Halloween Block Party sees record attendance; future Cedar Springs events to require fencing

We’ve posted photos and video from Saturday night’s Halloween Block Party on Cedar Springs, but we also had some pretty major news to share.

About 12,000 people attended this year’s Block Party, according to police estimates, up from roughly 8,000 in 2009. DISD Detective Sgt. Jeremy Liebbe, co-operations commander for the block party, said when he first began working the event eight years ago, attendance was only about 4,000.

While some don’t appreciate the apparent influx of non-LGBT people to the block party, Liebbe said he thinks it’s actually a good thing for the community. However, he added that the increasing crowd size presents some safety issues, and authorities likely will require future block parties on Cedar Springs to be fenced.

“It’s good for the businesses, it’s good for the economy of the community, but that does create some added public safety issues that we have to stay ahead of the game on,” Liebbe said, adding that local authorities can apply lessons they’ve learned from larger events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Greenville Avenue.

Liebbe said all future block parties on Cedar Springs, including arts festivals, likely will require fencing. He said the fencing is inexpensive at only a few hundred dollars, but it will allow authorities to create a handful of checkpoints where people can enter and leave. In addition to controlling crowd size if necessary, they can stop people from bringing in alcohol in glass containers, coolers and backpacks, which is illegal.

“It’s all about what we can do to increase the safety and enjoyment of everyone who’s coming to the events,” Liebbe said, adding that many people purchase alcohol at places like Walgreen’s and Valero, not realizing they’re not supposed to bring it in. “Our biggest concern right now is the glass and the risk of injury.”

Liebbe said the fenced area for Cedar Springs block parties likely will extend from Reagan Street to just west of Woody’s, and possibly beyond ilume for some events. He said there are no plans to charge admission for people to enter the fenced area.

“It’s going to be as invisible as we can make it,” Liebbe said of the fencing. “We’re going to use the natural barriers.”

Liebbe said there are no plans to fence off the area during the Pride parade, although there is some talk of fencing Lee Park during the Pride festival.

Despite the huge crowd at this year’s block party, there were only five arrests, Liebbe said — two for assault, one for theft and two for public intoxication. Liebbe credited strong cooperation from the community combined with good work by officers for the small number of incidents.

“The problems are historically very, very low at that event,” he said.

—  John Wright

UPDATED: Man robbed at gunpoint just 1 block from strip; suspects make off with $500 in cash

Between the shooting of Doug Tull and another holdup last week on Travis Street, it sure seems as though there’s been a rash of gun-involved robberies targeting gay bar patrons of late.

The most recent robbery occurred at 10:15 p.m. Friday at 4000 Dickason Ave., which is at the intersection of Reagan Street, just one block from the Cedar Springs strip.

The suspects pointed a gun at the 21-year-old white male victim and demanded his property, before making off with $500 in cash and a cell phone valued at $500, according to police reports.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said Tuesday that no arrests have been made in the case. The suspects are described as two Latin males in their 20s, Janse said. One is about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and was wearing a white shirt at the time of the robbery.

“There is no evidence that links this to any other robberies in the area,” Janse said.

UPDATE: The victim, who asked not to be identified, said he had walked around the corner from JR.’s  to retrieve his keys from a friend’s car that was parked on Dickason Avenue. He said he was leaning into the car when the two suspects came out of nowhere and put a gun to his head.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, are they going to shoot me? Is this a hate crime or am I about to get mugged?’” he said. “I had no idea what was going on. It was the quickest thing ever, but I’ve never been more scared in my life.”

The victim, who’s gay, said he thinks bars in the area need to do a better job of making it safe.

“I really feel like the bars need to step up their game,” he said. “They need to invest in the people who spend the money, and they need to protect them.”

As he was running back to JR’s, the victim said he saw one of the suspects fleeing behind Woody’s and notified a security guard. “The security guard wouldn’t do anything. He told me I needed to chill out.”

The victim said he was carrying a large amount of cash because he was in a fender bender earlier in the day and had been unable to go to the bank.

“I was alone. It was stupid,” he said, adding that the suspects must have thought they hit the lottery. “I would never even think that that area would be a safety issue.”

The victim said he doesn’t plan to go back to the area anytime soon.

“You just have to be careful, especially with the whole gay Pride thing coming up,” he said. “It’s just scary. I don’t even know how it happened. It’s kind of like a dream, a bad, bad dream — a nightmare.”

