as well.

    The boathouse will have a minimal impact on the lake view. In the plans I saw about 35 feet of shoreline is affected by a small public space and the (open-to-the-public) entrance to the gangway.

    I went to one of the public meetings they had (the late July one). These folks have really tried to minimize the impact on the area and it shows. Most of them live near the lake and are Dallas residents. They’re good people.

    There are a few paranoid types on the east side of the Lake who have a problem with this. Many of them want to stop anyone who’s not within walking distance of White Rock from coming to the park. They don’t want anything done to improve the area, not even mowing. I hope the City doesn’t listen to these malcontents and lets DUC put the boathouse in.

  • _mm_

    I’m against everything, and I’m kinda for this.

  • More Issues To Consider

    The biggest complaints I have about the new boathouse is that
    1) a boathouse already exists and a new one is frivolous.
    And 2) you give permission for development to one group, it will set a precedent and will invite demands for more development. (Hey, you let him, why not me?!)
    And who gets to choose who gets to build on the lake? You? Me?
    So if everyone wants a piece of the lake, maybe no one should have any.

  • Dubious Brother

    The privileged people around White Rock Lake didn’t mind when the Dallas taxpayers ponied up $12+ million to dredge the lake a decade or so ago. Had that not been done, the lake would now be a nice place for softball fields with a creak running though it that would flood during heavy rains. Let DUC build the boathouse with their own money and make the water part of the lake accessible to more people before it has to be dredged again. Why is there even a discussion about this?

  • Avid Reader

    I don’t mind the new boathouse; but there needs to be a better explained answer as to why they can’t just use the massive newly updated White Rock Boat House.

  • Peninsula

    I live in the Peninsula on the east side of the lake. I’m posting without using my real name because the nut jobs who dominate our neighborhood and who run the neighborhood association will make my life hell if they find out who I am. Why? Because I’m all for the new Dallas United boathouse and they are against anything that makes the lake more appealing. It’s not fun disagreeing with these people, they kind of come after you.

    I got familiar with the boathouse project because of a chance encounter with one of the group’s parents while at the Green Spot in June. We ended up talking for almost an hour and he showed me their plans. He talked some about the existing rowing program but was really excited about the fact that they’re going to have a program to help disabled veterens get out on the water and also that they had already started a recreational program for middle schoolers. They’re also going to have spaces for people who own kayaks to store them there. Since then I’ve been out and watched the team practice several times. Those kids work their butts off including unloading and prepping the boats every day and then putting them back on the trailer when they’re done. It’s hard to believe that anyone who’s seen these kids could be against them having a place to row.

    My nut job neighbors are petty people. At the last neighborhood meeting they brought in some other nut jobs who were critisizing the boathouse but they didn’t have anyone from the boathouse there to present the other side. Apparently there’s no room for discussion in the Peninsula. I’m just glad there’s a few places like this where I can voice my opinion, even if I have to do it anonymously.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Seriously, go look inside, it’s rarely not-open and no one will care if you walk around. After a few short years, it’s filled to the ceiling. They can make do for a while, but they are going to run out of room. Keep in mind that an 8 person boat with a cox is about 65 feet long. When I see the Cistercian boys in their black boats, my first thought is “Viking Invasion!” But it’s a great sport for the kids and many are participating.

  • jrd

    There are now yard-signs (I presume from the people behind the Protect Home Values site) that say “Save White Rock Lake Park”. I disagree with them, but there are valid arguments against the boathouse and it is worthy of an honest debate; but these signs are straight-up alarmist and only serve to promote emotional reactions over reasoned discussion.

  • mark

    My biggest concern is that this project is publicly promoted as a rowing center “primarily” for kids of high school age…but…provisions are quietly underway for the licensing of liquor to be served on site. You can peel away the sugar coated wrapper and find that this project still smells of a freeloading social center for the wealthy Park Cities Mafia who pay no taxes toward the Dallas Parks and heavily influence our two local “sell out” councilmen.

  • Kermit

    Considering the growth of ANY athletic program at White Rock Lake Park to be detrimental to property values is a joke. As a runner and cyclist who has been training at the lake since the late ’70s, I can attest to the fact that before the explosion of running, cycling, AND rowing the lake was a dangerous gang-banger, low-rider, homosexual meeting, drug-dealers paradise. You couldn’t have given away a lot of the houses that now have “Protect Home Values” signs in the yard.

  • Aren Cambre

    Where are your made up facts coming from? From one of the DUC leaders:

    “Let me also state very clearly that DUC has not nor will they try to get a liquor license. That is counter to the team’s mission. There was a standard city-inserted clause in the proposed contract that relates to the process of allowing the serving (not sale) of alcohol that is in place for libraries and any number of public-private facilities. Note that DUC asked that that clause be removed and that the city agreed to eliminate it.”

