Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Promises, promises, promises

For the last few months, Residents in Rochester Park have been meeting with City officials to communicate frustrations (one of them being that entire rows of street lights have been out form months (see the picture to the left). Calling 3-1-1 didn't seem to get results.

The Dallas Housing Authority and the city have been talking about leveling Turner Courts and rebuilding it into nice town homes for the last 5 years. That conversation continues. City documents show that it *will* happen...in the next 5 years.

What I find interesting (though I guess it should be a no-brainer) is that people are less concerned about what will happen in 5 years and more concerned about their safety and their quality of life NOW.

They want working swing sets for their children....stray dogs picked up by the pound...street lights that work...police that patrol (instead of just parking and waiting)...repairs made to their home (apartment) when the work order is called in...stores that dust their shelves and sell food that isn't expired...

They want to be able to invite friends into their home and not be embarrassed by the conditions they live in.

Part of the problem is that Rochester Park is a high crime neighborhood. Vandalism and crime happens frequently. So, just about the time the street lights are fixed, someone figures out a way to short circuit them from the base. The city and DHA are tired of sinking their dollars into the same repair over and over again. I empathize with their plight. However, that is the business they're in. Their job is to fix what is broken. And there are many other residents who *aren't* causing problems. Those residents shouldn't have to deal with indecent conditions. They deserve better than that.

So far, the residents gathering are small in number, but we continue to come together...to educate ourselves about the process...to bring the conditions to the attention of the city and DHA...and to fight for the right to a decent living.

Some things are happening.

I received an email the other day:

A night time survey of Bexar and Municipal streets was preformed at 6 am Friday the 8th and a list of the lights not working was sent to Oncor for repair. The lights should be repaired within 5 working days.


As a result of residents and former residents communicating concerns, making phone calls, and attending city meetings, almost all of the street lights are now working, animal services are coming around to pick up stray animals, store owners are being called to upgrade their stores, and maintenance issues are being heard. We are not finished. Residents still have concerns about security and police patrol...among others. We still have more work to do on the current issues as well. They're not perfect yet. We will continue working on those issues.

I want to commend Dwaine Caraway, Mayor Pro Tem, for continuing to show up...and bringing out numerous city officials...to help us address our concerns.

I also want to commend Kassem Elkhalil from Public Works for working so hard to make things happen...especially getting the street lights turned back on. Without any prompting, he makes sure to email and tell me what's going on.

We are happy with the progress, but we still have a lot of work to do! Getting the city to focus on the issues are just the beginning. We have to figure out how get them to listen and consistently ensure that our neighborhood is clean, safe, and livable.
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