With 2019 wrapping up, a big vote on a city park took place, and another vote on an Oak Cliff grocery got postponed. The mayor decided crime is a big deal, after all, and the Dallas City Council had its last meeting of the year.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
Reverchon Park vote
The Dallas City Council voted against a proposal to hand over a city-owned park to a private entity. A proposal by Don Nelson, general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, would have turned Reverchon Park, located in the Turtle Creek area, into a 3,500-seat stadium which would have hosted sporting events such as soccer and concerts. Those voting against it were concerned about the lack of input from the community, and the lack of studies done on traffic, parking, or environmental impact. Council member Adam Bazaldua made a motion to delay the deal for 60 days to allow for community engagement, but Nelson and company said that they'd walk if there were a delay.
Crime in Dallas
Mayor Eric Johnson has called on Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax to produce a plan to reduce violent crime in Dallas. During the 2019 mayoral election, Johnson didn't view crime as a priority but in his first "State of the City" address, he said that rising violent crime has made the situation urgent. In August, he appointed a task force and now he's putting it in the hands of the city manager and police department. Broadnax issued a polite statement, stating that he shares the community's concern and frustration, and that he'll work on a plan with DPD Chief Renee Hall. According to CBS DFW, the task force is "weeks away" from presenting its own non-police recommendations to prevent violence.
New VisitDallas CEO
VisitDallas has a new boss: Craig Davis, currently President and CEO of VisitPittsburgh, has been appointed the organization's new President and CEO by a special VisitDallas Board of Directors selection committee led by outgoing chair Mark Woelffer and incoming chair Joyce Williams. Davis' first day on the job will be January 6, and he will reside in Dallas. Davis replaces Philip Jones, who was forced to resign in May after some of his spendy habits were revealed.
Royal Blue Grocery in OC
A decision re: Royal Blue Grocery, which is seeking subsidies to help it open a location in Oak Cliff, has been postponed to January. The grocery wants a $350,000 economic development grant and a $350,000 low-interest loan to open a store at 635 W. Davis St., in the space where Bolsa Mercado used to be. City Council member Chad West, who represents District 1 where the store would go, postponed the decision so that Royal Blue Grocery can meet with community members first.
DART student passes
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has renewed its student pass program with Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) for another three years. It gives transportation to more than 100,000 students for $2.7 million in annual revenue. The arrangement began in 2017 as a pilot program to provide DART GoPass to all eligible DCCCD students after transportation was identified as one of the top enrollment barriers; it was set to expire next month. DART has similar partnerships with other colleges in the area, such as SMU, UT Dallas, and El Centro. Since 2017, DCCCD saw a seven percent increase in campus enrollment and a 263 percent increase in DART passes issued, or more than 23,900.
DART Mockingbird Station
The DART board gave the go-ahead to Trammell Crow Company to execute development at SMU/Mockingbird Station. DART selected the developer in January 2018 after reviewing proposals from multiple developers. Trammel Crow's plan is to construct an underground parking garage and residential and commercial towers on surface parking lots at the station.
Dallas Public Library homeless series
Six new episodes of the Dallas Public Library’s Street View podcast about life from the perspective of people experiencing homelessness have been released. The podcasts feature conversations between homeless library customers and Suzanne Glover, Dallas Public Library’s homeless engagement coordinator. The staff hopes to bring greater awareness to the stories of homeless people, and touch on issues of mental health, surviving extreme temperatures, being in a relationship, and other personal experiences.