Council members Oakley, Garcia holding first public presentation of plan developed during annual retreat
The Dallas City Council’s strategic plan for the city will get its first public airing on Monday evening at a community meeting in Oak Cliff hosted by council members Ed Oakley and Dr. Elba Garcia.
Oakley said a majority of the council along with top city managers would attend the presentation and be available for questions from the audience. Development plans for the southern sector and other parts of the city will be discussed, he said.
About a dozen developers are expected to be on hand with illustrations of their projects. Oakley plans to play a video outlining development plans produced by the Dallas Citizen’s Council.
City Manager Mary Suhm will deliver an opening statement outlining the five priorities the council established for the city in 2004.
Five assistant city managers will follow with discussions about public safety, economic development, neighborhood quality of life, city staff accountability, customer service and the Trinity River Corridor development project.
Oakley said city officials want feedback from the audience about the plans.
“It will be held right after the council’s planning retreat,” Oakley said. “The professional staff will be able to talk about the direction the city is going and the priorities that have been set.”
The council began its annual planning retreat with city staff on Thursday at the Arboretum.
The retreat usually is a one-day event, but it was expanded to two days this year.
Oakley said he and Garcia began planning the meeting in November after becoming frustrated with difficulties they encountered in informing residents of progress the city is making.
“A number of us have talked about the message that is coming out of City Hall,” Oakley said.
“All of the positive things are being clouded by things that are negative. There is just so much that is happening, and no one knows about it.”
Mayor Laura Miller said she thinks Oakley’s and Garcia’s meetings with constituents are a good idea. She noted that the council set the city’s top five priorities for the next five years two years ago.
“The city manager is now recommending that we allocate our finite resources based on those five priorities, and next year’s budget will be our first opportunity to do so,” Miller said.
“I think it is great that council members are having town hall meetings to discuss the results of our decision-making with their constituents. There is a lot of money at stake here,” she continued.
The council is proposing a 2006 bond package for municipal improvements that would be in the billion-dollar or more range and the highest ever undertaken in Dallas.
Oakley said he expects other council members to follow suit and hold similar presentations in their districts,
“We are all frustrated about how we can get our message out that there is a lot of good things happening in the city,” Oakley said.
Garcia said she sees significant value in holding the district discussions.
“Residents can ask questions directly of the people who are in charge of our district’s programs and activities,” said Garcia in a statement announcing the meeting. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Oakley said one of the biggest developments underway in the southern sector is near the Pinnacle Park Industrial Park near Loop 12 and I-30.
The plans call for a 170-acre park that will include a soccer competition complex, park trails and the city’s largest unleashed dog park.
“It’s just exciting,” Oakley said. “There are a lot of things happening. I could talk for 30 minutes about the things that are in the works.”
The meeting will be held at the Hitt Auditorium of Methodist Dallas Medical Center on Monday at 6:30 p.m. It is located at 1441 N. Beckley Ave. in North Oak Cliff. The parking entrance is at the intersection of Bishop and Colorado streets.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 20, 2006.