PID officeThe Citizen Action Team, a group of enthusiastic homeowners interested in making things better for all Lake Highlands residents, hosted an informational meeting last week. It was led by Patrick Sanders, Assistant City Attorney and Northeast Community Prosecutor, who talked about his “broken windows theory of crime”. Where there are code violations, other crimes follow, so he vigorously pursues violators, particularly in apartments.

Sanders introduced Becky Range, Executive Director of the LH Public Improvement District (PID). The PID is a non-profit, funded by tax assessments to 780 property owners (primarily retail, service and apartments, but no single family) along a 3.5 mile area of the Skillman corridor in the center of LH. Becky’s goal is to make LH look better, feel safer and experience a revitalized economy.

Public safety, said Becky, is currently the PID’s top priority, and she considers both law enforcement/DPD and volunteers/crime watch to be valuable tools.

Since Becky came onboard in early 2011, she’s developed in a strong working relationship with many apartment managers in the area. The PID encourages “discretionary leasing,” including background checks, screening to weed out “proxy renters,” and techniques for booting problem tenants. She hosts frequent managers’ workshops, including one coming up in September.

“Lake Highlands will do a better job of attracting business when we do a better job of attracting responsible apartment owners and managers,” she said.

A new initiative, “Not On My Block”, seeks to create an apartment-community crime watch based on the DPD’s theory of 10/70/20: Ten percent of citizens are actively involved in crime watch and reporting, 20% are engaged in criminal activity and 70% are Average Joes doing neither. With tips for avoiding victimization and protecting property from theft, brochures in English and Spanish remind residents of the benefits of a safe neighborhood for families and suggest what suspicious activity should be reported.

Becky also discussed community-building activities, including collaboration with churches for a variety of activities and programs.  She is working with LH’s own Ginger Greenberg, from the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, who received a grant from the United Way to assist apartment tenants in debt. The PID will also be hosting a Safety Fair in partnership with the LH Junior Women’s League’s annual Run the Highlands on April 27 from 10 am to 2 pm. On Memorial Day, May 27, the PID is participating in an Art & Play Festival benefiting Camp Sweeney, to be held at the LH Town Center.

Becky is excited about prospects for the Skillman Crossing redevelopment at Skillman and Whitehurst (site of Denny’s and Cici’s Pizza), with community groups, property owners and city agencies partnering since November of 2011. Lake Highlands United Methodist Church runs The New Room there, and Watermark Church has announced plans to open a charity clinic. Complicating plans for that site has been the Skillman LBJ Gateway study, funded by the City of Dallas and the NCTCOG, which is still underway. A meeting seeking public input will be held Saturday, May 19 at PID’s offices.

The PID is currently spending money on capital improvements, including and hike/bike trail improvements and Skillman medians, which Becky says are easy, cheap and make a big impact.

Becky is bright and energetic, and it’s easy to become optimistic about improving all things LH after hearing Becky speak. She’s willing to try new things and willing to hear the ideas of others. Stop in to her offices, just north of El Fenix, and give her your two cents.