Rachel Stone at the Oak Cliff Advocate has an update on an unexpectedly contentious issue that has formed battle lines among Kessler Park residents: The steps between Canterbury Court and Edgefield Avenue.
The stone walkway, which was installed by the original developers of Kessler Park, North Texas Trust Co., was part of a system of small pocket parks that were meant to attract wealthy families to the neighborhood. However, the steps have fallen into disrepair, and until recently, it wasn’t exactly clear who owned the steps or was responsible for their maintenance.
Here’s a Facebook Post from Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs on the matter:
Thank you to everyone for your patience. Please know that work is underway on the issue of the ownership of the Canterbury-Edgefield steps. I expect the City Attorney’s Office to have the opinion completed soon. I met with the senior City Attorney assigned to the case on Wednesday and requested the opinion by October 24. Hopefully, it will be done. I was hoping to already have an opinion.
As the matter is adversarial, the City Attorney’s Office is understandably proceeding with caution. The issues include ownership, grant of easement, type of grant of easement and by whom/to whom, who built the stairs, who is responsible for maintenance of the stairs, and was the responsibility for the maintenance of the stairs ever transferred. Other issues include how the Kessler Park Conservation District may affect the standard to which the stairs must be maintained.
And foremost, as always, is public safety. A distant second to public safety is money – who pays for what and how – and what to do if there is insufficient funding available.
Charles Hatfield has done a great job finding some old records. Other records are not digitized and being searched by hand. All the documentation the City has is public and, as I have said, I will make available to any outside real-estate attorney who would like to render an opinion. Just message me.
I appreciate everyone’s kind comments. Thanks, in advance.
The first thing that strikes me is Griggs’ description of the discussion regarding the ownership and responsibility of these almost 100-year-old steps as “adversarial.” That issue is teased out a bit more by Stone’s story:
About a year ago, City Councilman Scott Griggs found bond money that could’ve paid to reopen and restore the steps. But some neighbors living closest to the steps, on Canterbury, opposed reopening them. So Griggs instead used the bond funds to extend the Coombs Creek Trail.
Since the steps are on a 30-foot public right of way between homes, a few neighbors took it upon themselves to clear the steps, working with machetes to cut away tall bamboo.
Because there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood, the steps are convenient for pedestrians wishing to walk from Kessler Parkway toward Colorado.
“It can be dangerous to walk on Edgefield,” says Kessler Park resident Don Sanders.
Sanders says neighbors living closest to the steps have shooed people trying to clear the steps and even threatened to call the police, claiming they were trespassing.
Today, though, Griggs has a plan for restoring the steps, which you can see a PDF of below. Still, nothing’s set in stone.