Not In My Backyard

Proposed bistro at White Rock Lake's Boy Scout Hill draws NIMBY blood

Proposed bistro at White Rock Lake's Boy Scout Hill draws NIMBY blood

View of White Rock Lake from Boy Scout Hill
Neighbors want to keep White Rock Lake's Boy Scout Hill restaurant-free. pmsummer/Panoramio

UPDATE: On April 24, Richard Kopf and Lyle Burgin announced that the restaurant idea is being postponed: "We both firmly believe that the concept would be an excellent amenity for all of the citizens of Dallas, but the present time is not the right time. We thank all of the individuals and groups that have voiced their support. And we will see you at the lake!"

An April 22 neighborhood meeting to discuss a restaurant proposal for White Rock Lake drew a standing-room-only crowd of residents. Nearly all were opposed to the idea.

More than 500 people crowded the sanctuary of the Lake Highlands Baptist Church for the Old Lake Highlands Homeowners Association meeting. Attendees spilled out into the hall and filled an adjacent room, where they listened to a proposal for a restaurant planned for Boy Scout Hill, at the northeast corner of White Rock Lake.

 "I will not approve this restaurant if it comes to a vote," said councilmember Sheffie Kadane. His comment was met with a standing ovation. 

Attorney Richard Kopf and developer Lyle Burgin presented their vision for the restaurant, which they say would offer more opportunities for locals and visitors to enjoy the lake. The proposed restaurant would have a "lodge-like" feel, said Kopf, and it would be "a place where all citizens of Dallas can go and get a meal, have a drink, see the sunset and look over the view of downtown."

The 2.5 acres targeted for development are owned by the City of Dallas. The site was selected because of easy access from two major streets: Mockingbird Lane and Buckner Boulevard.

During their presentation, Kopf and Burgin pitched the restaurant as a place for parkgoers to enjoy a meal with a view of the lake. They promised it would be pet-friendly, with rooms that could be rented for community meetings and free restrooms accessible to anyone using the park.   

Kopf said that they'd minimize environmental impact. The restaurant will be leased from the City of Dallas, and the restaurant owners would pay rent. The developers said they'd like the money to be handled by a nonprofit such as the White Rock Lake Conservancy or For the Love of the Lake.

The mood in the room was combative, with boos and hissing erupting at times. When Kopf and Burgin finished their presentation, the meeting was opened to questions, and long lines formed at the two microphones set up at the front of the church.

Nearly all of the speakers voiced objections to the proposal, such as added noise and traffic. Several objected to the idea of making people pay to enjoy something they can experience for free.

One speaker accused the developers of making contributions to local politicians, but Kopf said they had not. Someone recited the obligatory Joni Mitchell lyric, "You want to pave paradise and put up a parking lot."

City Council member Sheffie Kadane, who represents District 9 — home to several neighborhoods that adjoin White Rock Lake — spoke near the close of the meeting. "I will not approve this restaurant if it comes to a vote," he said. His comment was met with a standing ovation.

Kopf and Burgin will continue to meet with neighborhood associations and groups. White Rock Lake Task Force president Michael Jung said the group will likely vote on the restaurant bid in May.