Scott Whittall steps down as ED of Cedar Springs Merchant Association

Scott Whittall

Cedar Springs Merchant Association Executive Director Scott Whittall announced his resignation Thursday effective Jan. 1.

Whittall sent out an email to the association highlighting its many accomplishments since its creation in 2006.

“My dedication and allegiance to our neighborhood and community will remain strong and I will continue to support this amazing organization and group of merchants who I sincerely regard as dear friends and colleagues,” he wrote.

Whittall, who has served as the executive director form the beginning, tells Instant Tea he planned to leave last year when he sold his business on the strip, Buli. But the board convinced him to stay on in his role for another year.

“Not really being a merchant, it seemed odd to be the executive director of a merchant association,” he said.

Time is also a factor in why he is leaving. Having purchased an imports business in July, in addition to a cattle business he and his partner oversee, he said he’s out of the country a lot and doesn’t have time to dedicate to the association anymore. However, he’ll still be involved in a supporting role in the community, he said.

CSMA board Chairman David Richarson will be in charge until the board decides whether or not to select another executive director, Whittall said.

Read Whittall’s full email announcing his resignation below.

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas wraps up June Pride series

The panel, from left: Roger Poindexter, Lorie Burch, Scott Whittall, the Rev. Dawson Taylor, Harold Steward, Cece Cox, Pastor Jon Haack and David Fisher. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

The city of Dallas wrapped up its LGBT Pride Month celebration Wednesday with a discussion of how the LGBT community has enriched the city.

A seven-member panel moderated by Fahari Arts Institute founder Harold Steward discussed the contributions their LGBT organizations have made to Dallas over the years and where they envision Dallas in the future. They then took questions from the handful of people in attendance.

The event in the City Hall Flag Room was the last event in the city’s Pride series “Honor, Educate and Celebrate.”

Panelists included Resource Center Dallas CEO and Executive Director Cece Cox, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Executive Director Scott Whittall, Turtle Creek Chorale Executive Director David Fisher, GBLT Chamber of Commerce board member Lorie Burch, Lambda Legal South Central Region Executive Director Roger Poindexter, Cathedral of Hope Executive Minister the Rev. Dawson Taylor and Promise Metropolitan Community Church senior Pastor Jon Haack.

City Council was in executive session so members could not attend, but Councilwoman Delia Jasso stepped out to speak briefly about her pride in the LGBT Task Force for planning great events over the last four weeks. Councilman Scott Griggs also stopped by the Flag Room and spoke briefly. The series began with a kickoff followed by conversations about city services and out officials. Jasso expressed a desire to have another celebration next June and promised it would be “bigger and better.”

While many of the organizations began as a way of welcoming the LGBT community with safe havens to worship, gain access to HIV/AIDS care and enjoy a safe evening out or unbiased legal council, the panel focused on how far Dallas has grown over the decades and how spread out the LGBT community has become. The days have passed where members of the LGBT community only live near Cedar Springs and the only bar patrons along the entertainment strip are gay.

Instead, the LGBT community and its businesses have integrated into Dallas while still maintaining a focus on their original customers, Whittall said. Even religious organizations have grown in attendance with allies who no longer find a barrier between spirituality and sexuality, but Taylor added that the next step is working from being a community that is tolerated to one that is accepted and celebrated.

Task Force member Pam Gerber closed the event by expressing how proud she was to have a June Pride celebration and welcomed input for next year’s events. She said that while the community is working toward acceptance, she “just wants to be.”

“I want to be nothing extraordinary, nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “I just want to be.”

Suggestions for next year’s Pride can be made to Councilwoman Delia Jasso at 214-670-4052.

—  Dallasvoice

Cedar Springs Arts Fest grows in size, popularity; Merchants Association unveils new logo for strip

Cedar Springs Merchants Association dons a T-shirt bearing the street's new logo during Saturday's Art Festival. More photos from the event below.

The Cedar Springs Arts Festival on Saturday was very successful, but Cedar Springs Merchants Association Executive Director Scott Whittall said he expects next year’s event to be much larger.

Whittall said that this year’s date conflicted with an art and jazz fest in Denton. The date planned for 2013 doesn’t conflict with other art festivals and additional artists have already indicated interest. He said that April is a busy time for art festivals before the weather warmed up. The previous weekend was the Main Street Arts Fair in Fort Worth.

