The historic Winnetka Heights neighborhood in North Oak Cliff had a big win this Wednesday at City Hall. The city’s thoroughfare plan was amended to take away the 12th St. Connector, knitting the neighborhood back together with parks and open space. It was a change 40 years in the making, with some of the original residents still part of the fight.

When cars became big in Oak Cliff and everywhere else, Tyler and Polk streets were made into a one-way couplet, and this connector, installed in 1967, allowed northbound traffic to reach West Jefferson Road by skipping the Jefferson St commercial core. More importantly it has allowed first responders (located at Polk and 12th streets) to access the neighborhood to the north more quickly.

The election of Dallas City Council member and mayoral hopeful Scott Griggs to the District 1 seat in 2011 is a big reason we’re seeing this change.

“The project got legs when Scott joined council” says Lee Ruiz, president of the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association. “He understands the new urbanist feel of how neighborhoods should be.”

Conversations began with City of Dallas staff and elected officials in 1981 when the neighborhood association formed and work began to dedicate the area as a Conservation District. But the project wasn’t a priority.

“Our neighborhood is known for its tenaciousness,” says Ruiz. (more…)

10-minute

The Farmers Branch Historical Park is home to numerous events year-round, including a vintage baseball tournament in the Spring (photo courtesy city of Farmers Branch).

Is your home a 10-minute (or less) walk from a park? One-third of Americans have a much longer trek than that to get to their nearest park, according to research by the National Recreation and Park Association, Urban Land Institute and, The Trust for Public Land.

Recently, Rachel Banner, a senior program manager at the NRPA, wrote a piece for the National Association of Realtors’ Spaces to Places blog about a year-long initiative to make more public spaces and parks available — within a 10-minute walk from every person.

Banner also talks about the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, which revealed that while residential and commercial developers may create amenities within their buildings or spaces, that’s not necessarily what creates a lifelong resident of a city.

“The report talks a lot about the growing demand for amenities in both office and residential development.  In the discussion about the report Owen Thomas, CEO of Boston Properties also remarked that while each year a new set of cities may be pegged for growth, we must look at how long those cities will remain “hot spots” and the places people stay long-term,” Ballard said. “While including amenities within a building may initially attract owners or tenants, it is the amenities outside of the building open to all that will get them to stay.” (more…)

ribbon cutting

Ribbon Cutting for the new playground at Griggs Park. Nolan Marshall stands with Katy Slade, Philip Kingston, Paul Simms and his daughter.

“Griggs Park is one of the features that makes Uptown more sustainable. Uptown has a tendency to over-invest in private infrastructure and under-invest in public infrastructure,”noted District 14 Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston at the Tuesday ribbon cutting of Griggs Park’s new playground. “This will soften the hard edges that tend to be created in high-density neighborhoods.” 

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Under the Houston St Viaduct. Taken by Amanda Popken

Kayaking Under the Houston St Viaduct, 2013. (Photo: Amanda Popken)

This Wednesday you’re invited to join a discussion about the Trinity.
A river that has defined our city for over a century.
Yet its place in our lives still remains little more than afterthought.

Millions of taxpayer dollars funded a very extensive plan:
To build, beautify, and manage this park — has anyone actually read it?
Years have passed applying for approvals, securing bonds, political wars, a design contest, expert opinions and decades later we have:
A few more trails, fewer trees, stunning bridges, and a death-defying rapid.

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trees

The Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, one of the gems of living in Oak Cliff.          Canine Model: Big Turkey

Oak Cliff covers about one third of Dallas, with a lot of variety throughout. You’re probably familiar with the small craftsman homes around Bishop Arts, the historic homesteads of Winnetka Heights, and the eclectic estates of the Kessler neighborhoods. A little further west near Hampton and south of Jefferson you’ll find many neighborhoods like the North Cliff Conservation District: adorable homes with classic architectural details and three key amenities close by.

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