East Dallas Parking Controversy Pits Neighbor Against Neighbor

Woodrow Wilson High School Parking expansion proposed in Randall Park

The Dallas Park Board Thursday reversed a decision a month ago to allow expansion of a parking lot on city park land for Woodrow Wilson High School.

The Dallas Independent School District offered to pay for expansion of the Randall Park parking lot across from the high school on Glasgow Drive.

Parked cars already line side streets around the school. School expansion construction recently took some of the existing teacher parking lot. Heavy construction trucks now crowd the narrow side streets.

“The parking has just gone from bad to worse,” neighbor Mark Engelberg said.

Neighbors who attended the Dallas Park and Recreation Board a month ago were 100 percent in favor of the plan to add 22 parking spaces in Randall Park and many of those supporters returned Thursday when the issue was reconsidered.

“We want the parking, need the parking and we expect cooperation of the city and the school district,” said neighbor Valerie Carrillo. “It’s a community problem.”

Dallas Independent School District Trustee Dustin Marshall asked the park board to uphold the deal.

"There is already an approved plan to build additional parking at Randall Park. Grass will be paved over one way or another," Marshall said.

But this time about as many neighborhood opponents also attended the park board meeting.

“There are solutions, but not at the expense of any green space at Randall,” said neighbor Rene Schmidt. “We would like to have our park back.”

Several park board Members who supported the parking lot in November changed their position Thursday.

“I remembered why I’m on the park board,” Board Member Becky Rader said. “I’m not here to make parking spaces for the school.”

Board member Jesse Moreno who is a Wilson High School graduate said he initially supported the parking lot in the spirit of dedication to the school.

“And I started to question myself,” Moreno said. “Do I wear my Woodrow hat or do I wear my park board hat?”

Park board chairman Bobby Abtahi was on the losing side of an 11 to 4 vote against the parking lot.

“This issue has pitted neighbors against neighbors,” he said.

Neighbor Mark Engelberg said he was pleased that the park was protected Thursday.

“The more they take the less there is,” he said.

But he thinks another option could be remote parking.

“Around the corner there’s an empty parking lot and they should shuttle people, teachers and students,” Engelberg said.

The park board tried to strike a compromise, dedicating the existing parking lot for school use during school hours but an Assistant City Attorney said the measure was out of order since it had not been posted on the agenda. The school already uses that lot during school hours.

“Obviously, teachers need a place to park and they need a place to park close,” Abtahi said.

The Dallas City Council will have the final say on the Randall Park parking lot expansion issue at Wednesday’s meeting.

Councilman Philip Kingston who represents the neighborhood is strongly against the parking lot expansion. Thursday, Kingston said some city council members support helping the school district with parking.

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