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.

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“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.

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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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