In the absence of any unusually heated zoning controversies, this month I’ll focus on a couple of general, long-range efforts to improve our neighborhoods.

Last month, the Dallas Plan organized the second annual Neighborhood Fair in conjunction with many groups involved with neighborhood issues, such as the Dallas Homeowners League, the Greater Dallas Community Relations Commission and Preservation Dallas.

The fair, held Downtown at the Junior Black Academy, attracted about 100 participants from diverse backgrounds.

After welcomes from City Councilman Chris Luna and Dallas Plan Executive Director Karen Walz, the fair split into a number of workshops about such topics as community fund-raising and organizational and liability issues for neighborhoods.

The Dallas Homeowners League and the Texas Department of Insurance sponsored a special seminar about the problem of obtaining insurance on older homes and homes in low- to moderate-income areas. The workshop discussed new state laws that should help solve the problem.

The planners and sponsors of the fair, which included virtually every Citywide group involved in some way with planning and community development, hailed it as a great success and are planning on an even bigger event next year.

Neighborhood Groups Join Forces

Due to the large number of long-range planning efforts underway in East Dallas – among them the ongoing studies affecting Gaston Avenue, Greenville Avenue and Henderson Avenue – a number of community leaders called a meeting last month at Robert E. Lee Elementary to kick off what is being called the “East Dallas Planning Effort.”

The purpose of the effort is to coordinate the various neighborhoods and business groups involved in community improvement so they can communicate better and support each other’s aspirations.

New School Planned at Health Management Site

David Smith, community liaison for the John F. Kennedy Learning Center at 1802 Moser, wrote the Advocate with information about the site of the recently demolished Health Magnet at Ross and Carroll, the prospective reuse of which I speculated about last month.

Mr. Smith tells us the site will eventually be used for the construction of an approximately 85,000-square-foot pre-kindergarten through sixth grade school to be named after Hispanic labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

There’s no word yet on when construction will begin.

Vickery Place Apartment Project

After a long, quiet period, we now have more information about the Phoenix Properties apartment project to be built in the 5100 blocks of Willis and Richard in Vickery Place.

Original plans to close Willis and Richard have been changed. The streets will remain open and will not allow on-street parking.

Phoenix is proceeding with the City process for approval of several variances and exceptions. The Vickery Place neighborhood has conditioned its support of the project on Phoenix providing traffic mitigation measures and a traffic light at Homer and Henderson.

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