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DISD’S Little Park of Horrors


By Diane Hughes

A number of residents and business owners in East Dallas have been involved in an eminent domain dispute with the Dallas Independent School District for about 6 months now and boy do they want to know what ride DISD has them on and how the heck do they get off!  What started out as a Merry-Go-Round, somewhere along the way morphed into a Runaway Train, and it has now become something more akin to the Fun House. 

DISD’s plan for those land lovers in East Dallas seems to have a lot of very expensive holes in it, but its message remains clear – nothing is what it seems.

For example, at various town hall meetings and a recent DISD board meeting, DISD board members have been assuring the concerned residents who attend to protest DISD’s sketchy plans and misuse of eminent domain that, yes, yes, they are diligently checking into where that $2.6 million in renovation costs went to, and, heck yeah, they are working on finding out exactly what DISD’s plans are for the exemplary and historic O.M. Roberts Elementary school and why DISD needs to utilize eminent domain to achieve those plans – but, no, no, they don’t have anything to disclose yet.  No details to talk about here.  So, thanks for coming; enjoy your parting gift of “we don’t know nothin’.”  Oh, and enjoy that new tax bill as well when it arrives.

Yet across town at a separate meeting, on the exact same evening the residents and business owners are being told there are no specific plans to talk about, DISD representative Phil Jimerson and O.M.’s current Principal Zulema Ortiz eagerly announced that DISD will be converting a big chunk of land they intend on seizing into a parking lot.  Is that right, now?  A parking lot.  This “plan” just gets better and better.  Does one hand even know what the other is doing over at DISD?  Instead of being advised about this important new development, the folks protesting down at the board meeting get blatant lip service.  Certainly, the residents and business owners who stand to lose their homes and businesses to this joy ride of a plan deserve better than that.

In fact, the whole lack of disclosure and game playing on DISD’s part makes one wonder if DISD’s offer to have a six month postponement is nothing more than an attempt to ride out the storm of its frustrated voters who are not happy with DISD’s abuse of eminent domain and its misleading plans for the community.  But thanks for the smoke and mirrors in plain sight, guys.  The community is taking note that perhaps the only way to get off DISD’s ride is to shut it down – and then do their own kind of rebuilding when it comes time to vote.


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