Up East Dallas Without a Paddle

Categories: Schutze

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Very mixed feelings about the city council briefing coming up this morning on proposed East Dallas storm-water projects. On the one hand, my paranoia is confirmed, which is always satisfying. On the other hand, there's not much I can do about it.

Yes, just as I thought, my house in East Dallas -- two miles from White Rock Lake and four miles from the Trinity River -- is subject to flooding, according to the graphics being shown to the council today.

I figured that out years ago. I have my own system of hydrological engineering assessment. During torrential rains I stand in my front yard and count the commercial dumpsters floating down my street.

A three-dumpster flood is serious. It means I have to hide in my house in case people outside start asking to be rescued. Damned whiners, always holding on to trees shouting, "Help! Help!" like I'm, what, Michael Phelps?

Anyway, the graphics for today's briefing show my end of my block as being subject to flood waters four- to six-feet deep during what they call a "standard project" flood or "100-year" flood.

Please don't ask me what any of that shit means. It means three-dumpster floods to me. In my experience, three-dumpster floods happen every five or six years.

The briefing today explains why they happen: "Undersized local drainage systems result in flows that back up along the surface streets."

Translation: Storm water pipes are too old, too small, clogged, can't handle the water. The briefing says what happens because of it: "The streets in these areas look like rivers." No translation needed.

So why does that make me paranoid? What, do I think the rain is aimed specifically at me? Let's discuss that another time. I have some things that might surprise you.
But for now, no, that's not what makes me paranoid. Not the only thing, anyway. What makes me paranoid is that the solutions being proposed today at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars -- solutions we have awaited with bated breath in my neighborhood -- will do nothing for us. Zip.

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A light shower falls in Schutze's 'hood.
The Peaks Branch and Mill Creek storm-water project being proposed today will help the Baylor Medical Center and the Victory development around the American Airlines Center. But they won't do anything for the residential areas north of Baylor extending up through Old East Dallas to Mockingbird Lane and Greenville Avenue.

Those neighborhoods, according to the briefing, will have to wait for "future bond programs." But wait. The Mill Creek and Peaks Branch proposals are already dependent on a future bond program. So I guess my own neighborhood will have to wait for a future-after-the-future bond program.

It just worsens my sense of impending Third Worldliness. We'll all be living under bridges by then earning our livings weaving trinkets out of straw to sell to rich Mexicans.

I called Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan to ask why the areas closer to the river are getting the high-dollar flood-protection first, ahead of my area. She said, "With drainage, the normal approach is that you start at the downstream end and work your way up."

I can sort of see that. They can't give us huge new storm water pipes first at the upstream end and then just blast all that water straight into Baylor Hospital and Victory. It would be wrong to do that to the hospital, because they have sick people there. Victory we could talk about.

But it is what it is. This kind of issue is going to pop up in all of the older parts of town. It's not related to the Trinity River levees, and it is related. This is about flooding from storm sewers, not the river. But today's briefing represents an interesting change in thinking from a 2006 plan that would have routed storm water from the State-Thomas area straight to the river.

Under the new plan, they're going to push State-Thomas' water the other direction, to White Rock Creek, to avoid touching the Trinity River levee system or dealing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That shows how touchy the whole levee safety issue has become.

The briefing just barely touches on another note that actually goes straight to the core of local dogma about real estate development. The briefing says the State-Thomas area just north of downtown needs $59 million in new storm-sewer work.

"Redevelopment over the years in the State-Thomas area has exceeded the capacity of local drainage systems and the existing Woodall Rodgers pressure sewer," the briefing says.

The mantra of City Hall has always been that all new development is good for the city because it "grows the tax base," but nobody ever puts a sharp pencil to the costs.
Storm water is only one such cost. Nobody ever adds up the money given away in tax incentives and the cost to provide other kinds of infrastructure from fire stations to schools.

Those costs come along down the road, like this one, and the taxpayer is expected to eat them. Nobody ever knows what the bottom line is. Nobody even asks.

Let's talk later about the rain being aimed specifically at me. All I ask is that you keep an open mind. And a hat on.

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29 comments
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The Credible Hulk
The Credible Hulk

Mayor Mike, Mary Suhm and all of the denizens of City Hall just want all of you *hippies* to take a bath.

If you won't bathe yourselves, East Dallas, they'll send a little help...

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

Solar powered water taxi's will be moored somewhere on White Rock Lake for this specific use.  No permit needed. 

Jgreenan
Jgreenan

 Look at the bright side. The drought is likely to continue all the way through next summer.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Why does Halff Associates appear to have an effective monopoly over all work of this sort with the City of Dallas?

lorlee
lorlee

one does wonder that.  They are the ones who thought up the Trinity River Boondoggle -- I believe as a company retirement plan. 

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Ahhh hell Jim, you've got a canoe and a paddle surley you can survive a five dumpster gully washer. Them folks at the ol' Chez Pompador and East Texas BBQ need some luv too and so do them shotgun cat houses in State-Thomas. But I bet if you and them other folks you live by hired Susan Mead y'all would be high and dry in no time.