  • Gary McDonnell

    You are completely incorrect. This is a fabrication created by people who took a standard clause that the City of Dallas put in the DUC contract that relates to the ability to serve food and alcohol at private events. This clause is in place for any number of organizations in the City including libraries.

    That being said, DUC asked for the clause to be removed and the City did so. This was over 2 weeks ago.

  • Offended “Momma’ Cat”

    I take GREAT OFFENSE to the mere title (“The White Rock Boathouse Will Kill Kittens”) of your article. Seriously, as a “writer” was that the greatest pinnacle of prose you could aspire to? I feel that I speak for many, many others who diligently work (and volunteer, at that) tirelessly to keep alive those (that cannot speak for themselves) which you – whether tongue in cheek or not – proclaimed here to demise!

    And… while on the subject of offenses and demise… the DUC Boat House project is also offensive and nothing short of a complete detriment to White Rock Lake, PERIOD. My ultimate concern lies deep and is far beyond retaining the value of my property (and no, I am not one of the referenced, so-called “privileged people”)… but I AM (and my family IS) INDEED PRIVILEGED to have lived close enough to have enjoyed the Lake for half of a century. That being said, I expect to see that my grandchild(ren) is (are) PRIVILEGED to do the same and in the same “Natural” state – remaining without any additional form or forms of outside influence. There is IMMEASURABLE VALUE simply in the Lake itself – therefore, LEAVE IT ALONE; be you the “Fancy Garland Road Garden” or a Rowing Club.

    Please also note, I am 110% for helping students and the disabled… ALL of which, in fact, have lived under our roof (so take that argument right off the “playing field”)… our stance has always been and shall ever be: “If you want to help, then first do no harm”… same goes for the Lake which we love… and ALL living things around it.

    In closing, you and your rhetorical soundboard are indeed birds of a (twisted) feather …”kill off all those geese”… really… you have both, no doubt, succeeded in “hitting one out of the park” with animal advocates, haven’t you? …let alone having a “finger on the trigger” in the “assisted killing” of one of Dallas’ greatest “Natural” resources… and, if you want to live near “Central Park” (or any city mentioned above) believing it is so great and ultimately surround yourselves with “sky high property values” then, by all means, pack-up and move to NYC, Boston or Denver… please! …and we – kittens, cats, coyotes, runners, cyclists, star-gazers, picnicking families / lovers, Boy and Girl Scouts, ‘take a drive around the lake because it is a magnificent day and / or tradition to do so’, ducks, geese and ALL – will STILL be enjoying our beautiful treasure – White Rock Lake – without you… OR an unwanted, unnecessary Boat House~~~

  • Offended “Momma’ Cat”

    I take GREAT OFFENSE to the mere title (“The White Rock Boathouse Will Kill Kittens”) of your article. Seriously, as a “writer” was that the greatest pinnacle of prose you could aspire to? I feel that I speak for many, many others who diligently work (and volunteer, at that) tirelessly to keep alive those (that cannot speak for themselves) which you – whether tongue in cheek or not – proclaimed here to demise!

    And… while on the subject of offenses and demise… the DUC Boat House project is also offensive and nothing short of a complete detriment to White Rock Lake, PERIOD. My ultimate concern lies deep and is far beyond retaining the value of my property (and no, I am not one of the referenced, so-called “privileged people”)… but I AM (and my family IS) INDEED PRIVILEGED to have lived close enough to have enjoyed the Lake for half of a century. That being said, I expect to see that my grandchild(ren) is (are) PRIVILEGED to do the same and in the same “Natural” state – remaining without any additional form or forms of outside influence. There is IMMEASURABLE VALUE simply in the Lake itself – therefore, LEAVE IT ALONE; be you the “Fancy Garland Road Garden” or a Rowing Club.

    Please also note, I am 110% for helping students and the disabled… ALL of which, in fact, have lived under our roof (so take that argument right off the “playing field”)… our stance has always been and shall ever be: “If you want to help, then first do no harm”… same goes for the Lake which we love… and ALL living things around it.

