A proposed idea to build high school football and soccer stadiums in a public park is causing controversy in East Dallas.
The idea is being proposed by an organization called the Randall Park Improvement Community Group and calls for taking much of the existing green space at Randall Park and turning it into an athletic complex with a turfed football and soccer stadium, along with other proposals.
Renderings of the idea has been circulating online among neighbors in East Dallas.
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Debra Bishop has a daughter at Woodrow Wilson High School, which is across Glasgow Drive from the park, and is one of the parents behind the stadium proposal.
"This is just the beginning," Bishop said. "We kind of got together as a volunteer group and came up with a plan that we all thought would work that would help our city and DISD."
The group is proposing using private donations, along with funds from the city and DISD, to make it a reality. Bishop said she felt the park was underutilized and the changes would be an improvement on facilities for the public to enjoy and for district students.
"I really do believe we're going to be able to come together and we're going to come up with a plan that works for everybody," she said.
She said the group is currently seeking public input and planned to organize community meetings.
"We feel the affect of a stadium in our neighborhood would be devastating," said Barbara Cohen, president of the Friends of Randall Park.
Cohen said she was concerned what little green space was left for the public would be taken away and was concerned over transparency issues with the group proposing the stadiums.
"There really is something for everybody in this park and we just want it to stay that way," Cohen said.
Imelda Martinez lives across the street and walks her grandson to the park every day.
A neighbor for 50 years, she said she worries more athletic facilities, in addition to the current sports fields, which are a partnership between the city of Dallas and DISD, would take away what public land is left.
"I feel like this isn't a community park anymore," Martinez said. "Everything is locked and to use the park you have to rent."
Dallas ISD Trustee Dustin Marshall told NBC 5 he was aware of the chatter surrounding the stadiums and would be working with council members representing the neighborhood, David Blewett, Adam Medrano and Paula Blackmon, to set up a task force to look at the issue and gather community input.
The Dallas Parks & Recreation Board issued the following statement Monday.
“At this time the Dallas Park and Recreation Department and Board do not have a position on any development at Randall Park, recently renamed Willis C. Winters Park.
It is of utmost importance that any proposed plans include significant community input and support. Until then, the Department and Board will not consider any proposals.”