Bar customers try to save tree from being cut down
It’s no secret that parking space is scarce in the Oak Lawn entertainment district, but no one was prepared for the desperate measures a valet parking attendant would take last weekend to squeeze in one more car.
A valet attendant working in the parking lot next to the Nelson Tebedo Health Resource Center on Saturday night nearly cut down a small tree at the edge of the lot before customers at Woody’s, a nightclub across the street, stopped him, according to Bret Camp, clinic director of the center. After the customers and a manager at the night club made the attendant stop sawing, he backed a car into it to fit the car into the illegal parking space, he said.
The attendant, who works for the parking company that has contracted with Havana’s, apparently had more than half finished with the cutting job when he was stopped. The tree’s leaves are now dying.
“The tree at this point is dead and leaning into one of our other trees,” Camp said. “I feel like a member of our community was chopped down.”
The tree sat near the edge of the parking lot in an area cut out of the pavement to accommodate the tree. There are a series of yellow stripes painted on the pavement in front of the tree indicating parking is not allowed there.
Camp said everyone who witnessed the destruction and has since heard about it has expressed astonishment. Center officials have complained to the police department about the incident.
Dallas police officer Laura Martin, who is the police department’s LGBT liaison officer, said she is researching the destruction of the tree and a criminal complaint will be filed if the property management company in control of the parking lot wants to take action. Reports will be taken from eyewitnesses at that time, she said.
“The management company has to be willing to file charges against the person who actually cut down the tree,” Martin said. “Until that happens, we’re at a standstill.”
Martin said the company’s officials plan to ask the nightclub operator to replace the tree and will likely not file a complaint if there is cooperation.
Eddie Ortega, manager of Havana’s, said he is aware of what happened to the tree and has talked to the parking company operator about replacing it.
“Everybody is responsible for what they do,” Ortega said. “Whatever happens they have to pay for it.”
Keith Allen, interactive community police officer for Oak Lawn, said he is as amazed as everyone else by what happened to the tree.
“That almost defies explanation,” Allen said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 11, 2006.