—  John Wright

Young Stonewall wants to ‘Light Up Oak Lawn’

Political group seeks money from grants and other sources to fund lighting safety program for entertainment district

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Brian Stout
Brian Stout

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats this week unveiled their new effort to make Oak Lawn safer by improving lighting in the area.

DSYD announced the “Light Up the Night” campaign during a meet on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at JR.’s Bar & Grill, explaining that the group plans to raise money to add lighting to the neighborhood bounded by Oak Lawn, Maple, Wycliff and Lemmon avenues, according to DSYD Communications Director Michael Maldonado.

The Cedar Springs area is included in one of the Dallas Police Department’s 26 Target Action Area Grids. Last year that TAAG recorded the third-most violent crimes in the city.

Reported violent crimes in the area have decreased considerably this year.

Latisha McDaniel, who lives on Hall Street in Oak Lawn, was one of those attending the meeting. She said poor lighting is a real problem for residents.

“It’s scary to walk alone because it’s so poorly lit,” McDaniel said.

Several holdups in the neighborhood were mentioned, including an incident in which two people were robbed near the Seville apartments on Reagan Street, and another in which three people were held up in front of an apartment behind the CVS Pharmacy on Lemmon Avenue.

David Richardson, who owns Skivvies and has had other stores along Cedar Springs over the past for 30 years and was among the founders of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said he has seen “huge improvements” in Oak Lawn over the years.

He said safety has always been a concern and recalled when prostitutes were a common sight along Cedar Springs Road and drug dealers and hustlers hung out on the streets behind the bars. He attended the meeting and said he is delighted with DSYD’s efforts.

“I’m glad to see another group step up to help us,” he said.

DSYD President Pennington Ingley said the group looked at studies from around the United States and Great Britain that showed that crime decreased in neighborhoods when lighting improved.

One concern was that crime would simply move from the newly-well-lit streets to other nearby streets. But Ingley said that the studies showed that improved lighting in one area has a positive effect on neighboring areas as well.

Ingley said that despite police statistics that show a decrease in crime in the area this year, he hasn’t seen any improvement in the four years he has lived on Reagan Street.

“People walk in complete darkness on Reagan Street from the Seville to Cedar Springs,” he said.

He joked that there is a solution, which is why they named the project “Light Up Oak Lawn” rather than “Stop the Muggings.”

Vice President Brian Stout said that the board walked every street in the area to map every working streetlight.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to how they’re laid out,” Stout said.

DSYD Political Director Jennifer Allen said the group also studied what lights to purchase and how to fund the project.

“We need 200 to 350 more lights to have adequate lighting in the area,” she said.

She said they recommended low-sodium LED lighting that would cost $1,000 to $1,500 per unit. Fully funding the project could cost $.5 million.

Allen said there were cheaper alternatives to getting the streets lit sooner that used bulbs. But those bulbs would burn out sooner and use more electricity.

She added that DSYD are exploring several sources of funding including economic development grants, money from foundations, neighborhood developers and government grants. Members have spoken to Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt about working with city grant writers to help obtain the money.

At the meeting, DSYD members acknowledged the city’s tight budget situation. While they expected the city to back the plan, they said did not expect the council to vote money to help pay for it.

Michael Milliken is active with the Oak Lawn Committee, which deals with zoning issues in the area. He extended an offer to work with DSYD, especially with helping them make contacts in City Hall.

DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce said that getting grants would take some time but that the group hopes the project can be completed within two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Readers Voice Awards – Travel


RIGHT AT HOME: Owner Wayne Falcone polished a gem of Oak Lawn history by rescuing and reinventing the Daisy Polk House. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice

BEST BED AND BREAKFAST


Daisy Polk Inn
2917 Reagan St., Dallas.
214-522-4692
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs.
Daisy Suite and Reagan Suite: $150 a night.
Dickason Suite: $129 a night.
DaisyPolkInn.com

The Daisy Polk Inn is every bit the grand dame that its namesake was. Built in 1904 and fully restored by 2002, the home was first owned by, who else, Daisy Polk — an “up and coming” star (according to the Dallas Press) of the Dallas opera scene who also taught at Hockaday School for Girls and passed away in 1980.

