Update on City Hall's Outhouse Policy for Southern Dallas

Categories: Schutze

Small update here on the part of Dallas to which City Hall refuses to extend sewer service. We have spoken about it here several times. It's an area abutting the brand-new University of North Texas campus near Interstate 35E and I-20. DART is building a new rail station right there, but the station will have to operate with a septic tank because Dallas will not extend sewer service to it.

outhouse.jpg
Library of Congress
Artist's rendition of design for new southern Dallas DART rail station.

Just southwest of the campus is an area of several hundred acres with no sewers. The money for sewers for the area has been appropriated. A long public planning process several years ago called for sewers. The head of the city's water department gave property owners blueprints showing how the new sewer would be built. But there's no sewer.

The council person for that district, Tennell Atkins, refuses to allow sewerage to be extended to the area in question. The story I get on why he won't let it be done is that he hates the guts of Robert Pitre, one of the main property-owners. I asked Atkins if he hates Pitre's guts. He said no. Pitre said he doesn't know for sure if Atkins hates his guts, but he said it's possible.

At any rate, Atkins' official line on it is that the area is slated for major redevelopment associated with the campus, but no major developer has shown up yet with the will or the resources to do it. Therefore, Atkins says, it would be premature to put in sewer service before the ultimate nature of the redevelopment plan is known.

Pitre who owns 120 acres and other landowners in the area have told me they think the absence of sewer service is a barrier to redevelopment, and they want to know how many areas in white North Dallas have no service. Easy answer on that one. None. They want to know why the council member would want to run the redevelopment of the area entirely from City Hall and through city staff instead of bringing them in on the deal.

So last week I heard from elected officials including the mayor who told me they had discussed this very question with staff. The mayor ticked off a list of planning meetings and other public colloquies in the past that Pitre and other property owners had attended to show that they have not been excluded from the process. I am sure the staff was eager to provide him with all of those dates and places where the public was allowed to appear.

But that is not what this is about. This is not about public meetings. This is about a very important closed-door process going on right now at City Hall, shot-gunned by council member Atkins, in which a developer and plan are being sought for the area so that Atkins can lay the whole thing out as a fait accompli. The fact that it hasn't happened yet only means Atkins has not been successful yet, not that he isn't trying.

For his part, Atkins always tells me that Pitre and the others are welcome to come up with their own developer and their own plan any day. But, he knows the small business people in the area cannot come up with a mega-developer and serious money in the hundreds of millions on their own. He can say that all day long, all year long, because he knows they can't do it.

My question is this: When did we ever get the idea around here that major redevelopment of an entire area of the city should be run out of the hip pocket of City Hall? Why aren't the major land-owners in the area being brought to the same table with Atkins and top city staff when the fate of this area is discussed? I'm not talking about people standing up for three minutes at the mic in a public hearing. Why haven't the stakeholders in the area been deeply involved in discussions about the fate of their area?

Obviously the mayor and other elected officials have taken that question to staff. Just as obviously, they have been given some kind of bureaucratic ass-covering paperwork about public meetings.

But this is simple. Why aren't the property-owners in the deal? IN the deal. Not hearing about the deal at a public meeting. IN the deal, telling City Hall what they want to see done on their land, helping City Hall search for a developer. Oh, and one other question: Since the money for it has already been appropriated, would it be just too wildly extravagant and inappropriate to let them have some shit pipes?


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54 comments
kduble
kduble

During the hearings I've attended in the past, DART was adamant in maintaining its no-restroom policy for rail stations, no matter what the public wanted. Why is this an issue now?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

I know exactly what's going on here - and it's very disgusting.  It's about religion and race.

Religious and political leaders in South Dallas got their power during the pre- civil rights era environment.  Folks like Ray Price and "Bishop" Jakes rose to the top of their games by capitalizing on the victimization of blacks.  But now, the only way they feel they can hold on to power is by convincing their own people that they're still victims.  If they start feeling empowered, they won't need to be rescued - and that will destroy the current power structure.

So no matter how much money or other resources we make available, those creeps just quietly leave the money on the table and preach to their followers that whitey is still keeping them down.

The exception to this is when they can personally, profit from the government programs.  In those cases, they take the money and run.  That's why, a few years ago, many of the senior leaders of the South Dallas evangelical community were sent to prison, and why so many now are under investigation by federal law enforcement agencies.


observist
observist topcommenter

Cool Hand Luke?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The City's thinking is that they are adding a tremendous amount of value to the privately-held acreage by extending sewer (and I assume streets to city code).

so they want to be compensated, probably by an impact fee(s) of some kind.  You say the infrastructure has already been earmarked.  That won't stop the City from billing part of the cost to the developer, depending upon his plan.  If it's already in, they can't pin the infrastructure cost to the deal. 

In the case of a proposed residential subdivision, the water, sewer and streets are paid for by the developer and dedicated to the City upon subdivision completion.  This way the City gets free infrastructure.

This is the way it is normally done in Whitey town.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

I think this whole area has already been  "Visioned and Re-imagined-into some kind of wondrous planned community of Tomorrow"  .Today however of that view to the future does not include really compensating those who may hold deed or title the land.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

So, a councilperson is a petty, small minded asshole. Not news or surprising

Actually, how can the one of 14 block a public works project that's been funded and planned?

