Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who Is Encroaching on Nature Now?

In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World.
Source: Henry David Thoreau.
"My dream of a greater Spring Creek Nature Area may be over. My dream of a greater Richardson isn't." That's what I wrote back in April, 2011, when I saw bulldozers and construction cranes encroaching on the biggest, best chunk of natural area left in Richardson. Blue Cross plunked down a huge office building to the south. The City of Richardson accommodated it by cutting a wide gash through the forest for the Routh Creek Parkway. That big empty lot north of Renner Rd was rezoned for development (and now, two years later, major development is finally underway). The Spring Creek Nature Area was getting sliced up and hemmed in on all sides. Didn't anyone see what Richardson was losing?

In that blog post from two years ago, I conceded that my dream of preserving wildness was just another quixotic dream of mine. Sigh. But I challenged the city to think long and carefully before they allowed more development of the land surrounding the Spring Creek Nature Area. It has to be done right, I said, in a way that organically transitions between nature and neighborhood, in a way that enhances both park and commerce.

After the jump, so who's encroaching on Spring Creek Nature Area now?

In short, I don't know. But I'm intrigued by this little item in the June 10, 2013, City Council Agenda.
  • Deliberation Regarding Real Property
    • Property Considerations in the Glenville Dr./Plano Rd./Renner Rd. Area

If you look at a map, the area bounded by those three streets is the Spring Creek Nature Area. Something's up. But what? This was discussed in Executive Session, meaning the public isn't privy to who is proposing what for this area.

Forgive me, but I just don't trust this City Council to appreciate the importance of what's at stake here. After all, the council has more real estate and chamber of commerce types on it than Henry David Thoreau types (or, maybe more to the point, Frederick Law Olmsted types). Our council's vision is a little limited, should we say? They're good at envisioning gas stations on hard-to-market triangles of land and self-service warehouses in decaying strip shopping centers. I don't think they are as good at seeing how to develop a new city around 51 acres of hardwood forest and trails without stifling what makes the Spring Creek Nature Area such a valuable gem to Richardson as a whole.


dc-tm said...

Mark, the best way to get what you want is to purchase the land yourself and do what you want with it.
david chenoweth

John Murphy said...

No, David, Mark's owning the land and protecting the environmental asset for now is not the best way for Mark to get what he wants. He may want to protect the nature area but what about his heirs after Mark passes. Private ownership is what we have now and I'm sure the owners have a plan Mark may not totally care for. The only way I know of to preserve Mark's desire to protect the nature area is public supported public ownership deicated (and protected) as park land in perpetuity. Short of that, the citizens of Richardson need to be satisfied with what private ownership brings which is individual control with approved, but limited zoning restrictions. I'm afraid the time for the city to act on Mark's concerns is many years too late because the cost to buy the land now makes the public ownership option a huge financial challange that would require budget sacriface for years to come. Where the political will to make this happen would come from is another matter. It may be too late to create a "vision" for the property on the eve of hearings to determine it's future use.

Mark Steger said...

Now we know who's encroaching on nature: it's the city itself. w00t!