Monday, September 23, 2013

Off the Leash

It looks like Richardson may finally be getting that dog park that the city council summarily dismissed in the last term.

Some say the council supported a dog park all along. Some say that the council was only prevented from building a dog park because of neighborhood objections and because tea partiers (for lack of a better term) oppose funding it with borrowed money.

What some say is false.

After the jump, speculation on what's behind the turnaround.

Neighborhood objections didn't prevent the council from approving developments with hundreds or thousands of apartments in Brick Row and at PGBT/US75. Neighborhood objections didn't convince the council to fight the NTMWD and its expansion of the Lookout Drive Trash Transfer Station. Tea party objections didn't prevent the city from issuing millions of dollars of certificates of obligation (i.e., borrowed money). No, if the city council had wanted a dog park, the city would have had a dog park. Likewise, if the city is about to get a dog park now, it must mean the city council wants a dog park now. So, what's behind the turnaround?

Darned if I know. But whoever came up with the idea of sticking the dog park under a freeway is a genius (the freeway being PGBT at US75). Freeways are such god awful blights on the urban landscape that no one wants to live near one, so that eliminates the objections of neighbors -- there aren't any neighbors. Well, that's not quite true. There is an apartment complex just south of that freeway, but the city council doesn't consider renters to be "stakeholders" in decision making. That land under the freeway has no other potential use. Well, that's not quite true, either. On the other side of US75, similar land is used for parking for the DART station, but there's no DART station by the proposed dog park or any other need for a large parking lot. No neighbors of the "stakeholder" variety? No higher or better use of the land even in anyone's dreams? Why not let it go to the dogs? (Seriously, if anyone knows who should get credit for this idea, let us know.)

Now all that stands in the way of the dog park is getting TxDOT on board, as the land (under the freeway, remember?) belongs to them. But TxDOT probably wants the money, so some deal ought to be able to be worked out.

The Dallas Morning News' story quotes Mayor Laura Maczka as saying, "It's a very high priority for me." Really? Two years ago, even the preliminary step of "evaluating" a dog park ranked only 21st out of 40 action items in the prior council's term. And if Maczka's personal rankings then had carried any weight with the council, it wouldn't even have made the cut off at 40 action items. Remember, the action item was just to "evaluate" a dog park, meaning things like search for a suitable location, like the genius idea of sticking it under the freeway.

Aside: If the highest and best use of that land under the freeway is a dog park, that says something about freeways in general. But I don't want to get into that again.


DennisTheBald said...

The whole thing is a plot to drive away the homeless that camp in that area.

Mark Steger said...

Perhaps a clue as to why Mayor Maczka told the DMN that a dog park is a high priority for her can be found in her comments at the city council meeting September 30: "It's my personal opinion that, really, the fact that we don't have a dog park is interfering with our ability to do other, what I would consider, high priority parks projects."