City sued over Kessler Steps; renovation to cost up to $180K

Kessler Park steps: Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Kessler Park steps: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Two homeowners with property adjacent to the Kessler steps filed a lawsuit against the city of Dallas last week, claiming the steps are not a public right of way and that the city does not have the right to restore and open them.

The suit does not seek monetary damages but asks for a judgement in favor of its claim that the city has no right to the property. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Michael and Sherry Andrus of Canterbury Court and Eugene and Rhonda Heatly of Kessler Parkway, says the strip of land that includes the steps is overgrown with bamboo and other plants. “Any removal of the vegetation would cause severe flooding and erosion,” the lawsuit states. Also included as an “involuntary plaintiff” is adjacent property owner Karen Aberle of Canterbury Court.

The lawsuit also claims that the land has always been private property.

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However, assuming … that the Strip was at some point a dedicated public right of way easement, any such use has been abandoned because any such use has become impossible, or so highly improbable as to be practically impossible, and the object of the use for which the Strip has arguably been dedicated has wholly failed because the Strip is completely impassable, non-traversable, sits upon an escarpment, and must remain in its current overgrown state in order to prevent severe flooding and erosion. There has been absolutely no use or maintenance of the Strip as a publicly dedicated right of way, whether as an alley or a street or otherwise, showing a clear intent on the part of the City of Dallas to abandon the Strip. In fact, the City of Dallas has closed the Strip, and it remains closed, and the City of Dallas has barricaded the Strip and posted the Strip warning of hazardous conditions, showing a clear intent on the part of the City of Dallas to abandon the Strip.

City officials previously determined that the steps, at least in part, are in a public right of way. An engineering report requested by City Councilman Scott Griggs found that restoring the steps, built as an original part of Kessler Park, could cost as much as $180,000.

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  • Smokey

    If those involved in filing this law suit are claiming ownership then this becomes a question of adverse possession. So we now have 3 plaintiffs jointly claiming rights superior to it’s open and notorious owner, presumably the public trust that they are members of. Thanks goes to the writer that gave us the info on the plaintiffs involved but I ask one more favor. Who is the lawyer that filed this case, so that we may complete this chain of fools for the record.

  • Lolotehe

    I grew up on Kessler Pkwy and my younger sister used to use those steps to get her piano lessons. That wasn’t that long ago….

    GUESS THAT MAKES IT EASY TO FIGURE OUT WHO I AM

  • MRR

    Why don’t the property owners produce the survey from when they purchased their properties – my guess is that the Kessler Steps are indicated on the survey as an easement in favor of the City of Dallas ….

  • Smokey

    In the Oak Cliff I knew… before the arrival of the Good Ship Pretentious, you would more likely find one mowing a neighbors yard or tending a common area such as this. Now we have a pack of latte slurping, self appraised busy bodies calling code enforcement and filing lawsuits. Poor babies, I would load up the Land Rover and move to Beverly…. Drive that is. Hurry, so you can get there before your latte curdles!

  • I love steps

    I read on the Nextdoor that the plaintiffs are….

    Rhonda Heatly – CFO and Treasurer for the Kessler School. I hope all the parents see this nonsense she is involved in…..AND she is not even an adjacent property owner.

    Sherry Andrus – is the owner of Epiphany in Bishop Arts…go by and share your opinion.

    Karen Aberle – may own the property but she is a Shaman hat lives in NYC. So ridiculous

  • lakewoodhobo

    I don’t get how the barricade shows “clear intent on the part of the City of Dallas to abandon the Strip”. It’s a temporary barricade.