By Ruth Ferguson, NDG Editor
Eric Williams, a former Dallas City Council candidate, is on a mission to get rid of an eyesore in southern Dallas and bring in a quality hotel. The kind of place, you want to invite your family and friends to stay at when they visit the Oak Cliff neighborhood.
After spending a lifetime traveling the world to fight for justice in communities in far away places like Africa, upon returning home to Dallas in 2005 he felt charged to do the same for his childhood neighborhood.
“It didn’t feel right to have a successful career away from Dallas and not help my community,” Williams told the North Dallas Gazette by phone after speaking at the Aug. 9 Dallas City Council meeting. His primary focus right now is getting rid of the Grand Inn Motel located at 220 W. Camp Wisdom Road. In a statement sent announcing a protest this Saturday, Williams stated, “Time is up for hot sheet motels in my neighborhood.”
“The motel spurred my interest in politics,” Williams said about his 2017 campaign to represent District 8 on the Dallas City Council.
Arthur Fleming, the recent past president of the NAACP Dallas Chapter, and the co-chair of the state community liaison committee also attended the Dallas City Council meeting on Aug. 9.
“This is a long-standing issue in the Southern sector, we do not have a decent hotel, Fleming pointed out by phone Wednesday afternoon. Last year he led an effort to prevent the charter school, Uplift Pinnacle Preparatory from being built across the street.
“They went ahead and built it anyway. Now, we have the hotel sitting there,” Fleming points out the criminal activity should not be anywhere near where school children after to pass daily.
While the property owners indicate they have fixed it up, that is not good enough. Williams believes it is just a band-aid on a crime and bug infested problem. He said he received a two-page list of criminal activity at the property. A murder suspect hid there last fall before being arrested, drugs and prostitution are items on the report, which Williams had to file a Freedom of Information request to receive.
“If it was a person, it would be a penitentiary,” Fleming said.
“I was not expecting a reaction,” Williams said regarding his remarks at the City Council, “but I got a lot of reaction.” He is now scheduled to meet with T.C. Broadnax, the Dallas City Manager and other officials late Friday afternoon.
The planned protest is planned for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12 in hopes of gaining more signatures on the petition calling for the motel to be shut down under eminent domain because of the level of criminal activity. He will also share copies of the failed health inspections showing the property is infested with rodents, bed bugs and roaches.
“I remember when it was a decent hotel, Fleming said. “The community deserves better, something first class, something we can actually tell someone to check in to,” he added.
Editor’s Note: A previous version incorrectly referred to the community as South Dallas instead of Oak Cliff or Southern Dallas.