LakeWWWooder
LakeWWWooder

Jim, by your house the old Skillman/Lindbergh from Live Oak up to Tietze Park was once a creek... Live Oak originally ended at the Collett Circle. I wish we still had that!  See: http://www.mungermongrels.com/...

Improving East Dallas by uncovering and beautifying portions of Mill Creek - as was planned by George Kessler along with the executed Turtle Creek improvements - would pay off big time for the city property values.  I can see it being done where Ross crosses Haskell, Exall Park and Hall Street to  Gaston and through parts of Deep Ellum.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Someone mentioned on here awhile back that uncovering mill creek will be a herculean undertaking due to where it flows. I'd love to see it uncovered myself and made into urban park space..

Sam
Sam

There's been lots of construction on what i assumed was the drainage system judging by the huge concrete pipes that have been laid out in the neighborhoods across Garland from  Whiterock Lake, i guess it's part of this project. It's been going on for a while now in that area although i've never noticed any flooding around there.

Phyllis Guest
Phyllis Guest

And meanwhile, according to the Texas Tribune's new posting of public employees' salaries, 150 City of Dallas employees make more than $100K per year. Another four make $100K.

For this we get wretched infrastructure, lighted skyscrapers, homeless problems, traffic accidents and more of less?

Montemalone
Montemalone

Don't forget about all that cool stainless steel playground equipment.

Paul
Paul

Please don't forget the string thingy bridge and the opera house for Highland Park ...

and the Trinity River Expressway/Tollroad best explained by this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Heres the real reason were in a bind, not just in Dallas, but statewide: Noone wants to pay their fair share of taxes. If everyone would quit their bitching and griping about paying property and business taxes, we wouldnt be having this dicussion. The only sure fix to this situation would be a state income tax that would put money back in the coffers and ensure streets, waterworks and other projects would be taken care of...

Bob Loblaw
Bob Loblaw

Why did there used to be plenty of money to build libraries and pools, keep roads in good repair, and maintain drainage and water projects? There were fewer tax payers and the rates were lower.  Why is the money the City is collecting now not enough?  I suspect the answer is that we are grossly overpaying present and retired city employees,--but why is no one asking this simple question?

Anon
Anon

There never was enough money. Did you miss that point of the story? There was enough money because we didn't take into account how much it would cost to take care of this stuff in the future. We just assumed growth would solve out problems. It's sort of like the highway budget. As long as the taxes on gas can pay the bills in cash, who cares how maintenance is funded? At least until 2013 when the cash actually runs out. That one will be interesting.

Anon
Anon

Except that most states with income taxes are in the same situation. I agree that taxes are too low overall, but raising them is just throwing good money after bad unless a change in the way the state/city operates accompanies any tax increase.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Anon, I agree, a sea change is needed from the top down. Increasing the tax base by proper methods including making business pay their just share is only the beginning..and I have never smoked a dirty doobie in my time dave, not my thing..

pak152
pak152

and what would the share for business be? of course just look at what happened in Illinois where they increased the corporate tax rate. Major companies threatened to leave until the government started handing out exemptions like they were M&Ms http://johnrlott.blogspot.com/...

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

So, let me get this straight.

You are saying we should trust the state government to do the right thing and give them more money?

Dude.

Put down the bong and step away.

Anon
Anon

There must be "pockets of money" somewhere for all these programs? Oh wait, it's not a sexy project.

Your point at the end is really the right one. The government (at all levels) is completely bankrupt because we allow for this nonsense cash accounting. It's sort of ironic that any company using such accounting would be punished by the same government that uses it to hide liabilities. Costs that can be paid in the future don't exist in government world because there's no cash today. That includes maintenance on infrastructure, pension costs, heating and cooling schools, etc. There's no way around the fact that we are really, really screwed. We could make developers pay for this, but again, that would reduce economic activity TODAY at the expense of FUTURE dollars, and we just can't have that.

Bob
Bob

People forget that Downtown is also a neighborhood. We sure are spending a lot of money on a single neighborhood to the detriment of other neighborhoods. I hope the extra "tax base" is worth it.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

I hope the extra "tax base" is worth it. Quoting Bob.I think we gave it all away ."Nobody ever adds up the money given away in tax incentive." Quoting Jim .

David Lee
David Lee

East Dallas is consistently ignored by the City Council. We can build "signature bridges", freeway rooftop parks, convention center hotels and whatever the Trinity River project actually is but we can't get basic infrastructure repaired in East Dallas.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Good.  Move out of the sprawl and to parts of the city that actually matter.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

I heard Little Elm is going to get an Olive Garden and a Bed Bath & Beyond in 2012, it's going to feel so metropolitan up there.

Guest
Guest

Occupy Sheffie!

Montemalone
Montemalone

Should I maybe set up an inflatable boat concession in Lakewood Shopping Center?

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