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.

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.