News Around Our Neighborhood – February 2017

Courtesy of the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate, these news briefs are excerpted from stories originally published on lakewood.advocatemag.com.

160901025_DannyFulgencio_WhiteRockCreekTrail_EDC_690City parks put under patrol with six rangers to enforce the rules

Those of us who get perturbed when you see someone fail to clean up after their dog or litter in public parks might see some relief this year. The City of Dallas has reinstated its Park Rangers program, assigning six staff members to patrol its parks for added safety and to better enforce city laws.

“It’s all in an effort to support the Department’s mission by providing efficient and effective public safety, while fostering environmental stewardship,” Park and Recreation Director Willis Winters said in a statement.

 The six rangers and one supervisor will replace the three maintenance workers who currently carry the heavy task of keeping all of the city’s green spaces free of garbage, homeless encampments and rule-breakers. The rangers would be certified in CPR and other life-saving skills in case they need to assist the public in a medical emergency, but largely they would be charged with enforcing the often-unenforced rules of the city, like public alcohol consumption, ensuring special events in the parks follow city code and the newly passed ban on smoking, which goes into effect March 1. Last year, the city removed the large recycling bins from Tietze Park because they were so mis-used with illegal dumping.

It will mark a return to how to city used to manage its parks, the Parks and Recreation Department points out. The city first hired “park police” back in 1894 in an attempt to keep its bucolic spaces from of scofflaws. By the 1980s, the city employed 80 rangers to patrol its 23 parks daily from 8 a.m.-midnight. Then, during a cost-saving measure in 1986, the city council voted to consolidate the rangers with the Dallas Police Department, effectively eliminating the role.

 Most major cities in Texas have park rangers on staff — Austin has 24, while Houston has 37. The Parks and Recreation Department hope to find the funds needed to eventually add 10 bicycle patrol rangers as well as a citizen park patrol.

Last fall, we put the spotlight on our neighborhood’s trails, many of which run through city parks.

1601090054_DannyFulgencio_PrincLisaLovatoDanDRogersElem_EDLWhy does one of the best neighborhood schools lack neighborhood kids?

East Dallas has bragging rights to the best elementary school principal in Dallas ISD — Lisa Lovato of Dan D. Rogers — but only a tiny fraction of homeowners in the surrounding neighborhoods send their children to the school.

Instead, parents are sending their children to private, charter or other district schools, such as Robert E. Lee and Dealey Montessori. Only 7.7 percent of Rogers’ 518 students live in Ridgewood Park, University Meadows, Fisher Heights or North Hill homes and condos.

 “I don’t even have the opportunity to make an impact on the kids who never gave us a chance,” Lovato says. Lovato has spent the past six years navigating the shifting culture of the school, the changing demographics of the neighborhood and, most recently, the transition to a DISD “school of choice” in 2015. That’s when the school switched to a personalized learning curriculum approach, and subsequently, her students’ success skyrocketed. This past year, Rogers received all possible distinctions from the Texas Education Agency, meaning it performed better on mandated STAAR exams than peer campuses with similar demographics. The elementary school was one of 17 DISD schools that received this honor, and one of only eight non-magnet schools.
Read more here.

Screen-Shot-2017-01-24-at-11.08.23-AM Dreaded G-G-G intersection plans no longer include a roundabout

Get used to the phrase “reverse T design” — you’re about to hear it a lot. It’s the preferred choice for how to improve the accident-prone Garland-Grand-Gaston intersection, at least by those who attended meetings last year to consider different options that would improve safety.The proposed plan makes minimal changes to the existing intersection — all designed to slow down the flow of traffic. Instead of the existing straight shot, which often allows drivers to pick up speed, Garland and Grand, a.k.a. State Highway 78, would be gently arced with new landscaping.

 “The geometry will encourage traffic to slow down, which will provide a safer environment compared to current conditions,” says Michelle Raglon, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation(TxDOT), which is overseeing the project since it includes a state roadway.
Read more here.

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