Big D Mulls Selling Off Waterfront Park

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Hundreds of acres of waterfront park property could be sold to private developers under a plan being considered by the city of Dallas.

Robertson Park is on Lake Ray Hubbard, miles east of Central Dallas. Most park users are not Dallas residents, but Dallas must still pay for park maintenance and police protection.

Development has been booming around the lake, and Dallas leaders have been considering sale of the park site for years.

Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm is proposing a November referendum that would clear the way for sale of the park to a private party.

"Now would not be the time to sell it," she said. "Real estate prices are not very good right now. But we probably ought to do the referendum, which is required to sell park land, so we could be prepared when real estate values come back."

The park is adjacent to Rowlett, which wants to buy it from Dallas.

"It is an opportunity for us to expand our residential community and provide greater economic development, so it seems to be a perfect match," Rowlett Mayor John Harper said. "Let us go to the city of Dallas and say, 'We'll pay to you whatever the market value of this property is. We’d like to acquire it.'"

Ron Natinsky, chairman of the Dallas City Council Economic Development Committee, said he has spoken with Harper several times about Rowlett's offer.

"We haven't shut the doors to it," he said. "We're trying to get a deal done. The thing is, we need a deal that's good for the city and for him."

Harper said Dallas would have trouble developing the site on its own without water and sewer service from Rowlett.

"They have to deal with us," he said.

Harper suggests splitting the land between the two cities, with Dallas keeping the portion south of Interstate 30 and Rowlett expanding its city limits to include the land north of I-30.

Some people at Robertson Park oppose selling the land to any private developer, regardless of which city is in charge.

Jim Rosenberg, who owns Bayview Marina at Robertson Park, said there’s not enough public access to the lake. The park is a valuable public recreation area, he said.

"The park should stay a park," he said.

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