Lake Highlands residents are hopeful neighborhood concerns will remain on the front burner when the new City Council is sworn in this month for a two-year term.
Their wish lists are pretty basic, neighborhood and business leaders agree: Continued emphasis on crime control, swift response to code enforcement complaints, easy access to council members, and street and sidewalk repairs.
Those issues received prominent play during the election campaigns this spring in District 9, even though incumbent Donna Halstead was unopposed for re-election.
Peggy Hill, a member of the Lake Highlands Home Owners Association, says leadership on the City Council has helped reduce the crime rate in Lake Highlands. She credits Halstead’s response to residents’ crime complaints, specifically regarding some of the older apartment buildings in the area.
Issues relating to aging apartment complexes create a number of concerns, such as the high concentration of tenants receiving rental assistance. Lake Highlands home owners do not oppose those tenants, but Hill says housing officials must broaden the use of rental assistance vouchers to apartments throughout Dallas, rather than concentrating them in older neighborhoods.
“You can’t just dump them in Northeast Dallas because we have a bunch of old apartment buildings,” she says.
Responsiveness to code violation complaints is vital. “They’ve got to enforce the codes on these apartments – one family to an apartment,” Hill says. “It seems like for years the City allowed these apartments to be built out here, and now they’re not making them maintain them.”
Council members also should take a leadership role in pushing the state to begin working on the widening of Skillman Street from Audelia to Whitehurst roads, which currently is not among the State’s immediate plans. Hill says traffic will remain a problem until that link is complete.
Lake Highlands resident Jan Patterson also cites code enforcement and traffic as the major problems for Council members to address, and she agrees that crime has improved, thanks in part to responsive elected officials.
“It’s sort of like business as usual and keep doing well,” she says. “Things are improving in general.”
Patterson, a member of the Lake Highlands Home Owners Association, says the Council has become more responsive and neighborhood-oriented since single-member voting districts were created.
Halstead says she believes no opposition arose to her campaign for re-election this spring because she has been responsive to neighborhood concerns.
“I expect things will continue much as they have,” Halstead says. “I plan to continue working on the northeast Dallas land use plan, which will provide a road map for development over the next 15 years. Crime is always on top of the list, and it will be as long as we have crack cocaine.”