She lived at the Reagan Street address for 60 years. The gorgeous arts and crafts home now belongs to local pharmacist Wayne Falcone, who purchased the property in 1996. He lovingly restored it to its natural and historically correct beauty with the help of Dallas antiques expert and interior designer Gerald Tomlin.

Once the home was granted historical status and licensure to become a bed and breakfast, Falcone decided to open its doors to the public.

Guests can rent any one of the three rooms or the whole place if they prefer. Unlike typical B&Bs. Falcone turns over the keys to his guests, and they have the place to themselves until morning, when breakfast is served. And breakfast at the Daisy Polk Inn is no simple affair. From the china to the home-baked goodies, it is a lavish meal that guests won’t soon forget.

— Jenny Block

 



BEST ROMANTIC GETAWAY
New Orleans, La.
Convention and Visitor’s Bureau:
NewOrleansCVB.com
Visitor’s bureau LGBT focus:
NewOrleansOnline GLBT

 

A little more than two years ago, most of America seemed to have written off New Orleans — it was destined to become a modern-day Atlantis, swallowed up by the sea and passed away into legend.

But the residents of the Crescent City would have none of that. They persevered, rehabilitating the city as quickly as possible and welcoming back tourists — especially gay tourists — with enthusiasm. (It helps that the French Quarter, the center of gay life, is above sea-level and was largely spared when the levees broke.)

Certainly bachelor revelers into great partying and easy hookups don’t have to find a reason to frequent the Big Easy other than Mardi Gras and Southern Decadence, but the city’s old antebellum charm makes it a romantic getaway for couples, too.

For exploring together, there’s the fabulous architecture, much of it spared from the hurricane: elaborate wrought iron, ethereal churches, sprawling plantations on the outskirts (including one, Houmas House, where “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” was filmed).

Then there’s the food, an essential component whenever lovers get together. Creole and Cajun cuisine, from rich cream sauces to spices that can shoot steam from your ears, dominate, but the French influences extend all the way to the café au lait and beignets. And is there anything more romantic than a boat ride along the Mighty Mississip?

So yes, New Orleans is a great party town for solos, but we love to go there as pairs. After all, even couples know how to party.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 


BEST AIRLINE
American Airlines
Corporate headquarters: 4333 Amon Carter Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas.
817-963-1234, 800-321-2121
Mon.-Sat. 24 hrs.
aa.com or American Airlines Rainbow

 


BEST NATIONAL ONLINE TRAVEL SITE
Travelocity
Corporate headquarters: 3150 Sabre Drive, Southlake, Texas.
888-872-8356
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs.
Travelocity.com

BEST LOCAL ONLINE TRAVEL SITE
Best Gay Cruises
P.O. Box 59994, Dallas.
972-241-2000
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
BestGayCruises.com


BEST BUDGET HOTEL CHAIN
La Quinta
Corporate headquarters: 909 Hidden Ridge, Suite 600, Irving, Texas.
800-642-4271
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs.
LQ.com


BEST LUXURY HOTEL CHAIN
Hilton Hotels
Eight hotels in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
800-774-1500
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs.
Hilton.com


BEST DALLAS HOTEL
W Dallas-Victory
2440 Victory Park Lane, Dallas.
888-625-5144
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs.
WHotels.com/Dallas


BEST AIRPORT SHUTTLE SERVICE
SuperShuttle
SuperShuttle local office: 3010 N. Airfield Drive, Suite 100, DFW Airport, Texas.
With service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas Love Field and Fort Worth Meacham International Airport.
800-258-3826
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs.
SuperShuttle.com

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY
Rainbow Ranch
1662 Limestone County Road 800, Groesbeck, Texas.
888-875-7596
Sun.-Thu. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.,
Fri.-Sat. 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
RainbowRanch.net

BEST LOCAL TOURIST DESTINATION
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
411 Elm St., Suite 120.
214-747-6660
Tue.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.,
Mon. noon-6 p.m.
JFK.org

BEST LOCAL TOURIST TRAP
West End Historical District
214-741-7180
DallasWestEnd.org

BEST VACATION SPOT TO GET LAID
Palm Springs, Calif.
Palm Springs tourism bureau:
Palm-Springs.org


BEST EXOTIC DESTINATION
Hawaii
Official tourism site: GoHawaii.com

‘GET ME OUT OF HERE!’ DESTINATION
Jamaica
Visitor Web site: ComeToJamaica.com

These articles appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 21, 2008

—  admin