Last chance to grab a tree for free and more news around Dallas
Busy busy week around Dallas with many decisions made and money spent by the Dallas City Council, including an approval of the annual budget and a $4-million incentive to prop up an old music venue. Early voting is coming in anticipation of an election on November 8, and the city is giving away free trees.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
Convention center vote coming up
On August 10 the Dallas City Council approved a special election on November 8 to vote on an expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas and improvements to Fair Park, including the Automobile Building, Centennial Hall, Fair Park Band Shell, Music Hall at Fair Park, Cotton Bowl Stadium, and Fair Park Coliseum. If passed, the hotel occupancy tax rate will be increased by 2 percent.
These improvements and rehabilitation projects will be funded without impacting the City’s general fund or increasing property taxes. The City of Dallas has committed to making good faith efforts to spend 20% of the revenues derived from the new 2% hotel tax increase for the Fair Park facilities venue projects as allowed by state law. Current estimates of $300 million in proceeds represent the largest investment in Fair Park since construction for the Texas Centennial Exhibition in 1936.
At a September 28 meeting, the Dallas City Council approved a budget for 2022-2023 of $4.75 billion. The budget is $400 million higher than last year's.
It'll fund an increase in minimum wage for city employees from $15.50 an hour to $18, plus 250 new police officers and five more animal services officers to respond to calls about loose dogs.
It goes into effect October 1.
Longhorn Ballroom win
Predictably, the Dallas City Council approved to give more than $4 million in incentives to the developers lwho are redoing the Longhorn Ballroom. The venue is owned by Edwin Cabaniss, who also owns Kessler Theater who plans to turn it into a multi-use entertainment center. He owns the full four acres upon which the Longhorn Ballroom sits, and will spin multiple listening spaces out of the building. The main room’s capacity would run from about 1,000 to 2,500 people, while another space, off to the side of the main room, would evoke the cozy confines of the Kessler. Out back, Cabaniss is planning something tentatively called the Longhorn Ballroom Backyard, an outdoor space capable of holding around 5,000 people. Construction is set to begin in October with an opening slated for mid-2026.
Collin County Election officials will hold a public test of voting machines on October 7 at 10 am at the Elections Department, 2020 Redbud Blvd. #102. Known as a logic & accuracy test, the test is designed to ensure that voting systems are calibrated and count correctly for the upcoming mid-term election. Texas law requires public testing of the voting machines be done before and after every election to ensure the machines count votes accurately. The public is also invited to attend and perform a similar test of their own by casting ballots using the voting equipment, and verifying the accuracy of the voting system by comparing a hand count of the ballots cast against the vote totals counted on the voting equipment.
Early voting locations, Election Day vote centers, sample ballots and more can be viewed here. The last day to register to vote in November in Tuesday October 11. Early voting runs Monday, October 24 through Friday November 4. Voting day is Tuesday November 8.
Dallas is reprising Branch Out Dallas, its bi-annual tree giveaway designed to encourage the planting of hardwood trees in the city. This initiative began in March 2019, and has returned every spring and fall on a semi-regular basis to dispense thousands of trees. You need to be a homeowner in the city of Dallas, and must register here with your Dallas Water Utilities account number. There were six kinds of trees, but they’ve already run out of two (the Mexican oak and the redbud which everyone chooses because it has purple flowers). But you can still get these four excellent trees: American elm, Cedar elm, Chinquapin oak, or a statuesque sycamore with large leaves and beautiful white bark. (They have photos here.) The trees will be available for pick up on Saturday, November 5. The original deadline to get one was September 30, but they’ve pushed it back to October 6.
Oak Cliff golf course reopens
Cedar Crest Golf Course, an iconic Oak Cliff course, reopens after months of renovations that include the addition of Legends Plaza, a homage to Walter Hagen, 1927 PGA Champion, and Charles Sifford, 1954 UGA Negro National Open Champion. There are greens, bunkers, updated natural grass driving range, and a banquet area. A.W. Tillinghast designed the historic 18-hole course that was the site of the 1926 Dallas Open and 1927 PGA Championship. In 1954, Cedar Crest hosted the UGA Negro National Open and USGA Public Links Championship.
Texas' toxic waterways
A new report finds that Texas has the highest amount of toxic releases into waterways, and Environment Texas is calling for dramatic pollution reductions to protect rivers and streams. According to a release, industrial facilities dumped 16,778,747 pounds of toxic chemicals into Texas waterways in 2020.
Called "Wasting Our Waterways," the report is from Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. Big polluters include the Austin-Oyster watershed south of Houston, which ranked first in the U.S. for discharges of cancer causing chemicals to waterways; and Pilgrim's Pride Corporation's poultry processing plant in Mount Pleasant, which ranked first in Texas and 10th nationally for total toxic discharges. Dow Chemical Co.'s Freeport Facility south of Houston is also highly toxic.