"Trees Do Not Vote" and Other Highlights From Contentious Council Talk About a Walmart

CarawayWalmart.jpg
Speaking of Dwaine Caraway ...

The city council just voted on that Walmart Supercenter proposed for Ledbetter and R.L. Thornton, and though it ultimately passed unanimously it was no simple thing -- far from. It was quite the discussion -- heated at times, thoughtful at others. On the surface it was about trees, about city staff and conservationists' concerns that Walmart will turn a small forest near Five Mile Creek into firewood. But in the end it was really about north versus south, black versus white, Big Business versus little people -- all the usual things, in other words.

Caraway gave not one but two speeches, each passionate and occasionally rambling; there was something in there about "racoons and things running into people's houses because of these trees." When Sandy Greyson proposed adding a friendly amendment demanding Walmart do a better job of saving the trees, he absolutely refused.

"I'm tired of begging," Caraway said, his voice on the verge of cracking. "I'm truly tired as an African-American of having to plead, prove up to certain standards. We're sitting here transforming a community, a whole section of Dallas. And how dare either myself or anybody who wants to go to Walmart, which has come willing to the neighborhood ... and at the 11th hour negotiate. The signal that it sends is that other folks and other stores -- H-E-B, Central Market -- they don't want to come and go through this. They don't want to come to the southern sector if we're talking about trees. ... When we are doing development in other areas across the city, we don't have to go through all this." Again, he said, "I'm through begging." Then he said it again. And again.

Caraway and Tennell Atkins and Vonciel Jones Hill did not take kindly to folks from north of the Trinity coming to City Hall today to ask council to fix a broken tree ordinance. The three council members saw them as outsiders from Irving, from Richardson, from University Park trying to sabotage development in the south.

Said Caraway: The reason southern Dallas has such glorious trees is because there's been no development there. "It's an insult when you're trying to stop the development of southern Dallas."

Said Atkins: "I'd be glad to take the Galleria and NorthPark to southern Dallas and move some of my trees to North Dallas." He said: Trees are nice, but "trees do not vote."

Said Hill: "You do not live where I live. I find it offensive that you believe you have the right to tell us what development should come to our community that has for so long been starved for development. Mr. Caraway is exactly correct: If we had the Galleria and some of those other things that developed north of the Trinity, we wouldn't have the trees."

Sandy Greyson tried to explain: This isn't about stopping Walmart, but about trying to preserve the tree canopy and asking Walmart to replace each tree taken down for the Supercenter. "What they're asking for is some consideration about how trees help air quality," she told her colleagues. "We breathe this air, all of us. A tree canopy contributes greatly to air quality in this region." As for North Dallas, she said: "North Dallas was cotton fields anyway. We didn't have a lot of trees" to chop down. So, there? But she knew hers was a losing battle. She said in Dallas, economic development trumps all.

Mayor Mike Rawlings, wrapping up the discussion, took issue with that. "That shouldn't be the case, and I don't think it is. Public safety and the health of our citizens come first. We can have economic development at the same time, so for my north star I do not want economic development to be the guiding light."

And with that, everyone voted "aye."

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90 comments
jerran
jerran

Well as someone who has lived in this neighborhood for over 35 yrs, I am thrilled with this new development. Don`t get me wrong, I understand about the tree ordinance as well the issue with the depressed shopping center across Ledbetter from the new site. But, companies have basically abandoned this area consistently. It would be nice to have some new development in the area. My hope is that this development will spur revitalization here.Regardless of white or black, north or south, I love my city. All of my city and i`d love to see every area prosper and grow. And I feel that developers are missing out on the economic benefit to them by not building here. I mean it would be nice not to have to go to Cedar Hill for everything, no offense Cedar Hill. It just would be nice to have businesses close to home with whom I could spend my money with. Gas is sooo high now.

mossy
mossy

Also, I am unfamiliar with Wal-Marts argument and terms or conditions but it seems they have a real interest in being in the areas sooo i would think there should be some leverage in positioning them to an appropriate area that is lucrative for them but retains any long term positive things the city already has, like a green belt. Any how that's just my two cents from an outsider.

mossy
mossy

Developing South Dallas is an honorable objective but i hope elected officials are being smart about it by preserving naturally beautiful areas. If you notice, people pay more for living in areas with parks, woods, and greenery. Air quality and green areas were a major factor in driving me north for my home.

