DART is coming. And Lake Highlands is its next stop. But some neighborhood residents aren’t exactly happy about its new light-rail system.
“I think DART needs to be here, but they need to take care of the people who have helped them bring this together,” says Peggy Hill, a real estate agent and neighborhood resident.
DART should be willing to compromise with the community to satisfy our needs, Hill says.
Hill has been a member of the Northeast Corridor Advisory Committee for DART for the past four years, working closely with a group of neighborhood residents and DART planners on light-rail issues.
The Northeast Corridor is the DART light-rail line that travels from Downtown to Garland along the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad tracks, passing straight through our community.
Last month, DART released its Local Environment Assessment report, which pin-pointed neighborhood areas that would be most impacted by noise, safety hazards and visual intrusions from light-rail trains. The report then listed suggestions to help resolve the problems.
DART has been holding public meetings for the past four years to discuss these issues, but Hill believes DART officials knew what they were going to do since day one and that the meetings have only been public relations shenanigans.
“They told us they were going to do basically what they said they were going to do on the first day we met with them,” Hill says.
The report is not a final plan, says Jack Wierzenski, the manager of DART Planning Studies and System Development. No matter how many times DART says it’s open to negotiations, people think DART’s suggestions are final, Wierzenski says.
“I can only speak in English,” he says.
Some residents want DART to erect an 8-foot concrete wall around the tracks near school grounds, rather than the 6-foot chain-link fence DART has suggested, Hill says.
“You get the same reaction every place you go,” Wierzenski says. “Every concern is valid and we take every one seriously. But we have to be very careful on how we spend money.”
A concrete wall costs $180 a linear foot while a chain-link fence runs $15 a linear foot, he says.
Wierzenski says: “Given enough time, anyone can get around anything.”
DART’s plans for our neighborhood are based partly on the light-rail system in south and west Oak Cliff, Hill says, which is the only neighborhood where light-rail is up and running.
“There would be even more protest if we do things differently in one neighborhood,” Wierzenski says.
Due to traffic concerns, controversy has also arisen in Lake Highlands about where DART should construct a light-rail station.
DART has proposed several sites. One option is to build the station behind the Tom Thumb on Skillman and another is to build it where Sun Colony Apartment Complex now stands, which is just east of the Royal/Audelia intersection.
For information call Jay Barksdale at 214-749-2707.