I want to have a heart-to-heart chat with you about your future.
I know we’ve had our differences over the years — I’ve said some things, you’ve said some things. I’ve mocked your charrettes and your desperate need for world classiness. You’ve accused me of trying to send a billion dollars down the river when I tried to kill the Trinity Toll Road. I’ve questioned your insatiable thirst for bigger and shinier and massively more expensive things. You’ve gotten mad that I won’t go along to get along.
There have been times I’ve had harsh words for you. But when I’m critical of your submersible toll road or city-owned hotel or faux suspension bridge, it’s only because I know you’re capable of so much more. You could be an amazing city to live in, but you won’t get there by fixating on projects like this. That kind of stuff won’t do a thing to improve Dallasites’ everyday lives.
So, as your frenemy, I’d like to offer you some advice.
First of all, you’ve got to let go of this world-class nonsense. You spend way too much time talking about being a world class “this” and having a world class “that.” Then you petulantly threaten that if you don’t get a gazillion dollars to spend on some shiny new bauble, your friends won’t think you’re world class. You must stop trying to out-fancy the more popular cities and focus on being the best Dallas you can be. And stop worrying about what your friends think.
Speaking of your “friends,” I’m worried you’re being overly influenced by this crowd you’re hanging around with, these rich kids. When they say “jump,” you say “how many horse parks do you want?” I just don’t think they have your best interests at heart, and I think they manipulate you to line their own pockets. Do they even live in Dallas, or do they retreat to their manses in the bubble when it comes time to return your friendship? What does that tell you about how much they care?
Your friends from the suburbs are another matter. I like them. I do. And I think it’s important for you to work on projects together. But you’re letting them take advantage of you. You’re more than willing to spend your own money and pour concrete over a huge swath of Dallas parkland so they can get home a couple of minutes faster. Once you give them what they want, they’ll drive past, and won’t even stop by to visit. Is that really what’s best for you and your residents?
City of Dallas, I want you to take a good, long look in the mirror. Embrace who you are. Get comfortable with the fact that you are not Paris or London or New York City. Stop trying to impress your regional friends with more and more freeways. Stop collecting fancy baubles to show off to the rich kids.
Instead, start listening to your neighborhoods. Focus on the little things that make a big difference to us, like smooth streets, beautiful parks and public safety. Your rich kid friends might sneer at such prosaic notions, but this isn’t a plea to think small. It’s a plea to think big about the small things. We love bold ideas like Klyde Warren Park, the Katy Trail, the Dallas Arboretum. These are grand projects that benefit us, your residents and your neighborhoods, instead of commuters or visitors or big business.
So help us shape a new city that puts neighborhoods first. Give us better infrastructure and better city services. Help us construct and connect bikeways and sidewalks with schools, transit and work centers. Support our small businesses by reducing City Hall’s red tape. Invest in more Lower Greenvilles and Bishop Arts Districts. Most importantly, remember who your true friends are — your residents.
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