Oak Cliff Leadership Council
The Golf Club of Dallas served as host for the September Community Hearing on the new housing proposal made by Huffines Communities. The shock of bringing in 500 zero lot homes with values up to $250,00 was indeed an eye-opener. The proposal to knock the golf club down and build houses on the “green” was too much to digest for the audience.
The Wynnewood Hills, Elder Oaks and surrounding communities have a well established history of architectural design and grandeur. Councilman Casey Thomas, District 3, gave the community an opportunity to hear from the developer, Don Huffines. One thing is for sure: The stronger voices against the proposal stood loud and clear.
This situation was a reminder of the proposal made by another developer in the mid 2000s who wanted to build affordable homes in the Southern Sector near the Glen Oaks community. The assumption was made that this community would be an easy target and no one would care. Needless to say, the plan was abandoned because the community turned out in the same manner as the Golf Club residents and neighbors.
The words of Fannie Lou Hamer, delegate to the 1964 Democratic Convention, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired,” might have been the theme of the evening. She was tired of pushing for equality and being denied and ignored. The challenges that the Southern part of Dallas still face appeared to weigh heavily on the hearts, minds and souls of those who spoke. Many in attendance have vested history in the community and remembered the days of a “fully serviced neighborhood” with restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries and other forms of businesses.
The question was asked as to whether or not the City of Dallas could purchase the Club through the bond package. The citizens of Dallas are being asked to support a $1.5 billion bond in November that has very little benefit to the Southern Sector. The answer should be clear. Citizens should decide whether or not the due diligence has been given to make sure all communities are served through this initiative. Voting is the key to addressing the shortfall of any bond package. Dallas County Elections shows 1,277,177 registered voters as of September 2017. It is interesting to note that less than 4 percent of the voters are making decisions that impact our communities on most elections. Yes, there is always a method for including a project of this nature. It is interesting to note, every councilmember has received $10.5 million discretionary funds for this bond. Can you imagine the impact of this project if three or four of the Southern Sector councilmembers used their funds to finance it? To date, there does not seem to be any bond monies earmarked for the purchase of the Golf Club. It is up to the neighborhood to keep pressure on the councilmembers to represent their best interests.
The reflection of civil rights issues in Dallas alone should encourage the grassroots not to give up. The history of the Golf Club, formerly the Oak Cliff Country Club, is definitely a starting point. African Americans began to buy homes, some adjacent to the clubhouse, and still could not gain membership. The neighbors can have input on the R-5 Single Family Designation and the Special Use Permit granted to the Golf Club. The neighborhood can make it undergo a zoning change to accommodate the plans of the developer. The power of the people can determine the future of the project by engaging in communication with the councilmembers, including the mayorm and speaking at the zoning meeting before the Zoning and Planning Commission.
So where do we go from here? Local neighborhood volunteers have launched a campaign to “Save the Golf Club.” Support has been galvanizing to help the owner keep the business. Neighbors are being asked to take out memberships, support the restaurant and keep fighting. Some folks say they are sick and tired of hearing about the need to vote. The choice to remain silent, sit on the sidelines and not vote is a decision in and of itself. This community, young and old, has the power to make a change to fight apathy and complacency. I don’t know if the meeting at the Golf Club can be considered as a hole in one, but It is certainly would be worth it to stay in the game.
Carolyn King Arnold is the president of Oak Cliff Leadership Council and a former Dallas city councilmember.