Christmas is over, so I can get back to my normal bah-humbug countenance. I feel more comfortable with a “seriously?” look on my face, anyway.
This morning, while reading Dallas news from the past few days, that look crossed my face more than once. It wasn’t a full on WTF look. More like just a “¿qué.” Because these stories didn’t leave me outraged, just a little confused and sad.
The first was the Dallas Morning News story on the Trinity River Audubon Center and its struggle to attract visitors. I remember when it opened, and a few folks in my office (I worked at D Magazine then) used it to squawk at Trinity River Plan naysayers. See a-holes? This isn’t a boondoggle! Dirt and birds are flying!
And yet …
As the first major component of the $2 billion Trinity River Corridor Project, the center opened in 2008 to warm praise and high hopes. … Since then, yearly attendance has hit about 50,000. By contrast, the Dallas Arboretum … has about 700,000 visitors per year.
The rest of the article spends a lot of time making excuses, everything from “but that’s okay, because our mission is different” to “we need more marketing money” to “West Nile skerred everyone away!”
Do you really think 700,000 people visit the Dallas Arboretum every year because of its mission, or its marketing budget, or its advanced West Nile mosquito surface-to-air defense system? Or is it because it’s on White Rock Lake, easy to find, near real neighborhoods and has grown steadily for almost 30 years? Just askin’.
The second story wasn’t so obviously one of misguided expectations, but a careful read suggests that wouldn’t be a bad takeaway. The current cover story in D Magazine is Peter Simek’s very thorough look at Trinity Groves and the raging development brush fire being sparked there. At least that’s what the headline — “Trinity Groves: The New Dallas Starts Here” — leads you to believe.
But it’s also a more nuanced look at the kabuki dance a city goes through when it’s trying to artificially force organic growth. It’s not easily summarized here, and it’s worth a read, but here’s a taste of what I’m describing:
All of these renderings are still fantasies. When D Magazine went to print in late November, not a single multifamily development deal had been inked.
They’re close, though. Trust them, they’re close. No serious developer yet wants to bet real money on the idea that a lot of middle-class kids want to live there, not yet. But, hey, we’ve got a bridge and some craft beer and angry neighbors who feel their history is being bulldozed and lots of people at City Hall have attended events here and we promised the Fuddruckers guy this would work, dammit. Why does it remind me of a bird sanctuary or a golf course built on a landfill?
In other words, why does everyone here think development spurs density — and not the other way around?
In other words, why does the New Dallas remind me so much of the old one?
Mike Miles is gonna be graded. I guess that’ll solve everything.
Texas gained nearly a million people in the past two years, more than any other state.
I was going to link to a great story about the Omni housing 500 homeless people and D Mag’s most-read stories for the year, but they’re both effing click-whoring slideshows. In 2013, we’ve got to just stop this. They’re evil and they kill babies.
Dick Armey has always been the most appropriately named politician ever.
Fascinating WashPost piece on Dick Armey's coup of Tea Party group, FreedomWorks, & its rapid unravelling. wapo.st/V3cBxU— Jim Roberts (@nytjim) December 26, 2012
Someone’s in the Christmas spirit. Hi-hooooo!
Do not understand complaints about TSA pat downs.No problem for me! @dfwairport— Jane McGarry (@TheJaneMcGarry) December 26, 2012