The same day the city kicked my open records request to the State’s Attorney, a lawsuit was filed by Reverchon Park neighbors seeking to invalidate the city’s approval of the five-fold expansion of the ballfield’s activities. Do you believe in coincidences?
Charlotte and Robert Barner live in the Park Towers condominiums bordering Reverchon Park across Fairmount Street. Their suit alleges the city violated Chapter 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code when it approved Jan. 8 the leasing of six acres of Reverchon to a private, for-profit entity for a period of up to 40 years while retaining little control (or recourse) over its operation. (Read full suit here)
The central assertion revolves around proper notification and input from the neighborhood. This is something I first reported. The 2017 meeting held of the then “renovation” of the ballpark had by 2019 morphed into a 3,500-seat stadium and events center – without a single follow-up meeting or neighborhood notification.
But there’s more in the suit that just a few missed meeting opportunities.
No Meetings? No Decision.
Chapter 26 also says that the city council can’t render a decision until those notifications and meetings have been conducted. According to the suit, also required before a city council vote is the determination that: “(i) ‘there is no feasible and prudent alternative’ to the proposed program or project, and (ii) that the program or project ‘includes all reasonable planning to minimize harm to the land, as a park, recreation area, scientific area, wildlife refuge, or historic site, resulting from the use’ of the park land for the proposed project or program.” And further, city council “shall consider clearly enunciated local preferences.”
Both in the Jan. 8 council session and in meetings since, council member David Blewett asserted that council’s approval was only a first step, but the suit contends it’s a done deal:
“The Council voted to approve the Stadium Lease on January 8, 2020, and the resolution approving it directs the Acting City Attorney and the President of the Park Board to sign it. “
The Barners contend that the plan awarded to Reverchon Park Sports and Entertainment LLC, an investor group headed by Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson, would seriously impact their lives living next door. They contend the amped-up lighting common in larger ballfields will be intrusive along with the expected dazzling light shows and perhaps fireworks prevalent in outdoor concert performances will make their like difficult and ultimately diminish the value of their home.
And remember, the proposal calls for, “attendance at the 130 programmed stadium events each year to average over 2,000 ticketed customers per event, roughly 3 times the maximum seating capacity of the stands at the existing ballpark. The crowds will be far bigger, and the cheers, as well as the boos, will be far louder and more frequent.” The decibel levels from the concerts and ubiquitous tailgating will be outlandish.
What About The Wildlife?
The suit brings up a new point on the wildlife of the park, “What are the effects of displacing several acres of natural grass with heat-retaining artificial turf? On wildlife? On drainage? On stormwater runoff? No one knows because the City and RPSE did not ask.” It’s not hard to imagine the various wildlife living in the park will be displaced as trees are cut down, grass replaced with plastic turf and natural floodplains encroached upon. Not to mention the heaps of trash these events will generate that wildlife will invariably eat or be ensnared in.
I’ve mentioned traffic issues before and the fact that the city only cares about a traffic study after the deal is signed. The lawsuit showcases a two-tier system noting that the Prescott project, a few blocks away next to the Mansion, was required to furnish a traffic study before their project was approved by city council and yet, a 3,500-seat stadium has a “catch ya later” requirement on traffic.
One section of the suit says it all:
“If the City or its prospective private partners did any studies of the proposed plans and programs for Reverchon Park, they did not share them with the public: no traffic studies; no parking plans; no drainage studies; no noise studies; no lighting studies or plan; no environmental studies; no studies, period, not even a study of the emergency service access needs—ambulance, fire, and police—for the new 3,500-seat stadium with only one, narrow paved entrance.
“The City apparently did not perform, or require its prospective private development partners to present, the kinds of studies it routinely requires private developers to submit before the City approves projects on private property.”
There’s a press conference at the ballfield Friday at 11 a.m.