City Council meeting highlights

4/11/2013, noon

In a Dallas City Council meeting held on April 3, city staff briefed the council on improvements made to the Municipal Courts since August.

Key improvements include a reduction of cases dismissed due to insufficient evidence, a decrease of the time convicted offenders spend in prison, an increase in community service and work release candidates, and the development of the Dallas Serial Inebriate Rehabilitation Program.

The purpose of the program is the identification of serial offenders and their eventual enrollment in rehabilitation programs. The program would also track patient progress. Participating organizations include the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Parkland Hospital, the Criminal Justice Department, Homeward Bound, the Dallas County Re-Entry Council, the Criminal Justice Department, and Housing and Community Services.

Future improvements to the courts include facility renovations, the implementation of the Court Case Management System, and an increase in police officer appearances during court proceedings.

Developed in 2011, the Dallas Bike Plan was designed to provide cycling lanes and bicycle facilities throughout the city. The city will implement the plan in three phases over 10 years.

Of the 1,127 miles of bicycle facilities to be completed, 126 miles have been completed. The estimated cost of the first phase is $975,000. This figure does not include maintenance. The Dallas Street

Department has $500,000 per year to dedicate to on-street cycling facilities. The city expects to complete the first phase of implementation in 2014.

Financing for the second and third phases will come from the Street Department’s operating budget and bond funds. Because this financing is insufficient to meet the completion deadline, additional funding may be used from grants, private donations and the city’s general fund.

The city plans to educate and engage the public in its cycling program through the promotion of events such as National Bike to Work Day, National Bike to School Day and an annual car-free weekend. Officials also plan to develop a bicycle sharing program as well as appointing individuals to the Bicycle Advisory Working Group that will help raise funds for the cycling program, implement educational initiatives, and monitor the Bikeway System program.

Despite the unanimous support of the construction plans, Councilman Dwaine Caraway expressed concern that neighborhoods in the Southern Sector would be neglected and disconnected from the city’s improvements. Caraway called for the construction of additional bike lanes that would link Oak Cliff to the Bishop Arts District.

“If we never connect, we never grow,” Caraway stated.

The council approved the appointment of Diane L. Sherman to the Landmark Commission.