Resolution sails through city hall
By Sujata Dand
Paula Blackmon used to be a runner, and White Rock Lake was her track.
“I used to do my loops around the lake,” the District 9 councilwoman reveals. Now, she walks. “It’s been my place to take a deep breath and realize why I’m here. It’s my place to get a reality check.”
Blackmon has been on the Dallas city council for four months. In this short amount of time, she has been able to make some headway on one of her top campaign promises: keeping White Rock Lake healthy.
Last week, a resolution to pay for a feasibility study on dredging the lake sailed through the Dallas City Council.
“It’s the first step in addressing an immediate need,” Blackmon explains.
Jennifer Hoesterey agrees. She is the director of the White Rock Lake Conservancy. The nonprofit group, founded 11 years ago, partners with the City of Dallas and its Park and Recreation Department to enhance the identity, beauty and safety of White Rock Lake.
“I think the dredging is important to keep the lake healthy and pristine and usable,” Hoesterey explains.
White Rock Creek feeds into the man-made White Rock Lake. The creek originates in Frisco, flows through Plano, and comes down through North Dallas.
“Every construction site and everything that flows into White Rock Creek comes into White Rock Lake. So, all the silt and trash build up,” Hoesterey says. “In some places [the lake] is only one or two feet deep where it used to be five or six feet deep. It changes the habitat for fish. Some people are saying their sailboats get stuck in the mud. It definitely affects all parts of the lake.”
The feasibility study will cost $99,300, and will be paid for by the lease revenues from White Rock Lake Boat House and the Filter Building. It’s part of a larger contract to service 11 city-owned dams including one at White Rock. The estimated timeline for the study would be between six and nine months. After that, the city will choose between different dredging options. Early cost estimates are between $15-20 million dollars.
“We are going to look for money from federal and state partners,” Blackmon says. “The silt comes from other areas in our region and they should help to get it cleaned up. We are also considering a private 2023 bond. There are lots of pieces to this puzzle.”
In the meantime, Blackmon says she is going to be working hard to get a full list of improvements from the public and stakeholders.
“The city is maturing,” Blackmon says as she describes the park and bike trails that connect different parts of the city.
“What do we want our park to look like? I think we are at a point where the stakeholders are demanding we focus on the lake. White Rock Lake is an asset for our community and the entire city of Dallas.”