Jon Anderson: I Couldn’t Care Less About Reverchon Park

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I have to say that while it’s part of the job, it’s still annoying when some people just don’t get me. Reverchon is simply the latest. So here goes.

I don’t give a fig what happens in Reverchon. I’ve told most people I speak with that I wouldn’t care if there was a second American Airlines Center plopped down in the park (as long as it’s done right with neighborhood support). Reverchon doesn’t personally concern me. I don’t play sports. I don’t have kids. I rarely traverse those intersections except on foot. And my high-rise home faces away from it so I’ll never see it, smell it or hear it.

Except for the greenery – I. Don’t. Care.

What I care about is the process that delivers that eventuality.

Was it sneaky for the Parks Board to entertain a “redevelopment” in December 2016 and then downplay it to a “renovation” 8-months later for the “public” meetings?  Yes.

Was it sneaky to hold those meetings and then never have another public meeting through three years and two RFPs? Even after the stadium ballooned to 3,500 seats?  Yes.

Were those public meetings in 2017 well-promoted to ensure the neighborhood was engaged? No.

Was it high-handed how the December 2019 city council meeting decision was overturned? Yes.

Was it “damn the torpedoes” for city council to approve the measure in January 2020 rather than postpone for one month to actually conduct public meetings? Yes.

Was it bizarre that District 14 council member David Blewett took the lead on a project in Adam Medrano’s district that Medrano ultimately opposed?  Yes.

Was it a lie of omission that the city had monies available to actually “renovate” the ballfield for 13 years – the type of “renovation” their invitation stated – but kept mum about it?  Yes.

Was it odd that only a single bid materialized for each RFP?  Yes.

Was it odd that those lone bidders could put together a plan in under 30-days? Yes.

Was it odd that there was an 1,100-seat increase in the 2019 RFP for seemingly no apparent reason but that fit the only bidder’s needs?  Yes.

Was it odd that Friends of Reverchon Park gave their donations to another organization they shared officers with instead of spending those monies in Reverchon? Yes.

I could go on.

But instead of being curious about these irregularities, various city officials, media and anonymous commenters simply want the stadium built. End. Of.

Those officials claim to have followed process but then say in the future – it’s always in the future – they have to do better.

They hide behind a “think of the children” defense as though this proposal is the only alternative for children to play baseball at Reverchon. But the issue for the neighbors in opposition has never been the children. It’s the five-fold increase in size. It’s the semi-pro teams. It’s the concerts. And all that they bring.

I daresay were these gnashers of teeth living within the blast radius of this project their tune would change quickly. Days ago I attended a council member’s meeting where one East Dallas resident’s be-all, end-all issue was a poor sidewalk near a school. Imagine the head explosion were the answer, “The sidewalk will be fixed by the developer opening a boozy concert venue at the school.” (After all, DISD needs money, too.)

They treat this issue as a zero-sum game. It’s simplistic and patently untrue.

Tim Rogers over at D Magazine ended a February 25 piece intended to discredit my work on Reverchon’s finances, “Think about Reverchon in the context of Fair Park. Repairing the buildings at Fair Park isn’t the point. Or it’s not all the point. The big deal, the real fix that will serve Dallas and its citizens, is finding a smart, creative operator to assume control of an underused asset and run an amenity the way City Hall can’t. The Dallas Zoo = private operator. Fair Park = private operator.

And Reverchon Park? There are those who live in the neighborhood around it who don’t see it as equal.”

What Rogers and so many others miss is that there were untold numbers of meetings on Fair Park conducted around the city – I sat on a panel with Dallas’ then-future mayor. Even the sweetheart deal crafted by ex-mayor Rawlings’ friend Walt Humann had huge public involvement. There was even a city council session on property at the Hall of State. What was the complexion of Reverchon’s neighborhood involvement? Virtually nil. 

And of course, the fact that the Dallas Zoo, Fair Park, and even the Arboretum were specifically designed as large public venues escapes comment. The Reverchon Park baseball field?  A capacity of 700 attendees in a city with a 1920 population of 158,976 (and how many handfuls of cars?).

Given all the high-rises going up, today there might be 158,976 people in Oak Lawn and Uptown alone. Transportation-wise, both the Zoo and Fair Park sit on highways. Reverchon’s ballfield sits at the end of a two-lane road with little parking and is approximately a half-mile (and six traffic lights) from I-35E.  

Again, I personally don’t care about the ultimate outcome of Reverchon. But I do care that numerically and procedurally things don’t add up – and I always will.

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Mike B says

    As is customary, Jon has nailed it once again. Everything involving this Reverchon sham is about process and dishonesty by elected officials. And who knows what is behind the curtain: Kickbacks? Campaign contributions by the developers and their families? And on and on! I say kudos to Jon and many thanks to him and to CandysDirt for keeping this in the public eye.

  2. Olive Talley says

    You are doing an EXCELLENT job of reporting, Jon. You are asking the right questions and digging and looking past the platitudes in search of the answers. This is exactly what needs to be done to officials accountable for their decisions. Keep up the good work!

  3. CC says

    Thanks for going after this. It doesn’t affect me either, but if they were able to do it at Reverchon, they could do it somewhere that does affect me.

  4. JD says

    Its interesting you bring up Adam Medrano. Don’t all these issues with Reverchon lay at his feet and his Parks Board rep, Jesse Moreno that entertained a “redevelopment” in December 2016?

    Aren’t both of them responsible for those meetings and then never having another public meeting through three years and two RFPs? Even after the stadium ballooned to 3,500 seats?

    Wasn’t their job to allocate monies available to actually “renovate” the ballfield for 13 years? Hint: it was.

    Wasn’t it their JOB to hold those public meetings in 2017 promote them well to ensure the neighborhood was engaged?

    How come he championed the project the whole time, even publicly introducing it into the Dec 2019 voting agenda. Are you implying that he wasn’t aware of all these issues the WHOLE TIME and was only informed on the one day of the Dec. Reverchon vote? He was elected in 2006 and has been in charge of the District with his Park rep. Why would he introduce something he had vast knowledge of if he was ultimately opposed to it? I’m not sure if that falls into the “odd” or “high handed” category.

    The essential “delay” month between Dec and the Jan vote only produced more and more support, by the head of DISD, coaches, parents, baseball league players and organizers, rugby players and organizers, citizens, neighbors, etc, and I, who came to city hall in favor for the Reverchon project . Another month delay would have brought more. But its no wonder the newly elected David Blewett stood up in Jan after watching the cluster f** that has been happening over the past 13 years and particularly this last year.

    Jon, you have a very solid argument that “the process” is bad, flawed, and difficult to understand. It explains WHY there were only 2 responses to the RFP. It definitely needs changing and more transparency.

    But it is wholly more unfair to punish a group that navigated the current process just to arrive at the end by getting slapped in the face and tried to be made an example of by officials, commenters, and activists who were not following the process and have only stood up to make some kind of expedient political name for themselves.

  5. Margaret Manser says

    Keep it coming, Jon. This whole thing is infuriating. As always, “follow the money.” I live ten miles away, have lived in Dallas for 40 years and have never been to the Park. But I can smell a bad deal from Preston Hollow, and I vote.

  6. Gene Morris says

    I had a son that played in the high school bi -district baseball,playoffs at Riverchon
    It means a great memory of 1974. But then Dallas always destroys the past .
    I hope We keep the old park, and refurbish the baseball field!

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