The biggest story in Dallas involves the problems the city is having with its 911 call system. There's also changes at Love Field, and an update on the housing situation in West Dallas. Lastly, it was spring break, a good time to celebrate a Dallas park.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
911 on the hook
Dallas' 911 issue blew up this week, transitioning from finger-pointing to outside agencies before turning back to the city's own dated call system.
As far back as February 7, the Dallas Police Dept. began blaming T-Mobile. Two deaths occurred while family members were on hold with 911, so Mayor Mike Rawlings joined the chorus. T-Mobile sent engineers to troubleshoot.
But the city eventually acknowledged that the cause is primarily antiquated technology. In an update from City Council member Scott Griggs, who called it "one more piece of Dallas infrastructure that is crumbling."
Griggs says that Dallas' 911 call system "appears to be a 2003 analog system that was last patched in 2014."
"The 911 call system operates on a First-In-First-Out (FIFO) queue that handles both hang-up calls and live calls with the same priority," he says. "Until yesterday, the 911 call system had three Automated Call Distribution (ACD) cards that could each handle 48 simultaneous outgoing messages. Yesterday, a fourth ACD card was added and an additional license fee was paid to extend the capability to 64 simultaneous outgoing messages per ACD card."
The other part of the problem was a shortage of staff, and so 12 more call takers have been hired.
Love Field pickup update
A new "Express Pick-Up" area has replaced the cell phone lot at Love Field. The cell phone lot, which had its own unofficial Facebook page, used to be located near the car rental agencies, specifically next to Enterprise. But it's being replaced by an area in Parking Garage A, which is right by the terminal building. The new Express Pick-Up will have 60 parking spaces and will allow free parking for up to one hour.
It's part of the ongoing Love Field Modernization Program (LFMP), created to provide a cohesive and modern facility to serve the needs of Dallas travelers. Modernizations already completed include a new 20-gate centralized concourse, remodeled lobby, expanded baggage claim, and new ticketing/check-in hall. Future modernizations include the design and construction of Parking Garage C, slated to open in 2018.
If you want to keep up on the construction at Love Field, there's a cool live-camera site that even lets you do your own time-lapse videos.
Kiest Park was one of five Texas parks honored with designation as a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) in a March ceremony at the association's annual institute in Irving.
A Lone Star Legacy Park is classified as a park that holds special prominence in the local community and the state of Texas. Tandy Hills Natural Area in Fort Worth was also designated, along with three other parks in Austin, Houston, and New Braunfels.
Reverchon Park in Dallas received a designation in 2016. Nominated parks must be a minimum of 50 years old and meet criteria such as distinctive design, unique natural features, and have historical or community significance.
Nestled among scenic Oak Cliff residences, Kiest Park has a recreation center, 16-court tennis center, soccer and baseball fields, and Kiest Softball Complex. It has a 2.8-mile walking and cycling trail, a "Fantasy Landing" playground, and wildflower area.
West Dallas housing
A city organization called the Dallas Housing Finance Corporation Board has allocated $300,000 to assist West and southern Dallas residents facing evictions from HMK properties. A statement from West Dallas City Council member Monica Alonzo says that volunteers from Catholic Charities surveyed residents to assess their needs, and formed a plan for affected tenants to access these funds.
Alonzo's statement says that the money will take care of housing options, employment services, income support and financial coaching, among other services. Catholic Charities will be paid $30,000 to dispense the funds.
Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze asked CEO David Woodyard if Catholic Charities will help find homes or stand by and let the families do that themselves; and if the money will be returned if no homes are found. He did not receive a response.