The West Dallas housing crisis is over for the time being, and the future of two major parks in Dallas is on the table. Here's what happened in city news last week:
The City of Dallas issued a memo announcing it has reached an agreement with West Dallas landlord HMK that will allow tenants to stay in their homes until June 3, 2017, or the end of the 2016-17 school year, whichever is later. This includes any individuals who have filed lawsuits against HMK. Tenants must pay their November rent in full by November 11, and then monthly thereafter.
Last month HMK issued more than 300 eviction notices, claiming the city had driven them out of business through fines and lawsuits. Recordings of a meeting between Mayor Mike Rawlings and HMK revealed the mayor pushing the owners to sell their property.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has questioned city officials for months about its handling of projects that receive federal housing funds. According to the Dallas Observer, Dallas city auditor Craig Kinton is accusing City Hall of lying to federal officials about millions in unaccounted federal housing funds.
Kinton audited the city in March and found that the city lacks formal policies and procedures for selecting and monitoring projects that receive federal money. The audit says that documentation for 54 city projects was absent, or in some way unacceptable. Those projects received nearly $30 million in federal funds.
Big park donation
Mayor Mike Rawlings held a press conference on October 31 to announce a $50 million gift from the widow of Dallas businessman Harold Simmons towards the Trinity River Park. He and Deedie Rose, chair of the Trinity Trust, the private organization that's been wrestling for control of the park, were even calling it "the Harold Simmons Park."
Unfortunately, the donation stipulates that the park be managed by a private entity. City council member Philip Kingston says Dallas needs to engage in more discussion about the cost and management first.
Trinity River Park was approved in 1998 as part of a bond referendum, but the project has been waylaid ever since. Estimates for completing the park are $250 million.
If a park is built between the downtown levees it will have to be able to withstand flooding and will have to be approved by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
Fair Park bids
Dallas has now opened the bidding process to anyone who want to reimagine Fair Park. The city was previously favoring Walt Humann as its Fair Park change agent, but was forced to expand the field after new city attorney Larry Casto enforced the city's responsibility to put out an official request for proposal (RFP). Other suitors interested include developer Monte Anderson, who has put together a team that includes Michael Jenkins, former president of Dallas Summer Musicals.
No dog arrest
The Dallas Police Department announced that it has closed the case of Antoinette Brown, the woman who died in early May following an attack by dogs. DNA from dogs in the neighborhood was sent to labs for analysis, but they did not make a match.