Were there no abandoned junk lotts that could be cleared for a Wal-Mart? I see plenty whenever I go to South Dalla. Eye sores that would not be controversial to remove. I doubt live in that area but I don't partake in the silly North South divide. That area is my neighbor and their success is a success for the whole region. If you want the area to be a place worth visiting then you might start by making it a place people will consider living in. ..clear out delapidated abandoned buildings and preserve natural green belts.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

If Caraway really cares about jobs and development he and a few friends should get together and kick JWP's ass to the curb for balling up the Inland Port deal.  You know, something with real jobs that pay a lot better than stockboy and cashier.

Jhkhk
Jhkhk

Damn, South Dallas was so close to being like Austin, but then Wal-Mart had to ruin everything...

Larry NoDough
Larry NoDough

I don't understand why the forest has be to be touched. There is plenty of already developed land at that site -- a former Sam's, a bunch of empty buildings and lots of parking lots.Why destroy the trees to build a Walmart about 5  miles from the next walmart..Why is this?And, who needs a WalMart when we don't even have a bookstore, a Stabucks or a damned actual big leauge department store?

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Atkins: " Trees are nice, but "trees don't vote." Really now? No Shit!

GlenOaksRes
GlenOaksRes

bottom line is most of the people that are posting here will never go there anyway. a lot of it is also hatred for wal-mart. but guess what? Us neighbors that LIVE in the area  wanted this store and we worked hard on the issues that WE thought were important.

jfpo
jfpo

Didn't I read earlier that there is an abandoned lot/shopping center across the street? If so, why didn't the city make WalMart locate there? Not the Dallas way, I guess.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Atkins, Caraway and Jones-Hill are always the victim when it comes to their district(s). Instead of playing this smart and encouraging professional arborists to come in and help preserve that portion of the Great Trinity Forest w/ the project, they decide to engage in their typical "North Vs South" bullsch politics and make empty promises about encouraging big business into their personal dumps (i.e. Central Market talk) when they all know higher end business only targets higher-educated neighborhoods w/ disposable incomes.

Enough of playing the "poor pitiful black" card, grow a pair and learn how to debate an issue w/o race involved..

MattL1
MattL1

So, is Caraway through begging or what?

Montemalone
Montemalone

If one of the North Dallas members had made reference to 'coons coming into peoples' houses, this meeting might have taken a different turn.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

There was absolutely no reason not to require Walmart to mitigate, and I'm betting they would have AND still built the store.  Sandy Greyson was right.  Instead, certain council members have allowed themselves to be rolled by Walmart.  And any subsequent developer.  The tree ordinance is Code.  Has been for quite some time.  As Lorlee said, zoning is here for a reason.  Ms. Hill's indignation was downright silly.  And Carraway's speeches.....enough already.

Renegade
Renegade

Where was the concern when Sam's/Walmart/JCPenney decimated Timber Creek, at NW Hwy and Skillman?  A few acres of trees gone, and the creek buried in a concrete tomb. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

Aren't they right now getting ready to pay a big-ticket law firm gungillions of dollars so they can truck ALL of Dallas' trash into McCommas in South Dallas?  Doesn't a big new toxin spewing, pollutant leeching processing and recycling plant come with that?  Where is their concern for the 'environment' in that situation?  I guess South Dallas is OK for refuse, but not for groceries.

RC
RC

Lelt's talk about the tree clear cutting episode out by Mountain Creek via a developer that has never been remedied. That was during Ed Oakley's term and it still looks the same.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

So going forward when it comes to economic develop, what I hear from some council members is an 'environment be damned give me my damn check' attitude. No nuance, no compromise, no nuthin. But for the second time, I do hear something from Mayor Mike that is loaded with nuance..."Public safety and the health of our citizens come first. We can have economic development at the same time, so for my north star I do not want economic development to be the guiding light."  When it comes time to hash out a new gas ordinance, it's going to be really interesting to see and hear all of the members comments when it comes to revenue vs.public health and environmental concerns. Really interesting.

Ellum08
Ellum08

What I have to keep reminding myself is that this is a part of town where there is nothing, I mean not a gd thing, in regards to even halfway decent commercial development. So I get what Carraway, et. al. are saying, but at the same time, shouldn't we as a city and even the neighbors desire and want something better than just a plain jane Wal-Mart? I abhor Wal-Mart for all the evil it is, but then again, I have the option of at least four other grocery stores within a mile of where I live.

