Arboretum to operate parking at Winfrey Point

The Dallas Arboretum has agreed to direct traffic and orchestrate parking at Winfrey Point, even when arboretum patrons are not parking there, to alleviate parking woes.

Parking at Winfrey Point often becomes choked and chaotic on weekends during little league games and other events, which can be a danger to pedestrians, says Dallas Little League president Lance Spellman.

Lawther is one way to the Winfrey Point building, and if the lot is full, the only way out is via Emerald Isle. If there is nowhere to park along Emerald Isle, it causes a traffic pile-up near Barbec’s at Garland Road. Neighbors who live in Emerald Isle know to avoid that intersection at all costs on weekends, which is a huge inconvenience for them.

“It becomes pretty disastrous because you’ve got kids, angry motorists, and just chaos,” Spellman says.

The Park Department and the arboretum are working on a longer-range plan to direct traffic and parking through the area, which includes allowing two-way traffic on East Lawther.

Anyone who has visited the arboretum on a busy spring day probably has seen the arboretum’s parking operation at work. Attendants communicate with each other and with drivers to park cars on lots throughout the property and into shuttle bus lots. It is quite a production.

“The Park Department asked us to manage parking over there so it’s not haphazard,” says arboretum president Mary Brinegar.

Spellman says a plan for the arboretum to use Winfrey Point grasslands for temporary overflow parking will alleviate traffic and parking woes for little league members. But he says the Dallas Little League’s contract with the city is up in two years, and he fears the arboretum eventually will want to take over Winfrey Point for parking permanently.

The arboretum currently has permission form the Park Department to park 400 cars in the grass at Winfrey Point, mostly along Emerald Isle, when all other parking lots are full. But there is another grassy area, between the Emerald Isle neighborhood and the ball fields that could hold another 1,000 or more cars. The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden opens in about one year, and it is expected to be a big draw. Of the $56 million budget for that garden, $13 million is being budgeted for parking.

“Once the ball starts rolling on this with the destruction of praire land this week, I think it will be harder to stop future actions that we may find directly detrimental to Dallas Little League,” Spellman wrote in an email to little league families. “Personally, I would like to have a much more detailed understanding and discussion of future plans for Winfrey before any significant changes are made in the short run.”

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  • TripleWildcat

     March of Dimes is a one-day deal. Arboretum parking would be permanent, or at least seasonal.

  • Wilson!

    March of Dimes doesn’t want to park on a piece of land that has Texas Land Steward designation.

    But I agree – it is selective outrage, to a degree.  We in NE Dallas are finally feeling what those in other parts of town get all the time – back-room deals to benefit big business at the expense of residents.  We finally got our toes stepped on, and yelled “ouch!”  There have been a couple of other recent similar events, like when they tried to re-zone the Hollywood Rolling Door company’s property out from under them, and the “homeless shelter” that turned out not to be a homeless shelter proposed for the Army Reserve building on NW highway.

  • Jenni Mansfield Peal

    Hello, fellow LHres.  I see what you mean.  However, what’s coming out about DA’s negotiations with DPRD is way bigger than parking on the grass.   I am part of this protest because permanently giving away free public parkland to DA to build parking garages on is unfair to everybody who uses the lake, not just the people who live by it.  DA must find a more equitable way to solve its parking challenge.  The DA is different from March of Dimes, a family picnic, or the Little League in their intentions for the land use.

  • LHresident

    This seems like selective outrage to me.  People park on that grass (and other prairies around the lake, Flagpole Hill, Norbuck) all the time, during big events, various marathons/runs, etc.  Why are we suddenly aghast?  Next time the March of Dimes descend on the area, are we going to all protest them too?

  • Mark Booth

    Dallas City Council. *#@&#! It’s enough to make me want to move to Plano!

  • Ed Gunsalus

    There is a rally to protest the Arboretum’s destruction of the balckland prairie at Winfrey 8 am on May 5,  vist   Folks will walkf from Emerald Isle to thegate of the Arboretum

  • chughesbabb

    Mike it looks like this is somewhat true. The papers acquired by Emerald Isle neighbors show that a study has been conducted. I don’t think anything is inevitable at this point. Look for more on this on the Advocate blog soon. 

  • Mike

    According to a friend who is an Emerald Isle resident, plans are already prepared and fully set up to take over Windfrey Point as a giant paved parking facility (complete with trams) for the Arboretum. According to Rachel’s statements above, the funding is already  in place. Now all that is needed is for our “for the people” city councilman to quickly sneak through and approve the plans before the tax paying citizens can organze any strong opposition. I was told that the plans were discovered and had been viewed by an Emerald Isle resident.  According to the plans, the baseball diamonds will disappear, there will be massive paving, and tram service will be set up to transport from the former prairie over to “Disneyland”.

    It will be sad to see that unique prairie land paved to satisfy the wealthy Park Cities financial interest invested in the Arboretum. It is obvious and shameful that the momentum of the leadership of the Arboretum has changed from conservation and beauty to an amusement park mentality.

  • Jenni

    This Advocate article appears to take Dallas Arboretum’s offer to “manage” parking at face value.  Will that include fees for parking that is now free?  How will DA compensate Dallasites for loss of natural parkland?  Dallas Arboretum constructs imitations of nature and then charges people to view it.  Must they destroy natural parkland and our expense?  Big money doesn’t equal value, resource or cultural gain.  I have no sympathy with Brineger’s parking problems nor interest in high dollar angst.

  • Peggy Hill

    No, I do not LIKE this at all.  These are beautiful, natural grass and wildflower areas and public park areas.  Maybe the Arboretum needs to stop expanding and find a way to limit the number of people who can come at any one time to the amount of parking they have available.