By DIANE XAVIER
The Dallas Examiner
Reverchon Park will get an overhaul after all. The Dallas City Council reconsidered a proposal to authorize a 20-year agreement with one 10-year renewal option and two additional five-year renewal options, with Reverchon Park Sports and Entertainment, LLC, for the development, operation, and maintenance of a proposed new athletic field and stadium at the park, located at 3505 Maple Ave.
During its meeting held on Jan. 8, the City Council voted 11-4 in favor of approving the deal that would give RPS&E the power to renovate the 100 year old baseball field. The deal is worth $10 million and is led by Donnie Nelson, general manager of the Dallas Mavericks.
Last month, the same item was up for vote in December but failed in a 7-7 tie after there were concerns about noise, traffic and lack of community input from residents about the new ballpark. The item was reconsidered after Council Member David Blewitt of District 14 requested the proposal to be looked at again and said it would provide revenue for the city that it currently does not receive from the ballpark.
Council members Adam Bazaldua, Adam Medrano, Jaime Resendez and Omar Narvaez voted against the new plan option.
There were about 100 residents of Dallas that spoke in favor and in opposition of the new ballpark. Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa was one of the speakers in favor of the deal.
“The fact is that Reverchon Park has been a tremendous community resource for a lot of people, including 10 years when I was president of the Dallas Amateur Baseball Association, where many professional and college baseball players show their wears to this community,” Hinojosa said. “Also, the Parks and Recreation Department has saved my life and I am indebted to this community so I want to thank you for this initiative.
“Second, the present, North Dallas High School is landlocked and doesn’t even have the ability to practice baseball home field. This is the home field and they won’t have a home field if this field isn’t ready. They have to go to West Dallas, North Dallas, and Oak Cliff to play baseball in front of their parents. North Dallas is one of the best baseball programs in our district. And for the future, when you have organizations that are putting this together, I look to the future with hope and aspiration because they are going to bring resources to make this a quality production.”
Patricia Meadows, who lives next to Reverchon Park, spoke in opposition to the deal.
“We have lots of events there now,” Meadows said. “It is fully utilized now. The proposal is too big for this land mass. They are talking about a 3,500 person stadium. You can’t get 500 in there. You can’t park it. You can’t get in from Maple. I have three concerns. One is the traffic. Has there been a traffic study done about how many of the cars proposed can even get in there. There is only one way in and one way out. We will lose trees doing this and then the noise, the trash, the crowds.”
Council member Narvaez of District 6 gave his thoughts about the deal and voted against it.
“I think that both sides have very good arguments,” he said. “But for me it is always about listening to the community, listening to the general public, and when the general public is saying we just want information, we want to be able to sit down and have a conversation and I think that conversation needs to be led by city staff. That way none of us Council members are allowed to discuss the issue with the applicant. The applicant might not even be there. It might just be you and city staff. You can understand the process, what’s going on, what was happening, the questions you may have so they can be answered. And for that, because there wasn’t enough community engagement I support a 30 day delay on this issue.”
Council member Cara Mendelsohn of District 12 was absent for the December vote but voted in favor of the proposal at the recent City Council meeting.
“We are two billion dollars in debt in this city,” she said. “We need a billion dollars in road repairs. We need a billion dollars in traffic signal work. We need more money for public safety and we need a lot more money for some of our social services. So I am not sure where the money is going to come from to redo this stadium. And even if we had the money, we put it in a bond, then how are we going to operate it? We don’t have the money for that either. We need to have a fiscal reality check because I wasn’t hearing that in the conversation. The ballfield is in terrible shape.
“I’ve been to Reverchon Park and 30 years ago I was at a concert with alcohol in that park. Thousands of people in that park. And that was before Uber and Lyft. So this is not an unheard of conversation. I do not think it is safe. I sat in the bleachers and frankly as a large sized lady I was unsure if it was going to hold me. This deal is going to affect four and a half acres of the 46 acre park and this deal is not going to give away the park. We are leasing it out. What I do like about this park is that we are going to have a rebuilt park with an all ability field and we are going to do it without our tax dollars and we are going to continue to own it. We are going to have more people actually enjoying this park and something to do in Dallas. Lastly, it is actually going to produce some income for us and we are going to have a professional group maintaining it.”
In other news
The City Council authorized an amendment to an existing lease agreement with Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, to extend the lease agreement for an additional five years for approximately 2,500 square feet of office space located at 5351 Samuel Blvd., rooms 170-189, for the continued use as the Dallas Police Department’s Youth and Family Crime Division for the period March 1, 2020 through Feb. 28, 2025 – not to exceed $288,000.
“I just really want to sing the praise of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center,” stated Council member Adam Bazaldua of District 7. “This is an amazing organization that offers a lot of services to a lot of vulnerable children. The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center coordinates all of the investigation in the prosecution and the healing services for most of the severe cases of child abuse in all of Dallas County.”
The item passed unanimously.