I just would hate for South Dallas to end up as characterless (for the most part) as portions of North Dallas.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Not really wal-mart, but three spolied cry babies on the city council who use "the card" to bend the city to their will. Its typical so. dallas "ghettofabulous" politics at its best. The area will become another dirt mall w/ wig stores and high crime within five years.

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

Hey.....at least we have Rudy's Chicken, Sweet Georgia Brown and a shrimp fried rice "restaurant" ..You can go to Mcdonalds or 7-Eleven to get coffee, you can even go to Fiesta to make a copy, and I bet ya WALMART will have a section for novels at the checkout counter. Better yet, speaking of big league department stores we have Citi's Trends. Now, North Dallas, bet you don't that in your neighborhood.

Jedis54
Jedis54

Agreed.  The pefect site would be the old Kmart(now Plaza de Americanos) site east of 35.  

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Because theres other viable property in the area that can be used. Again, your south dallas leaders dont really care about being good consensus builders w/ the other disticts in the city and instead like to start trouble for everyone..

guest
guest

It's all about making Dallas look cool to people from other areas. It's all about image here. All you need is to look at the new signature bridge to see that! The folks on this board shop at the hip, indie, $$$ places...Wal-Mart is beneath them. If the development was for something other than a Wal-Mart, Dollar Store, etc...you wouldn't hear too much fuss.

Jedis54
Jedis54

The old Gibsons store is basically across the street(corner of Ann Arbor and 35)But Big T Plaza takes up the old Target building.  That area is/was called Village Fair.   

US175guy
US175guy

Not quite fully abandoned, but still could use some attention if it's going to be useful and active again: http://maps.google.com/?ll=32....

It's got half of a mall-style ring-road with several different properties within it.  But yet, no one has stepped forward with any kind of redevelopment/improvement plan for the area.  Walmart is the nearest thing to new chain development, and the lot to the south across Loop 12 is where they wanted and got approved for.  The NW corner would be a great Grapevine Mills-style or lifestyle (open air) center-type area.

cp
cp

What I said during my city council campaign is that south Dallas leaders have to work harder because their challenges and needs are far greater. And this is what we get...

OakCliffRes
OakCliffRes

nothing poor and pitiful about working to get a store in your neighborhood.  fosomeone that says someone else should "grow a pair" how come you didn't come to council and say what you wrote here?

GlenOaksRes
GlenOaksRes

Sandy Greyson represents District 12 in Far north dallas ie mostly Collin County. I'm surprised she even knew where it was. How many supermarkets are in her area. they have everything..but let me guess ....it was all pavement before they built the stores. riiiiiight.

Also from the meeting it sounded like other north dallas councilpeople (Koop?) went to tour the site.  Did she?  I'll wait but I'm guessing the answer is no.

cp
cp

Whose concerns are you talking about? The trees huggers? Who have been OPPOSED to it all along? 

cp
cp

Grady Nibolo? That he defended to the nth? Yeah, that was awesome. 

guest
guest

I know lots of characters out here in N.Dallas...maybe, not as many smug, self righteous, "shit don't stink folks" as there are in the inner cores, but, hey! you can't have everything, now, can ya?

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

Hello, I'm right here.  I'm sure North Oak Cliff is around here somewhere, too.  Please be more sensitive with your comments!

Hispanic, and never begging
Hispanic, and never begging

I am with you guys on this one, I just don't know how to play a game where the race card is the wild one and trumps all others. The real question is,  "when is someone going to take that race card and run with it?" That would put it in the open and take away its power, maybe someday there will be brave souls not afraid to be called racists. That's how the wild card works, when its not going your way, you say its because "I'm Hispanic, or, it must be because I always have to beg, like I'm still your slave". Really? Well then let's talk about slavery and how we are currently enslaved by never being able to talk about how those times are OVER and if you still feel like a slave, it's probably because you don't know how to get along with others.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Dwaine.

