By Carolyn Arnold
The Community Meeting at the Golf Club of Dallas was an eye-opener and just might be the catalyst that is needed to jumpstart Community Involvement and Community Growth. The meeting was hosted by Councilmember Casey Thomas, District 3 and was designed to get feedback from the Neighborhoods regarding the sale of the Golf Course and the proposed housing development for 500 homes… The debate as to whether this was another attempt for a “Grow South/Neighborhood Plus Project” or not lingered throughout the evening.
This situation was a reminder of the proposal made by another developer in the mid-2000s who wanted to build affordable homes in the Southern sector near the Glen Oaks community. The assumption was made this community would be an easy target and no one would care. Needless to say, the plan was abandoned because the community turned out in the same manner as the Golf Club residents and neighbors.
In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, delegate to the 1964 DemocraticConvention, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” might have been the theme of the evening. She was tired of pushing for equality and being denied and ignored. The challenges the Southern part of Dallas still face appeared to weigh heavily on the hearts, minds, and souls of those who spoke. Many in attendance have vested history in the community and remembered the days of a “fully serviced neighborhood” with restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and other forms of businesses.
The question was asked as to whether or not the City of Dallas could purchase the Club through the Bond package. The citizens of Dallas are being asked to support a $1.5 billion bond in November, this bond has very little benefit to the Southern Sector. The answer should be clear. citizens should decide whether or not due diligence has been given to make sure all communities are served through this initiative. Voting is the key to addressing the shortfall of any Bond package.
Dallas County Elections shows 1,277,177 registered voters as of September 2017. It is interesting to note, less than four percent of the voters are making decisions which impact our communities on most elections. Yes, there is always a method for including a project of this nature. It is interesting to note, every councilmember has received $10.5 million in discretionary funds for this bond. Can you imagine what could be done with this project if the three or four of the Southern Sector councilmembers utilized a portion of their funds for this project?
The reflection of civil rights issues in Dallas alone, should encourage the grassroots not to give up. The history of the Golf Club, formerly the Oak Cliff Country Club is definitely a starting point. African-Americans began to buy homes, some adjacent to the clubhouse and still could not gain membership. It seems now, we are back to square one. The neighbors will not have a say on the present zoning of R-5 which will allow single-family homes to built on the green space.
The actual building was built with a Special Use Permit and must undergo a zoning change to accommodate the plans of the developer. Thus, the need to notify the public about the plans. The power of the people can determine the future of the project by engaging in communication with the councilmembers, including the Mayor and speaking at the zoning meeting before the Zoning and Planning Commission. Please note, every councilmember has a zoning commissioner.
So where do we go from here? Some folks say they are sick and tired of hearing about the need to vote. The choice to remain silent, sit on the sidelines and not vote is a decision in and of itself. This community, young and old have the power to make a change to fight apathy and complacency. Don’t know if the meeting at the Golf Club can be considered as a hole in one, but It is certainly would be worth it to stay in the game.
Carolyn Arnold, President – Oak Cliff Leadership Council, Former Dallas City Councilmember. Follow Carolyn King Arnold on Facebook