Park Department shares plans for trail improvements including a park and some lighting implementation

WRL improvementmap White Rock Lake’s top 10 priorities
In 2010, Advocate published this graphic of proposed trail improvements. The plan doesn't appear to have changed much since then.

Dallas Parks and Recreation Wednesday hosted a meeting to discuss plans for White Rock Lake, specifically regarding improvements along the trail from Mockingbird to the Bath House on the northeast side of the water, as well as the White Rock Lake Dog Park, which Joanna Raines reports on here.

The city announced plans to begin rebuilding the existing trail northeast of the lake rather than building a new trail along the shoreline (as the city did along the west side of the lake). A 2006 bond program, allocated $1.8 million for phase one of the trail and parking reconstruction, for the area from Mockingbird Point to the Bath House Cultural Center, so this is the most imminent of intentions discussed at tonight’s meeting.

And though these trail improvements are on the brink of happening, a few people are calling for the city to rethink the plan.

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Several of the meeting attendees argued that revamping the existing trail is a waste and that pedestrians and cyclists will not use it. Comments (paraphrased) included:

You will never get people off that road.

They want to run by the water.

Those runners with their iPods/ladies pushing strollers will continue to clog the road.

Between the runners and the cyclists, I only have a few inches to drive my car down that road.

The cyclists will never use the trail, but at least they are in the flow of traffic.

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Women running will not use that trail because it is scary up there.

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This is a bad design.

We should look at the plan again and consider building a new trail by the shoreline.

But Gerry Worrall and the Parks people reminded everyone that this plan has been approved already.

For the record, I run the lake and I would be delighted to get away from the crowd and run along a tree-lined trail. In fact, I’m one of the few who uses the old dilapidated existing trail even now and I hope they get this thing paved and widened sans delay. I know — I am probably going to be accosted by the Goatman of White Rock Lake up there.

A park is planned behind Big Thicket.

Also presented at the meeting was a proposal for the construction of a new playground on the large swath of green field behind Big Thicket. A representative from Jacobs Engineering presented a preliminary design for a plan that would involve tearing down the old slide and swings and installing new equipment.

A couple of people, respectively, argued that:

Playground equipment these days just doesn’t make sense. Can we do a kid/parent focus group so that we might build a playground that makes sense and doesn’t have uneven monkey bars just because they look cool? The city needs to stop putting form before function when it comes to playgrounds.

 Kids and large families who gather for weekend picnics want green space more than they want playground equipment.

A group rallied after the meeting to save the old playground slide! (Nah. Just kidding. That didn’t happen. Yet.)

LED or metal halide?

Then, the reps from Jacobs Engineering and the park department discussed plans to light parts of White Rock Lake. The lighting master plan was approved a couple years ago and now it’s essentially a matter of deciding between LED and metal halide lights, and coming up with the funding for the completion of the lighting plan.

Refresher: The lighting plan goal is to provide very minimal lighting and it calls for extra lighting in certain areas, such as the Bath House during events only and for the trail to be lit only in designated spots — near curves, intersections, parking lots, piers and areas with highest potential for high traffic and collisions. In 2009, we were told the parks board and police will continue to assess the situation at the lake and, with continued input from the White Rock Task Force and neighborhood groups, make updates and amendments to the plan as needed.

In the upcoming months, The White Rock Lake Task Force, comprising some 30 members representing various neighborhood organizations and chaired by Worrall, will look at various lighting-fixture options.

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