    In closing, you and your rhetorical soundboard are indeed birds of a (twisted) feather …”kill off all those geese”… really… you have both, no doubt, succeeded in “hitting one out of the park” with animal advocates, haven’t you? …let alone having a “finger on the trigger” in the “assisted killing” of one of Dallas’ greatest “Natural” resources… and, if you want to live near “Central Park” (or any city mentioned above) believing it is so great and ultimately surround yourselves with “sky high property values” then, by all means, pack-up and move to NYC, Boston or Denver… please! …and we – kittens, cats, coyotes, runners, cyclists, star-gazers, picnicking families / lovers, Boy and Girl Scouts, ‘take a drive around the lake because it is a magnificent day and / or tradition to do so’, ducks, geese and ALL – will STILL be enjoying our beautiful treasure – White Rock Lake – without you… OR an unwanted, unnecessary Boat House~~~

  • Daniel

    I agree, it is high time we took the idea of killing kittens and geese off the table. But if you think you’ll shame Tim Rogers into an apology, you’ve got another thing coming, Momma Cat. At one time, he even made a morally bankrupt case for cannibalism, proposing that we eat poor people!

  • cbs

    I am all for killing geese or whatever the birds are that camp at the north end this time of year. That’s too much nature smell for me. I mean I have to pick up after my dog, why do the geese to to go everywhere.. Seems discriminatory to me.

  • andrewk

    I’m sorry, but I think the lake can still be enjoyed for nature and for other uses. Putting in a boathouse won’t make the lake ugly. Yes, it’ll change a part of it. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The lake belongs to everyone.

  • Offended “Momma’ Cat”

    …then they can go “change” Bachman Lake… it TOO belongs to everyone, and that area could profoundly use some “so-called” improvement! Oh, not content (no warm fuzzy feeling) with that proposition? Well, neither are a lot of us with the proposition (a.k.a. Castle in the Air) that the DUC is trying to force upon us / the Lake.

    As for bird excrement (problem stated above your commentary)… unless they are all “magically and miraculously somehow domesticated”… the chances of a reduction in their eliminations within and acceptable to your heightened 1 of 5 senses, is simply another “Air Castle”. I suggest researching how to HUMANELY keep them at a distance from your olfactory range. Sincere and heartfelt kudos to you for being a responsible dog / pet owner… needs to be FAR MORE like you out there!

    On aqusition of an apology or shaming of the author (comment above foul fowl poop), NONE is expected… I don’t doubt for one minute that your statement regarding his prior outrageous professings isn’t a complete truism… for it mirrors and expounds in his insidious analogy of “killing kittens”… I wouldn’t expect anything less from one who flippantly used such a shocking subject in their journalistic rantings”Title”. However, rather than uttering a less than half-hearted “I’m sorry”, a proverbial “stoning” from the many staunch Animal Advocacy groups in the DFW Metroplex should suffice!

  • Justin Long

    Your argument provides no facts beyond the statements that you have lived in the neighborhood and you’re offended by the idea of the Dallas United Crew boathouse. It might help to persuade others if you provided some more facts and examples to substantiate your position.

  • jrd
  • Offended “Momma’ Cat”

    http://protecthomevalues.com/

    There is a Save White Rock Park letter writing party tomorrow (Saturday, November 10) from 8:00am to11:00am at the Green Spot, corner of Buckner and Northcliff.

  • Justin Long

    The only place on that website where I saw some concrete facts stated was in the form letter proffered for residents to send in to Councilman Kadane. So, let’s take a look at what is actually stated in that letter.

    First, the letter presupposes the notion that the DUC club should not be at the lake (the website also attempts to denigrate the club through allusions to elitism by noting the former name of the club as Highland Park Crew). On it’s face, I reject this notion that the club doesn’t belong at the proposed facility or at the lake itself. The club — as should all citizens — should be treated equally and fairly and be given fair an equal access to city services and facilities. So long as the club follows all the rules and fulfills all the requirements of constructing or having a facility at the lake, “I don’t like them” or “they block my view” is not a valid reason to reject their application.

    Second, the fact that there may be alternative facilities available (which is, by no means, a settled fact) is irrelevant. Again, this comes down to the issue of equal protection. Is the city treating everyone equally and providing them equal access to its services and facilities. To deny equal access and treatment requires the most stringent standard of review and requires a compelling governmental interest. I hardly believe that the obstruction of one’s view (which, again, there is no proof that obstruction will occur) is a valid reason to deny a person or a group’s fundamental right to equal protection and access.

    Finally, one of the weaker points of the argument (such as it is) in the form letter is the reference to people with disabilities. It is not clear to me how construction of a DUC facility at the lake will impair or harm access to the lake or the facility itself by people with disabilities. The letter doesn’t provide any argument along these lines other than the statement that the letter signatory would rather that the DUC use another facility on the lake.

    Essentially, the form letter uses a bunch of words to dress up the argument that the signatory (I don’t say author because, obviously, someone else wrote the letter) doesn’t like the DUC and doesn’t like their proposal. Once again, not liking someone is not a valid argument to prevent them from having equal access and protection to and by the government.

    I find your argument to be illogical and unconvincing.