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View of the portable from Rickover Drive.

In June, a new portable was installed on the W.T. White High School campus between the baseball field and the track.

The City Plan Commission approved it Aug. 8.

If you’re thinking that timeline seems odd, we’re with you.

“The city gave building permits, and the building went up before the planning commission approved zoning — this is a concern to me, and I don’t want it happening again,” says District 13 Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates.

Mary Fent, a 35-year neighborhood resident, is one of several neighbors opposed to the new 3,072-square-foot portable. She filed an appeal to remove it but was denied during a hearing at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

“The city gave building permits, and the building went up before the planning commission approved zoning — this is a concern to me, and I don’t want it happening again.”

“Bringing in a 3,072-square-foot portable to the middle of this field does alter the relationship of the building to the adjacent properties,” Fent says. “Instead of green space, now we have a building in the middle of the field.”

But the portable does serve an important purpose for much of the W.T. White community, which surrounding neighbors (even those opposed) do support. The building provides more space for the Marine Corps Junior R.O.T.C. program, which recently received a $25,000 grant that was contingent upon installing another quad-sized portable.

So, this is less about whether the kids should have their portable or what impact that has on the W.T. White neighborhood — the campus already has 25 portables, and they’ve been going up since 1973.

The city broke its policy, for reasons unclear, and neighbors are left fighting a losing battle.

“It’s not fair to the residents to appeal something that is already sitting there,” Gates says. “And it looks like it will incur double the cost to Dallas ISD [to remove it] … it shouldn’t have happened if the city had handled it properly.”

“Ideally, we would wait for the best outcome, but the kids are there and need the space right now, so we have to act now.”

Two petitions were made in the past week by residents near W.T. White — one opposed to the new portable and one in favor of it remaining where it is. W.T. White alumni parent and volunteer Louisa Meyer says that she just wants the best solution for the students.

“Ideally, we would wait for the best outcome, but the kids are there and need the space right now, so we have to act now,” she says.

Karl Crawley, a representative for Dallas ISD, said Wednesday that, with Gates’ help, an amendment to the City Plan Commission’s original proposal was developed, requiring DISD to plant trees between the new portable and the street. The amendment will be reviewed by the CPC again before approval at a date not yet set.

“Beyond this minor amendment, this issue has really opened communication and brought up to the surface some other considerations that this school and this neighborhood need to work on,” Gates said. “I also ask that the Dallas ISD and this neighborhood use this opportunity to recognize that we have some communication concerns.”

Emily Toman contributed to this report


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