Artists and crafts designers who exhibited at the Cedar Springs Arts Festival agreed that this year’s event was a success.

“We’ll be back,” artist Marco Saucedo said. “We heard about it in past years and this year decided to sign.”

By mid-afternoon, a number of paintings in Saucedo’s booth had sold signs on them.

While most of the tents displayed art, others included a variety of crafts, jewelry, businesses, upcoming events and even a dog rescue.

—  David Taffet

Here’s your chance to design the new logo for ‘The Strip on Cedar Springs’

A logo currently in use by the Cedar Springs Merchants Association.

The Cedar Springs Merchant Association has announced plans for a bold new marketing campaign, which includes a new look and new logo for “The Strip on Cedar Springs.”

Logo submissions will be accepted by the CSMA through March 15. The winner and new logo will be unveiled at the 2012 CSMA Easter in the Park Celebration on April 8.

“We are seeking a logo that encompasses the diversity, colorful history and welcoming spirit of the best entertainment district in Texas, The Strip on Cedar Springs,” said CSMA Executive Director Scott Whittall.

The Merchants Association would like to market the area with one clear identity. Since Crossroads Market closed several years ago, Whitall said more people call the area The Strip rather than The Crossroads.

He said that all logos should include “The Strip on Cedar Springs” within the design.

More info below:

—  David Taffet

Atmos construction on Cedar Springs begins Monday

The Cedar Springs Merchants Association reported that Atmos Energy’s street construction on Cedar Springs Road will begin on Monday, Oct. 17.

Association president Scott Whittall said that the work that was originally scheduled for two weeks and would not have been completed in time for the parade is now scheduled to be completed in two or three days.

“We have worked closely with Atmos to shorten the length of construction time,” Whittall said. 

Most of the parking on Cedar Springs Road between Reagan and Throckmorton streets will be blocked daily during construction times from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be available evenings and early mornings. CSMA is working to make sure signs are posted directing daytime customers to the parking back parking lots.

—  David Taffet

Cedar Springs construction postponed

Cedar Springs Road

Earlier this week, merchants on Cedar Springs were told that traffic would be disrupted for two weeks because of installation of new gas pipes. That construction has been postponed until after Pride.

“Great news!” wrote Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall. “The street closure planned by Atmos Energy has been postponed to Sept. 26.”

The construction was to have closed two lanes of traffic and eliminated all street parking while work progressed. Instead, Whittall reported that the work will be done in sections so that parking will not be blocked for two weeks.

Calls to Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano made the difference, Whittall said. In addition to the loss of business during construction, merchants were worried that work would drag on longer than the announced two weeks and interfere with the Pride Parade on Sept. 18.

Whittall said that the delay gives merchants time to post signs warning of the closure and direct customers to alternate places to park. The closure should not affect evening or weekend business. Whittall said that weekday customers are used to parking in front of the businesses. He expects merchants along the street to offer “construction discounts” during the utility repairs.

—  David Taffet

Merchants say they didn’t get ample notice about Cedar Springs construction, fear impact on Pride

Scott Whittall

Atmos Energy will tear up Cedar Springs Road from Throckmorton Street to Oak Lawn Avenue to install new gas lines beginning Monday, Aug. 22.

Two lanes of traffic will be closed. All parking on the street will be blocked. Construction should last two weeks.

Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall said five days notice was not enough time to notify customers about the construction.

He contacted City Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano to ask that the construction be delayed until after Pride, which is Sept. 18. He said his fear is that the work will drag on for a month or more.

He also said that with more notice, the merchants on Cedar Springs would have had time to remind weekday customers who are used to parking in front that there is parking behind the stores and bars. And with more notice, merchants could plan events and specials that would encourage customers to continue shopping on the street during construction.

“The last time we had major construction on the street, they closed the bridge over the tollway for 13 months and four businesses went out of business,” Whittall said.

He wants to be more prepared this time — even if the closure is only for a couple of weeks.

The construction will pass in front of the firehouse and could affect response times if it takes more time to maneuver equipment out of the station and around the construction.

—  David Taffet

Razzle Dazzle Dallas called ‘a home run’

Organizers thrilled with attendance, expect big sums for beneficiaries

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

More than 10,000 people filled Cedar Springs Road for the Razzle Dazzle Dallas Main Event on June 4, according to organizers who said they had no way of knowing how well people would respond to the revival of the party that was last held in 2003.