Jedis54
Jedis54

Honestly I think a better location would be further east in the Highland Hills area between 45 and Bonnie View road.  There is plenty of land east of Lancaster Road, going east on Simpson Stuart toward Mt. Tabor Baptist Church and Paul Quinn college.  There is an abandoned Chevron gas station on the corner of 45 and Simpson Stuart that would be ideal.  The residents of that area have been begging for adequate retail and grocery options.  

Jedis54
Jedis54

Oak Cliff....south Dallas is the Fair Park area.

OakCliffRes
OakCliffRes

yeah probably not enough Goat Cheese and "chef-driven" artisan foods for their special palates

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

That area also used to have a Treasury City when I was a kid as well. Instead of taking out one a large strech of blackland prarie forest, why not buy out the mentioned property and re-develop it accordingly.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Because, unlike many of the tin-foil hat cranks who show up at council and blame whitey for their issues, I have a real job and responsibilities.

Urbandweller2003
Urbandweller2003

The Southern sector should not want to immulate the way North Dallas was developed. This is not a black or white thing. North Dallas don't care about Walmart being built in Southern Dallas, it's the trees. It's all about destroying forest trees. I think this is a case of some people not being educated on the long term affect of getting rid of trees. The Trinity Forest promotes clean air, natural habitat, wildlife etc. In exchange the people will get a hunk of heated concrete and a big box that will eventually be empty, then we will have this conversation again about what went wrong. You don't have to live in a niegborhood to know this is wrong. What inner city neighborbor has part of a national forest? Not many. This area should have been protected from developers long ago, but who would have thought........The people in that area was sold out for a Walmart. I like Walmart, but damn is that all Southern Dallas can get.  No one from that area opposed it, they wanted it. So Southern Dallas will continue to get what Southern Dallas deserve.

Ben
Ben

If you are really a Glen Oaks resident, why didn't your HOA block Walmart? Your HOA was successful in blocking other projects at the site. Why the change of heart? Did someone offer your HOA money?

FND neighbor
FND neighbor

District 12 has very little green space left, and that's probably why Greyson is more sympathetic to the tree ordinance issue. You think people in Far North Dallas like having that many shopping centers plus the insane traffic? When the area was developed in the 1970s and 80s, no one cared about trees. It was all build, build, build. Now, it's too late. There's no reason that South Dallas should end up the same way. Why not develop responsibly? If anyone understands this issue, it's Greyson.

cp
cp

Koop has been very involved in environmental issues in the southern sector for many years, I have worked with her so she knows "where it was". Same with Sandy. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

Obviously, I'm speaking about the concerns of the city council members who are 'concerned' about the trees in south dallas.

RC
RC

Dallas City Hall won't touch it. Bottom line: Mary would have to cough up money and the 'ol gal has pulled the last dollar to give from her bra.

cp
cp

Quit being a wuss. I live in South Dallas, my neighborhood is the northern-most "gateway community" to the City's Great Trinity Forest. We have to drive to Mesquite or Garland to get hardware supplies. I am a tree hugger. There are ways to develop "within the envelope" and there are other, older, out-dated, last century methods that it seems only Dallas effectively embraces. 

Jedis54
Jedis54

I think the old Sams building used to be the Treasure City/Gibsons.  

JimS
JimS

Um, Chris, I'm sorry, but I think you're putting tinfoil hats with the wrong uniforms. We tinfoilers are very serious about our traditions.

Ben
Ben

 A man named Walt Kelly wrote a comic strip a number of years ago called Pogo. Much of his work is chronicled in a book called The Pogo Papers. You should find a copy, keep it in the throne room for bathroom reading. His main character Pogo Possum has a number of memorable quotes, the most famous, borrowed from the War of 1812 is “We have met the enemy and they are us” — Pogo Possum. You know, 40 years ago some guy named Ray Nasher wanted to build a shopping mall in that neighborhood called Southpark. A mirror to his Northpark also on Loop 12. Glen Oaks told him to beat sand. Not in their neighborhood. Next time you drive by Big T "Bizarre", think what could have been. A number of developers have wanted to build everything from apartments, a hospital, a nursing home in that area. All shot down. Enjoy your glass house!

OakCliffRes
OakCliffRes

Your question is very offensive and ignorant. We don't need to be offered money. But I tell you what, come to our next meeting and ask the question there.

For the rest of you that have class and tact, we haven't blocked anything at that site.  we wanted a Wal-Mart of Target because we were sick of driving all over for retail. 

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