With no court order to protect Winfrey Point, protest planned Saturday




Posted on May 4, 2012 at 7:47 PM

DALLAS - Flowers at the arboretum win out over the grass field at Winfrey Point.

A judge ruled Friday that visitors at the popular tourist destination will be able to park on the grass field - at least for now.

Parking is always a concern at the arboretum - but it's expected to get worse in the coming months. On Saturday, an exhibit featuring Dale Chihuly's world-famous glass sculptures opens.

The grassy areas at Winfrey Point will wave in the wind freely a little longer. But with no court order to stop the city from mowing, or the Arboretum to use the spots for up to 400 overflow parking spaces, nearby residents like Alexandra Elliott know this land could soon be parking lots.

"This is such a rare ecosystem, we really feel like it is going to do irreparable damage to this amazing ecosystem that has 70 different kinds of plants and wildlife," she said.

The city said it won't mow any of the grass this weekend, and the Arboretum disputes the plants are valuable, citing one expert who claims nearly all the grasses in the disputed areas are non-native, invasive species.

"The land is neither rare, pristine or an endangered ecosystem," said Dallas Arboretum President and CEO Mary Brinegar.

The city said there are no plans to move the baseball fields, and agreed in court not to build a permanent parking structure for the time being. There's no long-term plan either.

But Dallas Arboretum Chairman Brian shivers believes such options remain open.

"It's an ongoing discussion," he said. "There needs to be a solution to the parking needs of White Rock Park."

The nearby homeowners will make that their long-term fight and say they'll start Saturday at 8:00 a.m. with a protest at the arboretum.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com