Support the Emerald Isle Development
The greater Casa Linda area of Dallas features several mature neighborhoods. While a portion of the area is stable, it has suffered through years of decline and neglect, and its future is uncertain.
The area certainly has some solid fundamentals:
- Relatively close to downtown.
- Next door to Dallas's crown jewel park and a 10 minute drive from Fair Park.
- A few really good schools.
- Several active neighborhood associations.
- Relatively low crime (for Dallas).
But some serious problems inject the uncertainty:
- Unstable neighborhoods line the area's east side, continually threatening the area with creeping decline.
- Some neighborhoods adjacent to Ferguson Road have uncertain futures or are undergoing painfully slow, fragile recoveries.
- Buckner between Ferguson Road and I-30 is known to the Dallas Police Department to be a major crime area.
- Retail development along the entire Garland Road corridor is mixed. For example, Dollar General, a recent arrival near the Little Forest Hills neighborhood, is a chain that prospers in distressed areas.
- Desirable projects are falling through, such as the Alamo Draft House at the Casa Linda theater.
- A relatively new apartment complex near Doctor's Hospital was recently purchased by Unified Housing Foundation, a nonprofit that specializes in providing "low to moderate-income housing."
It is not clear that the region has the economic status to attract or sustain desirable development or halt the collapse of adjacent neighborhoods.
Weighing the good stuff against the problems, it is apparent that if the greater Casa Linda area is to experience a meaningful revival, it will either be a slow, fragile recovery vulnerable to setbacks, or it will happen with external forcing.
Mindset of Limited Vocabulary
There is a condition whose symptom is a vocabulary of negotiation containing few words other than "no." People with this condition have the "limited vocabulary mindset." With this mindset, any change other than a reversion to some mythical, 1950s-style ideal or the installation of trendy retail deserves liberal use of "no." Also, anything involving wealth or capital often get the big "no."
"No" to this. "No" to that. "No, no, no." It's a gut, emotional response.
A gaggle of people with this mindset is a "no monster."
When The "No Monster" Is Good
Some proposals are too obnoxious to deserve anything but "no." The "no monster" appropriately scuttled these proposals:
- A restaurant or gas station proposed for some empty lots in a stable neighborhood.
- A low class Tejano bar proposed for a location adjacent to two stable neighborhoods and very close to a daycare.
- Obnoxious commercial uses of homes on the perimeter of neighborhoods.
Many other times, however, the "no monster" scuttles good ideas.
We Like Flooding
In the past 15 years, Dallas twice proposed improving Dixon Branch's drainage with an attractive channel that had hike and bike trails, textured concrete, gabion walls, and other attractive amenities. The fear was that catastrophic flooding could occur without these drainage improvements. The "no monster" scuttled the proposal both times. In fact, the "no monster" was so vociferous that it made several Dallas Morning News articles and prevented even the opportunity to discuss alternatives.
The opposition had some credible points: this improvement would require wiping out a lot of trees and vegetation and would irrevocably alter a somewhat natural setting.
Unfortunately, the city's engineers were correct: in March 2006, a large flood caused by a series of storms and poor creek drainage damaged over 60 homes. The "no monster" won, and the result was a disaster.
We Like Congestion
Fortunately, the "no monster" doesn't always win. Case in point: the Garland and Buckner intersection, a.k.a. the Texas State Highway Loop 12 and Texas State Highway 78 intersection, is badly congested. Go the wrong way during rush hour, and you'll wait several signal cycles before you're on the other side.
The Texas Department of Transportation is spearheading a rework of that intersection. Predictably, the "no monster" perked up quickly, and the "no"s came flying as soon as the news got out.
Here's where things changed. The "no"s got their moment in the limelight, but fortunately, they lost. Had the "no monsters" won, TxDOT and Dallas could have forced the original, federally-backed, less desirable plan. Cooler heads prevailed. Thanks to them, the final proposal is an attractive compromise. See it for yourself. This isn't a run-of-the-mill intersection rework.
We Like Stagnation
The latest "no"-magnet is the well-publicized Emerald Isle Tower. This is a $50,000,000 gift that can revolutionize our area. The "no" monster woke up and quickly started chewing. That is not surprise; again, this project involves moneyed people, and it doesn't revert the area to a 1950s ideal. The "no" monster is now telling us this is the worst thing imaginable.
This time, the "no monster's" exaggerations and distortions far exceed its credible arguments. See the distortions yourself.
"No Monster" Alternative?
What's the alternative to the "no monster"? Is it the compliant "yes sissy"? Is it the "whatever, who cares? nimrod"?
No. The best alternative is "the thinker." The thinker doesn't immediately revert to emotional nos. The thinker doesn't twist facts to suit his agenda. The thinker isn't opposed to anything other than a pseudo-1950s ideal.
The thinker actually thinks about the pros and cons and supports good ideas. The thinker is open to compromise. The thinker knows that the future is not like the past. The thinker collaborates with government and developers.
Trust, But Verify
I must stress this: do not ever, ever blindly trust anyone in a major project. The government and developers must disclose as much as is reasonable, and they must be held accountable to their promises.
In this respect, the thinker isn't weaker than the "no monster." The difference between them isn't in aggression, ambition, or zeal. The difference is in how the thinker frames the debate.
Why "No Monster" vs. "The Thinker"?
Why is this debate on "no monsters" and thinkers important? Stagnation. The greater Casa Linda area has been stagnant for years. It is increasingly clear that if the only accepted way out of stagnation is a reversion to the 1950s, the area will go nowhere.
The world is changing. Will we be sticks in the mud, reflexively shouting emotional, thoughtless "no"s to every change? or will we be open-minded, adptable, and thrive with change?
Copyright © 2006 Aren Cambre.
All original thoughts expressed on this site are my own. This site is not affiliated with any other organization and has not received any financial support from any party besides Aren Cambre's time and wallet.