Big rat nest ousts Dallas park staffers from Flag Pole Hill reservation offices

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Dallas Park and Recreation reservation building closed for repairs, or, more specifically, for massive rat termination.

And other changes coming to The Hill …

There are two Dallas Park and Recreation offices located at Flag Pole Hill. One at the base, on Northwest Highway, and one up top, a quaint, homey building surrounded by colorful foliage and made of that classic white stone and, oh yes, infested with rodents.

That was one nugget gleaned from an interview yesterday with City of Dallas project planner II, Peter Bratt, who was answering queries from our editorial team about Dallas trail, bike lane and park updates.

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Sign on door of onetime reservation offices
Sign on door of onetime reservation offices

“Reservations has had to move out of their building at the top of Flag Pole Hill because rats made a giant nest … because of the rats nest that was a threat to public health,” he says, explaining the quick evacuation of both Flag Pole Hill buildings.

“That had to be one big rat’s nest,” our Oak Cliff editor whispered in horror. Yes, Rachel Stone, yes it was, communicated Bratt’s wordless, wide-eyed nod.

No worries, really though. All workers are safe and sound and have temporarily relocated to a Fair Park office. And as soon as next year, they will move into impressive new digs at the five-acre former Muchert U.S. Army Reserve Center located on Northwest Highway near Buckner, which was turned over to the Dallas Park Department in 2009. Those plans are here; construction is slated for September 2016-2017.

The two tiny, now-vacant Flag Pole Hill offices will be renovated and repurposed, “minus the rats,” Bratt says.

They could become something like we have at Winfrey Point, where the house is rented for events, or one might be used as a Civilian Conservation Corps museum (CCC was a public work relief program for young men in the 1930s responsible for Sunset Inn, Winfrey Point, the pavilions at Flag Pole Hill and White Rock Lake entrance signs and bridges, to name a few), Bratt says, or something else. That all depends.

The future of Flag Pole Hill

“Flag Pole was part of White Rock Lake since as I like to call the dinosaur age, 1930s,” Bratt tells us. “Last master plan update was in 1987. In 1991 there was an implementation plan. There was an update to the ’91 plan in 2001 and at that point we carved out the separate parks — Olive Shapiro, Flag Pole — Norbuck has always been somewhat separate. So we haven’t done a master plan for Flag Pole Hill since. We are going to go through bidding process to get the work done on that.”

Lake Highlands resident and Park Board Robb Stewart has been asked by District 10 councilman Adam McGough to guide the latest master plan process for Flag Pole Hill, Bratt says.

That will be of interest beginning in the fall, and, he says, “That’s where you will get people from different groups discussing what to do. Two groups each want to do a playground there — For the Love of the Lake and Junior League, so we will find something that works.”

There is one playground on the land now, the only one ever approved for Flag Pole Hill, in 1998, Robb Stewart has said in a previous interview with Advocate editor Keri Mitchell (when she asked him about rumors circulating on Facebook that a new playground for disabled children had been previously approved but thwarted by Stewart/McGough).

The city is fixing faltering foundation under the Flag Pole Hill Pavilion.
The city is fixing faltering foundation under the Flag Pole Hill Pavilion.

As for the repairs happening at the Flag Pole Hill pavilion, that has to do with fixing the foundation, Bratt says.

More trail updates, citizen-input meetings and Advocate interview notes are forthcoming, so stay tuned.

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And think about what you want in your neighborhood park, because Bratt says neighbor input is very important.

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Bond meetings to determine where city money is used are slated for October (no specific dates yet).

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