Buckner Terrace Petition Against Using Timberlawn for Homeless Now Almost 1000 Signatures

As of 12:30 p.m. tonight, the petition started by Buckner Terrace resident Abbi Reynolds has expanded to 920 signatures and is quickly gaining speed. If Mayor Rawlings and the Dallas City Council chose to move ahead despite the protests of nearly 1,000 residents, I would think that would be political suicide, if not worse.

And after reading the comments on this petition, I have to agree with the neighborhood. At first blush when my City Councilman suggested it, I thought Timberlawn, because of it’s layout, would make a great homeless center — thinking more along the lines of a place where social and psychiatric services could be offered. And the price might be right: DCAD value is about $2.6

But no, no, no, for several solid reasons:

-The building is historical and should be preserved as a possible museum or cultural center. It could also be sold and made into a luxury hotel and conference center. Think I’m nuts? In June, we stayed at the Blackburn Inn in Staunton, Virgina, a luxury hotel converted from a mental institution. Built in 1828 by Thomas Jefferson’s architect as the nation’s second mental hospital, the  long-abandoned insane asylum and prison in Staunton was known as the Western State Lunatic Asylum and not an easy renovation: it took 12 years for the 33,000 square foot property but the developers are moving forward to add condos, apartments, helipads, and restored houses. Bathrooms were gorgeous (vessel tubs!) and we slept very very well, thank you.

-Buckner Terrace is experiencing real estate transformation –gentrification- and filling Timberlawn with homeless could stop or even reverse the transformation. This would not be fair to the homeowners. As one resident said: “This location is not conducive for the proposed shelter due to lack of adequate job training, educational, and rehabilitative facilities. Such a shelter in this neighborhood at this time would not benefit the neignorhood, nor it’s residents. Our neighborhood has seen positive transformation and development. I strongly suggest a more suitable location closer to th3 social services, mental services, transportation and job training, At his stage, our residential neighborhood is not the appropriate location for a shelter.”

Bathroom at The Blackburn Inn, a former insane asylum and prison

– Timberlawn is apparently close to two elementary schools as well as Skyline High School: “We have two elementary schools and Skyline High School close to Timberlawn, so if you pass this obscene suggestion, then hire police to actually stay at the schools.” (With our police shortage?)

– Historic structures and older buildings ARE hard to maintain:  “Not a good use of resources. Historic structures cost too much to maintain and are not built for mass traffic and wear”

– And Timberlawn is not near the social services the homeless need: “It just doesn’t make sense in this residential neighborhood. Public transportation is minimal at best. (One bus line). There are not many businesses for job opportunities. Residents would have difficulty getting to and leaving from the area. A location with more businesses, adequate transportation, and a higher number of social services makes more sense.”

Therein lies the problem: social services are concentrated in downtown Dallas, and the Parkland area, ,thus that is where homeless tend to congregate though some are now camping around the city, such as at Forest Lane and North Central Expressway, as I saw earlier. 

Homeless experts tell me we have to create smaller homeless centers around the city, spread the problem out to get a solution. So really, each District should kick in a preferred building to do just that. Kevin Felder’s idea of abandoned DISD schools is good, but I’m still leaning towards Dawson Jail. Or Parkland:

Nicole Barnett·4 days ago
I work in the hospital district. The homeless population there is very high with the Salvation Army shelter where most of the homeless sleep on the street/sidewalks right outside the building. It got so bad it closed the old Rusty Taco down and is causing the 7-11 to lose business. This is not what you want for the old Timberlawn area. It’s not safe for those who have little ones to be around the type of behavior that these individuals show. There are no major bus lines or ease of access to the train from the Timberlawn location so the homeless would be less likely to go out and look for work. Yes the homeless need help but not in a residential area with no access to public transportation.

In the meantime, know if you buy a home in the vicinity of any social service agencies, chances are you will have homeless people in your ‘hood.