On January 8, the Dallas City Council approved the plan to reconstruct and quintuple the size of the Reverchon Park ball field. Eleventh-hour opposition mounted to fight what was clearly a foregone conclusion after the plan failed to pass in December. In addition to the five-fold increase in seating to 3,500 total and the addition of alcohol sales, here are a few things you should know.
No. 1: No Open Records Request Made Until Jan. 22, 2020
Since the January 8 city council meeting, no one in opposition has filed any open records requests with Dallas City Hall seeking to understand how this happened. I filed a request myself on Jan. 22. It is not a difficult process (anyone can do it), taking about 10 minutes. Here’s my request.
“I request any documents, emails, text messages, visitor/lobbyist logs pertaining to the Reverchon Park master plan (including the plan itself), 2017 community meetings pertaining to the Reverchon Ball Field initiated by Parks and Recreation, and both the, 2018 RFP and 2019 RFP to redevelop the Reverchon Park ball field.
This includes communications and documents surrounding the deal, negotiations and meetings between city council members David Blewett, and Adam Medrano and Parks and Recreation chair Calvert Collins-Bratton and the applicant (Reverchon Park Sports and Entertainment LLC.) and its representatives.”
I have no idea how long this request will take or how many documents are involved. But once I have received and studied the documents, I will setup an interview with Parks and Recreation Board chair Calvert Collins-Bratton. She agreed to meet with me in a prior column’s comments (“I am happy to sit down and give you the facts anytime.”)
No. 2: Two Community Meetings in Three Years
Both the 2018 and 2019 RFPs stated that the project site plan “shall consider as much community input as feasible”. Apparently a pair of nebulously-worded community meetings in 2017, held before the RFP was issued were all that were “feasible” as the project grew from refurbishment to a 3,500 seat venue.
Collins-Bratton has said that all meetings were open, but I ask, who attends random city meetings without a specific purpose? Equally, who checks the agendas of the city’s various boards and commissions to see if anything piques interest? And finally, the Dallas Morning News is no longer read by every household, nor is the Observer, D Magazine or even (gasp) CandysDirt.com. In regular zoning cases, city hall sends mail to every property owner within a certain radius to alert them. Why not for a case with such large ramifications for the neighborhood?
No. 3: “Changes of Use” are Everywhere
According to Carol Bell Walton, a leader in White Rock Lake issues, the plan includes a bevy of use changes as outlined by state park statutes. Going from unlit to lighted is one change. Night games is another. Alcohol is another. Changes in event types is another. The list goes on. And yet, there was no change of use procedure followed.
No. 4: No Traffic or Environmental Impact Studies
At the December council meeting, Omar Narvaez (D-6) asked representatives from Reverchon Park Sports and Entertainment LLC where were the traffic and environmental impact studies requested during the prior council briefing. The response equated to not enough time. However, a month later there were still no studies. In both the RFP and January council meeting it was said these will come after approval – which can only be seen as backwards. Especially in a space with one lane in and one lane out and severely limited parking. And yes, Uber and Lyft might reduce parking needs, but it won’t cut traffic.
No. 5: This Isn’t a Zero-Sum Game
Many people in support or opposition seem to believe that this is all-or-nothing. It’s not. Supporters will trot out the “think of the children” defense as though this is the only way to repair the ball field. It’s not. Equally, no one on the opposition is against kids playing baseball in Reverchon. For those opposed, I don’t think anyone doubts there will be events along with sports at Reverchon. I don’t hear them saying they will only support repainting the seats in the existing sleepy ball field.
The neighborhood is likely whistling into the wind being as they got riled up pretty late in the game. How they undo this or even get a seat at the table going forward is a mystery to me.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.