At 8:30 a.m. on a recent Saturday, about 30 Lakewood residents met at White Rock Lake.
Armed with garbage bags, rakes and rubber gloves, they fanned out over a mile stretch of White Rock Lake’s shoreline.
In two hours, they collected about 100 bags of garbage along the shoreline from the paddle-boat dock to West Bay Circle.
“I think it’s important for everyone to do what they can,” says Ellen Tarry, co-chair of the Lakewood Homeowners Association Adopt-A-Shoreline Committee.
“It’s really a beautiful lake.”
The recent successful bond campaign ensures that money will be available to dredge the lake, but no money is available to beautify and renovate the park around the lake.
City officials say they hope funding for beautification will be available in the next bond program – maybe in three to four years.
But some neighborhood residents say that’s too long to wait.
So they’re starting now.
“We don’t want to sit around and wait until the lake is dredged to get everything done,” says Mary Cain, president of the East Dallas Chamber of Commerce. The chamber adopted a mile of the shoreline and is involved in other beautification efforts.
“The park department can’t afford to clean the park up. The citizens will have to fill in where the shortages are. People can make a difference where they want to.”
In the late 1980s, Dallas’ economy was hit hard. The City’s budget was tight, and drastic cuts were made in all departments. White Rock Lake’s maintenance staff dropped from 20 people to seven, says Jackie Kayne, district manager of White Rock Lake for the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.
Litter pick-up couldn’t be done frequently. The hike and bike trail deteriorated. Trees and plants weren’t replaced.
Even though the department has a plan to renovate and beautify the park, there is no money to implement the plan, Kayne says.
So the park department developed several programs to encourage neighborhood residents to help improve the lake and its park, Kayne says.
Adopt a Shoreline began about a year ago. Nine organizations are responsible for a one-mile stretch of the lake’s shoreline. They conduct at least two clean-ups each year and participate in the annual White Rock Lake Trash Bash sponsored by the Park Department, Kayne says.
This year’s Trash Bash is scheduled Sept. 23. Last year, 1,000 people picked up garbage around the lake during the event.
“We have some who scoff at the Trash Bash,” Kayne says. “But nothing will get done if we sit around on our hands.”
Kayne says the Park Department also accepts donations. During the past two years, 235 donated trees have been planted along the lake’s shoreline. Lambert’s Landscaping Company volunteered pruning services, she says. And Mother Nature Garden Center adopted two small plots to landscape and maintain, she says. Members of Save the Rock frequently paint over graffiti at the spillway.
“We’re getting back to our old levels (of maintenance),” Kayne says. “But we’re not there yet.
“It’s small things to big things that will do it. There’s basically no money for beautification. That’s why we have to depend on public/private partnerships.
“I think that impetus will continue. I don’t think it will just stop with the dredging.
“The concern for White Rock Lake has crystalized.”
Getting It Done
Jeannie Terilli’s concern for the lake crystallized three years ago when she formed Friends of White Rock Lake, an organization dedicated to beautifying the lake.
Friends is run by an eight-member board. And during the past three years, the group has accumulated many volunteers, Terilli says. The organization’s recent emphasis has been to get the park around the lake renovated.
The Park Department’s master plan to renovate the park includes guidelines for a new hike and bike trail, re-forestation and park furniture. The estimated cost to implement the plan is $6 million, which the City doesn’t have, Kayne says.
Terilli says she doesn’t want to wait until the City does get the money.
“We believe it’s time to implement this,” Terilli says. “I think the community could and would support beautification.”
Councilman Mary Poss says she has been working with Terilli to find funding. Poss is checking into federal grants, foundations and private donations.
But it’s going to take time before the big bucks start rolling in.
In the meantime, Terilli is working to develop an Adopt-A-Zone program. The park is divided into 31 zones, and organizations would volunteer to renovate a zone to the master plan’s standards, Terilli says.
The Adopt-A-Zone program must be approved by the City before it can be implemented, which could be later this fall, Terilli says.
Each zone costs about $200,000 to renovate. Participating organizations will be responsible for raising the funding, and all work must be approved by the Park Department before implemented, Terilli says.
So far, Friends has adopted two zones, from the park entrance off Garland Road up to Winfrey Point. A landscape architect volunteered to design the zones to comply with the guidelines. The estimated cost is $400,000, Terilli says. Of that cost, $175,000 is to renovate the hike and bike trail.
To help raise money for Friends’ efforts, some businesses have launched fundraisers. Whole Foods Market recently donated five percent of the store’s one-day sales, which raised about $5,000, says Tim Forgerson, a volunteer with Friends.
Dallas Magazine recently donated a percentage of new subscriptions received in one month, which raised another $5,000, Forgerson says. And Starplex donated 100 tickets to the Chicago concert, which were sold for $50 a piece, raising another $5,000 for Friends, Forgerson says.
It may seem impressive, but Forgerson says the $15,000 is only a drop in the bucket for the needed funding.
“We’re going to need some corporate sponsors and foundations because the $5,000 pops won’t cut it,” Forgerson says.
“We’ve got to market it. You’ve got to sell the lake.”
Forgerson is planning a spring music festival to create an awareness about the lake and to help raise money.
“You’ve got to generate some support from the community,” Forgerson says. “People have kind of forgotten about White Rock Lake.”