“You just never know when you’re throwing a party,” said Razzle Dazzle Dallas President John Cooper-Lara.

Cooper-Lara said despite all the planning for the event, the board wasn’t sure whether people would show up. Cooper-Lara also serves president of the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, the beneficiary of Friday night’s MetroBall at Station 4. Although he didn’t have final figures he said the night set a record for the event.

“Deborah Cox was over the top,” he said. “And we were up in every category — ticket sales, silent auction, pre-event sales.”

He said GDMAF should be able to provide more assistance than ever as a result.

The fund steps in to help financially when other AIDS agencies can’t, meeting needs such as rent, medical co-payments and emergency utility assistance for low-income people living with AIDS.

Before final returns were counted, Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall said he was delighted with attendance. He said since all costs were covered in advance by sponsors, any money taken at the door in donations, at the booths and in beer sales goes to the beneficiaries.

Normally Dallas police estimate crowd size, but LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin said they didn’t get an estimate on Saturday night, June 4.

Although the street was blocked, admission was free and no one was counting the number who came through the gates.

The five-day event ended with a final party at the Brick, where Mr. and Miss Razzle Dazzle Dallas were chosen.

Gerald Alexander Paige and Weezie Davis were the winners and will end their year’s reign by performing at next year’s event.

The first runners-up were Kenny Bramlett and Vanessa Styles.

Lara-Cooper said the week’s events were more successful than the board expected.

“I think we hit a home run,” said Lara-Cooper.

—  John Wright

CSMA brings back outdoor movie screenings

I received the e-mail last night that the Cedar Springs Merchant Association Outdoor Movie Series is up and running again. The screenings begin again this Thursday with In & Out as the first screening.

Here’s the official scoop from CSMA president Scott Whittall.

Outdoor movies will be shown on the TMC Patio each Thursday night throughout the summer. Showtime is whenever it is dark (this week approximately 8 p.m.). And remember, the movie is FREE to all!! We show the movie rain or shine (inside TMC if it rains)..  Black Eyed Pea is on hand to take food orders and there is plenty of free popcorn for everyone.

—  Rich Lopez

Cedar Springs crosswalk saga continues

crosswalk

Back in December I reported that the city of Dallas was finally repairing the crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Reagan Street, as shown in the above photo. So you can imagine my surprise last week when I heard that only a few of the roughly 20 pavement-level lights in the crosswalk are actually working. I immediately put a call in to Alex Wong, senior program manager for traffic field operations at the city, who explained that the crosswalk was indeed repaired in December. Unfortunately, when the repairs were made, it was discovered that additional lights had stopped working, Wong said. Now, the city is waiting for more replacement lights to arrive from the Canadian vendor that supplies them. He said the remainder of the new lights should be installed in the next few weeks.

If you’ll remember, the crosswalk has been broken since the spring of 2009, when a crew mistakenly sawed through the wires leading to the lights during some sort of street repair. The city later announced it would no longer fix the 5-year-old crosswalk, because it had become too expensive. However, under pressure from city councilmembers and nearby business owners, officials eventually changed their mind. Wong said as part of this whole process, the city considered replacing the crosswalk, which has continually failed over the years, with a better design. But officials determined that a replacement system would cost more than $30,000. He said the current repairs, including the new lights that are being shipped, will cost more than $10,000.

“We really got stuck with the current system because we just don’t have a large enough maintenance budget,” Wong said. “We’ll continue to do this type of itemized repair work. In a few years it probably will cost more than a total system replacement.”

Wong acknowledged that the crosswalk is likely to continue malfunctioning, and that the entire system inevitably needs to be replaced. Asked when that will finally happen, Wong said, “It depends on the economy. If the economy is good, the city will be able to provide us a little more maintenance budget.”

For business owners on the strip, the situation is frustrating, and they say it poses a safety threat to pedestrians. Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said business owners have discussed all sorts of potential solutions to the problem, including providing flags that pedestrians could carry across the street or recruiting a drag queen crossing guard.

“Maybe we should have a contest: Who can come up with the best idea for our crosswalk, to make it safer?” Whittall said. “There’s got to a be a solution that we can all put our heads together and come up with that will make this a safer crosswalk.”

—  John Wright