Lake Highlands North Recreation Center seems to be having a problem with donuts, among other things. But they’re not the kind of donuts you may be picturing.
The center’s parking lot, located across from Lake Highlands High School, has become a hang-out haven for neighborhood teens. Sunny school days often find teens plowing into the center’s parking lot after school to mingle, says Cindy York, community program manager for the center, 9940 White Rock Trail.
The teens stand around the modest-sized parking lot and watch as show-offs do donuts in their cars (spinning the cars around and around) as they smoke and drink, York says.
And to top it off, they leave trash scattered throughout the parking lot, she says.
York remembers a particular afternoon last fall when she walked out to the parking lot and couldn’t move her car because the drive was clogged with cars and teenagers, she says.
The teens had circled their cars around a fight, York says. She called police, and the kids “scattered like flies,” York says.
“I don’t mind the kids being here if they’re not destructive,” York says. “If they want to come and participate – we’d love for them to.”
The loitering also occurs Friday and Saturday nights, and it ruined the center’s after-game activities for teens during football season, says Charlie Bussey, who has worked as the center’s program supervisor for the past 20 years.
When parents arrived at the center around 11 p.m. to pick up their kids, they were distressed by the herds of kids hanging out in the parking lot, Bussey says.
“Keg parties” on the weekends are yet another problem, York says. Several “keg parties” have been staged recently in the park behind the center – employees know because they’ve found the abandoned beer kegs in the woods, York says.
City Councilman Alan Walne says he wasn’t aware of the extent of the center’s problems but he pledged to work toward a solution.
“We can create a situation where the police will go down there every night, but the kids will just go somewhere else,” Walne says.
There are several neighborhood warehouse areas where teens congregate to drink alcoholic beverages, Walne says.
“Are we trying to create a situation where they’re not drinking at the center, or where they’re not drinking?” Walne says.
Walne says he supports newly introduced state legislation that would take a minor’s driver’s license away if he or she is caught drinking alcohol. Walne has already spoken with Dallas Police Chief Ben Click about actively enforcing the law if passed.
In the meantime, Walne says the Northeast Police Subdivision can expect a call soon about the recreation center’s problem.
“I anticipate that you’ll see some action there shortly,” Walne says.