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

During the gas drilling fight, I found that yes, "public meetings" are routinely held.  A city council meeting is a "public meeting", as is a committee meeting. But the reach out to those specific citizens who would need to know about said "public meeting", who live in Atkins district were most likely never told. Currently, those of us who are unfortunate to live in either Hill's or Atkins district are asking for a public meeting to discuss the proposed expansion of Dallas Executive Airport runway to accommodate larger private jets in two years. Atkins says there will be a public meeting, Hill says there won't. There you go.

mcdallas
mcdallas

This story reminds me to ask... what's the latest on John Wiley Price?

WylieH
WylieH

I'm pretty sure NTTA and TxDOT don't wait for development plans to be finalized before agreeing to extend roads.


Also, I don't recall people in North Dallas being told they had to come up with detailed development plans before they got their sewers. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I love it that DART is building a 2.6 mile expansion of the Blue Line, but they need to get more officers on the lines and at stations, PRONTO.  The smoking on the platforms is out of control.  Recently, I was on the train where someone was smoking.  It was absolutely choking me.  People eating and putting their feet up on the next seat is common.  People who are obvious schizophrenics are loud and boisterous on the trains, and there are homeless who set up sleeping quarters in the cars instead of being at the shelter.  I can just imagine what someone who is just trying out DART rail for the first time must think.  How about, "Never again."

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@kduble  

I am confused. I do not find a comprehensive list of rail stations with restrooms, but I do find lots of them that have restrooms.

http://www.dart.org/riding/stations/arapahocenterstation.asp

I am ready to be corrected, though, if I am missing something here.

By the way, there will be a restroom at the UNTstation, but it will be on a septic tank, not a sewer line, therefore a small one only for DART staff.

observist
observist topcommenter

That was not intended to be free association or an opaque reference.  It was a reply to ThePosterFKAPaul waaaaay down thread that got mis-placed by the bad iOS interface.


"I'll see your cheesesteak and pizza and raise you a smoked brisket and a CHL"

...still don't know what CHL is referring to... Creamy Hot Latte?  CHipotLe? CHicken Liver?  

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@holmantx  

What you say is true that the developer is responsible for building the public infrastructure within the subdivision; however, the problem here is that there is no sanitary sewer for a proposed subdivision to connect to.

Lorlee
Lorlee

@dallasdrilling.wordpress.com In my experience, the meetings are held only because there must be some obscure requirement that you hold public meetings.  Then they come and TELL YOU you what you are supposed to think -- not ask what you might think.  I gave up going because it is a waste of time and changes nothing.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@s.aten  

No kidding. Needs to be redubbed, "14-1FU."

mcdallas
mcdallas

Ok, @JimSX, time for a JWP update.  The people have spoken...

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@WylieH But TxDot will make allowances for local billionaires.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@WylieH  

One of my own favorite little known facts about Dallas history, gleaned from some reporting I did on the burial of the creek that runs down Skillman ("Lindbergh" until he went pro Nazi) Rd in East Dallas, is that one reason the creeks in what is now the M Streets area had to be buried (I am thinking 1930s, '40s?) is that people moving into that area were doing their business directly into the creeks, and burying the creeks was a way to pressure them to go buy some damn toilets.   

mcdallas
mcdallas

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  WE MUST HAVE POLICE FOR SCOFFLAWS PUTTING THEIR FEET ON THE FURNITURE AND FOR SMOKING OUTSIDE!!  Pronto!

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

You know, you could just walk upwind of the smokers. As far as I'm concerned, on an outdoor platform smoke em if you got em.

kduble
kduble

How could a DART rail station have a restroom when they don't even have walls? Transfer centers have restrooms, because they're staffed during the day. Some transfer centers interface with rail and some are bus only.

If UNT is going to have a restroom, then DART is designating this as a transit center. This makes sense, as it will be DART's southernmost rail stop.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@observist  

CHL = Concealed Handgun License

It was a raise of items local to Texas that are not available in the Northeast ...

Besides ...

"Its a joke son, I say, its a joke, son." -- F.Leghorn

observist
observist topcommenter

Aaaaah... Google.  I thought we were talking about food, not guns, but I guess it's hard to differentiate them in Texas.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

That's a good story Jim.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@JimSX @WylieH 

Another little fun fact as to why Dallas did not annex the Park Cities ...

The original houses were built with septic tanks and there were no storm sewers.  Dallas did not want to spend the money to put in sanitary and storm sewers; and, water lines in to the development.

Same thing with the original part of Preston Hollow, the homes were built with septic tanks and fields.

One of the reasons why the original homes were built on large lots.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Hey, tell it to the thousands of people who would be commuting by rail instead of clogging the highways if it weren't for the disrespectful pigs that ride DART.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@RTGolden1 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  You've hit the nail on the head. A 30-45 minute rush hour drive to get my wife and I to work would become a 2+ hour one way trip if we took DART. DART really needs express routes running between suburbs. If it was an hour's trip to get there, we would take DART. The savings in gas and tolls would be worth it. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz or the thousands who would be riding DART if it wasn't designed in such an idiotic fashion.  Why does every trip have to route through downtown?  Do they think they will save downtown by increasing rail traffic through it?  People who aren't riding dart into downtown are not going to step off the train for a two-hour shopping spree before continuing on to their previous destination.


ruddski
ruddski

@tpfkap

Dude! Philly Cheesesteak, NY Pizza, Bagels, Bar hours.... There's a LOT about these cities Dallas should care about.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@MichaelinLH  Horrible.  There's this one dumpy slob at City Place that will yell if you take photos, but say nothing if you're smoking.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

If DART rail was really meant to make a dent in road congestion and provide an alternative to commuting by automobile, the rail lines would have been built to allow express service and not a toonerville trolley local service.

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