The Dallas City Council met for the last time before summer break, moving forward on several measures to add recreation and safety across the city. Security in Deep Ellum is getting beefed up, and Oak Lawn is getting painted in rainbows. Plus a downtown building is set to be imploded.
This is what's happening in Dallas this week.
Colorful new council
The most diverse city council met for its first full meeting on June 26. For the first time in a decade, a majority of the council is represented by minority groups.
There are a record five Latino council members serving two-year terms: returning council reps Adam Medrano and Omar Narvaez, joined by newcomers Adam Bazaldua, Jaime Resendez, and Paula Blackmon, whose mother is Hispanic.
Adam Bazaldua is the youngest council member ever elected, representing Fair Park and South Dallas neighborhoods in District 7. He is also the first Latino to represent the district.
Dallas also has the most openly-gay council members ever elected, with Medrano, Narvaez, and new member Chad West sworn into office. Narvaez and West were introduced with their partners on stage at the inauguration earlier this month.
Deep Ellum safety
Dallas Police is stepping up its presence in Deep Ellum, following a murder and alleged kidnapping in parking lots on Main and Elm streets. Police are trying a series of security measures on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning June 28.
DPD will increase patrol to 30 uniformed officers on foot, bike, car, and horseback, and they will roll through Deep Ellum with a police van or paddy wagon. The Deep Ellum Foundation is increasing its safety squad to 14 off-duty officers in the neighborhood and expanding the hours of patrol much later into the night.
The city is dropping the rideshare geofencing at 3 am so patrons aren't required to walk to designated pickup zones scattered around Deep Ellum in order to get a safe ride home. Additional lighting is also being added.
Cedar Springs Avenue in Oak Lawn is getting rainbow crosswalks painted in prominent LGBT neighborhoods, similar to what's been done in Houston, Austin, and Galveston.
The sidewalks are part of a street construction project the Dallas City Council approved on June 26. That includes expanded sidewalks that bump out to the street at crosswalks; parallel parking replacing the existing pull-in parking; new street surfaces; wider sidewalks with decorative paving; and barrier-free ramps at all crosswalks.
New signature gateways lit up in the colors of the rainbow will welcome everyone to the "gayborhood" at both ends of Cedar Springs. There will also be a new pocket park built on the residential end near Douglas Avenue.
Construction will cost $1.5 million mostly funded from 2017 bond money and will stretch from Oak Lawn to Douglas avenues on Cedar Springs. The GLBT Chamber of Commerce Foundation is responsible for raising $128,000 to foot the bill for the multi-colored crosswalks.
Construction begins in September and is expected to take six months. No word where the annual Cedar Springs Halloween block party, one of the largest events in Dallas, will take place.
On June 26, the council voted to expand to the Katy Trail and the Trinity Strand Trail. The Katy Trail walking path alongside the bike trail is being extended from Blackburn Street north to Armstrong Avenue. The walking path will be a soft-top asphalt surface and will increase the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on the popular, sometimes crowded trail. The city is matching $1 million raised by the Friends of the Katy Trail to fund improvements.
The council also increased its funding to the state for a major expansion of the Trinity Strand Trail, which runs along the original Trinity River channel. The second phase extends the trail northward connecting to the Katy Trail in Victory Park. The trail will connect to Medical District, Market Center, and Inwood DART stations once complete. The Trinity Strand Trail is one of Dallas' few trails that do not run along an old railroad right-of-way.
A building implosion is planned for Saturday June 29 at approximately 7:30 am, in downtown Dallas. The building being decimated is a mid-rise tower known as 505 Ervay, also known as the Reserve Loan Life Building. Originally an office building, it
's now was once part of the First Baptist Church of Dallas campus, and is located between Energy Square and the First Baptist parking garage.
The safety zone for the event will be bounded by Pacific Avenue, North Field Street, San Jacinto Street, and North St. Paul Street. Street closures will be in effect from 6-10 am.
Residents and drivers are asked to avoid the zone. For those living within the boundary, the implosion is expected to be about as loud as an outdoor warning siren. An unavoidable dust cloud will be created that will dissipate in about five minutes, depending on wind conditions. Those living in or near the safety zone are encouraged to close windows and doors.
DART trains traveling near the safety zone will be held for 10 minutes prior to and after the implosion.