Continuing its initiative to bring government to the people, the Dallas City Council held its May 8 meeting in at the Kleberg-Rylie Recreation Center in Pleasant Grove, where it approved a new homeless service center, doled out pay raises, and made changing a diaper more convenient.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
Fair Park update
Spectra, the company hired to manage Fair Park, will give an update on its first three months of operating the revered park space.
The company will present a brief to the City Council's Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee on May 13 on matters such as capital improvements, event bookings, and long-term tenant contracts.
Spectra has assessed 17 of 24 buildings on the 277-acre park that are listed as National Historic Landmarks. This will create a baseline for improvements. It will not include the Music Hall, Hall of State, or the Coliseum, since bonds have already been established to repair those facilities. Spectra is on the hook for other capital projects.
To support operations, Spectra has hired 35 employees, including a management team and event planners, with plans to hire 18 more people for maintenance jobs.
Two top officials at Dallas City Hall are getting raises following annual performance evaluations.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax received a raise of $11,850 to his salary bumping his annual pay to $406,850. He was hired in December 2016 with a $375,000 salary and received an automatic raise of $20,000 in February 2018.
City Secretary Billierae Johnson received a $7,500 annual pay increase, bringing her salary to $157,500. She was promoted to city secretary in April 2018.
The Dallas City Council approved a zoning change to allow the Salvation Army to build a new facility for the homeless. The facility will be built on a 20-acre site off Stemmons Freeway near Regal Row, donated to the Salvation Army, with 150 beds for emergency shelter, plus a substance-abuse-treatment program, transitional housing, and permanent housing.
The council also created a neighborhood "empowerment zone" in the area around the proposed campus, with tax incentives to keep businesses from fleeing and stimulate business and commercial activity.
The area, which is mostly commercial and industrial, already has a 26 percent vacancy rate, and neighboring businesses expressed concerns about crime and declining property values. One company ready to sign a million-dollar lease went to a suburban office tower instead, according to Councilman Omar Narvaez, who represents the district.
Incentives include property tax abatements of 90 percent for 10 years, 50 percent for five years on business personal property, and certain grants and loans. Eligible businesses must create at least 10 new jobs and provide $250,000 in private investment. Employers that hire from workforce development programs, including the Salvation Army's, will get additional incentives.
If you have ever needed to change a diaper, but there wasn’t a private place to do so, Dallas City Council has your back.
The council approved changes to the Health and Sanitation code to require diaper changing stations in public bathrooms for any new construction or substantial renovation. The requirement applies to city-owned buildings, restaurants, retail shops, and theaters or face a fine up to $500.