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The Truth behind the Scenes

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Dear Nancy,

This letter is in response to the recent article titled “Emotions run high over parking plans” [White Rock Lake Weekly, Vol. 3, No 47].

As many readers may be aware, emotions of concern and disappointment also are running high in the Jubilee Park Community, regarding Dallas ISD's plans to remove families and place a parking lot interspersed with homes and open, treeless lots, or in other words, creating a checkerboard community.

Our neighborhood, like many, is a place we Americans know well, vibrantly filled with families, trees and children. However, all remaining evidence of what stood before in our beloved community has been erased, replaced with empty lots. Soon, Dallas ISD will move in with more devastation and heavy equipment, removing the trees in order to drill 300-feet deep geo-thermal wells and to pave a satellite parking lot. Some trees took root long before the houses were built in Jubilee Park. These trees are the very foundation of our community and they are living witnesses to the history of our neighborhood. The additional daily traffic will negatively change the quality of life, the current land use pattern, and the overall structure of a well-established and cherished residential community. Sadly, families who would have relocated to our area will now be forced to go elsewhere because of the checkerboard community DISD has created.

In my last update, DISD obtained re-zoning approval to construct the parking lot and to drill the geo-thermal wells, only after a veiled threat that the Dallas ISD would file a lawsuit against the city, so some preferred to take the path of least resistance. You may recall that O.M. Roberts was renovated in 2005 only to be demolished in August 2011 and in January 2012. The Dallas ISD Board voted to close it, due to below student enrollment. The controversial issue led Mayor Mike Rawlings to inform the citizens of Dallas that he would continue to work with the affected community and just last month Dallas ISD's Board President Lew Blackburn promised to review alternative solutions that would avoid intrusion into the community. Experts confirm that this is not an impossible goal for DISD to achieve. The solutions would accomplish re-building the recently closed O.M. Roberts Elementary, keeping our children safe within the school grounds, as well as keeping our well-established community intact.

So, with new hope for the community, architects Brent Brown and Peter Brown graciously took on the enormous challenge with a commitment to improve the environment in which we live, work and play. Their project took into consideration the character and history of an urban community as well as preservation of a community that has been living in unison with O.M. Roberts for years.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that Mayor Rawlings and Board President Blackburn raised hopes with phantom promises. In the end, the decision was to bow out of working with the community and dismiss the innovative ideas provided by the architects. In this life lesson we were taught that our elected officials have become masters of slippery promises while children are placed in jeopardy and teachers and custodians are given the pink slip. This unpleasant and painful experience was caused by an entity that teaches respect, honesty and integrity. In fact, displayed at DISD’s headquarters is a list of Commitments. Commitment #7 reads: “Support partnerships with community for achieving excellence.”

As we confront the future, the time has come when the page must be turned, and as we turn that page we are guided by a shining light of peace and comfort and draw inspiration from knowing that we are a strong and proud community, consisting of residents who have survived a great depression, multiple recessions, and various forms of racism. Some of our residents have proudly walked to Washington, D.C. to fight for their beliefs and to hold onto their rights, and others have served our great country. It is because of these families and their strength, beliefs and sacrifices that we remain in a free country and in our homes – our American Dream.

The last three years have been interesting and challenging, but we have also been fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with many caring and talented individuals, like the team of architects and arborists who recently stepped in to help our cause. The architects confirm that a sub-urban cookie-cutter approach, which is what Dallas ISD is proposing in our community, will negatively alter the special qualities of established communities and schools. So, today, I'm asking the readers to please help us keep up the fight. Not sure where to start? Try contacting your local, state and DISD representatives. Our community has fallen victim to DISD's unstable plans and we have lost a historic school, neighbors and friends. The truth is that this tragedy could happen to your own community. Together we can make a difference for generations to come!

Kind Regards,

Norma Hernandez

Read more: White Rock Lake Weekly – LETTER TO THE EDITOR SAVE OUR SCHOOLS

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