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Trees at RV Park May Not Survive: Kessler Resident Enlists Coalition to Save Greenery

Some of the tree's at the Kessler RV Park are tagged, presumably for demolition.
Some of the tree's at the Kessler RV Park are tagged, presumably for demolition. Photo courtesy of Oak Cliff People.

Published August 2, 2013 By SARA BENNETT of People Newspapers

 

The saga of the Dallas West Trailer Park continues as residents haggle back and forth with the landowners and developers planning a new project. But the park isn't just home to people.

Carolyn Dunnigan, a longtime Kessler park resident, is familiar with the large, shady trees that cover the area. With development looming, she fears the trees may be in danger.

Carolyn Dunnigan. Photo courtesy of Oak Cliff People.

"I've always been kind of a tree-hugger," Dunnigan said. "I just got concerned, personally, because [the trees] are just so special."

Dunnigan contacted the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition to see if anything could be done about them. Steve Houser, a founding member and past president of the group, informed her that the coalition hadn't taken an official position on the matter, but had met with residents on the site.

"There's some very magnificent, unique trees typically not found in Dallas," Houser said. "It is a very unique property from that perspective."

Houser said the trees at the park are "easily 60 to 80 years old," and some may even be more than 100 years old. The types include bur oaks, shumard red oaks, pecans, cedar elms, and others. He said the next steop is for a site plan to be filed with the city, which would include a survey of the trees. Until then, their fate is unknown.

Houser has taken a look at the landscaping portion of the property's planned development, but the document does not require the preservation of trees. Instead, it requires the replacement of larger trees (if removed" with "more desirable species," according to Houser. He is also an active member in Vision North Texas, a group committed to environmental health.

As for the park itself, the timeline has been shaken up. Originally, residents were told they must be out by August 31. Word went out on June 11, giving them fewer than 90 days' notice. The residents organized a protest outside a meeting a Hitt Auditorium on June 13.

Following a number of talks, the deadline has been extended to January 31. Those who vacate before October 31 can receive $2,000 cash assistance for the move, or $1,000 if they vacate in November, according to Randall White, spokesman for landowner West Dallas Property Partners.

"The overriding concern shared by tenants was that they needed more time," said White, who is also the chairman of the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

Wood Partners, the interested developer, has already completed the upscale Alta West Davis apartments in Winnetka Heights. There is a contract on the trailer park property, but no sale has been finalized.

For Dunnigan and Houser, though, the trees are of utmost importance.

"Large, healthy trees equal a healthy community," Dunnigan said.

About the author

Ms. Sarah Bennett is a reporter for People Newspapers and contributes to Oak Cliff People bringing you "News from your side of the river."

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