If everything goes as planned, the northwest corner of a shopping center at Forest-Audelia will be home to a boxing gym, which, police and city officials hope will provide recreation for youths in northeast Dallas and Lake Highlands.
The area has long been a hot spot for crime; of particular concern has been violent crime among young men. Efforts such as the formation of the Forest-Audelia violent crime task force, has reduced problems and knocked the intersection out of the top-ten most dangerous sections of the city. (See additional article about that later today) .
But leaders such as Northeast Police Subdivision commander Andrew Acord and District 10 Councilman Adam McGough have long been pushing the idea that there needs to be more to occupy what Acord called “astray” teens in the area, those at risk of joining gangs and becoming involved in crimes.
“We’ve got to get something productive for those kids to do,” McGough says, adding that there are no playgrounds, not even a library or a basketball hoop in the area.
A year or so ago, Northeast Police and the city began hosting events at Forest Audelia, including a community festival, a rap battle, motivational speakers and three-on-three basketball tournaments.
It was around that time that we first heard mention of a possible boxing gym — something that in some cities has been shown to provide discipline, self-respect, a sense of purpose and belonging to inner city youths — but making that idea come to fruition would take a ton of work, problem solving and, well, “a small miracle” or two, says McGough.
The idea, Acord’s brainchild, was a good one, but bringing all the pieces together to make it happen was overwhelming and would require the cooperation of several entities, McGough says.
They’d need the space, which they located on the bottom floor in the corner of the shopping center at 9779 Forest Ln. McGough says he’s working with the landlord, a California resident, to lease it at a nominal rent, but that the space is essentially secured. Once constructors knock out a wall, it will offer 5,000 square feet for the project.
Some work on the space has been funded by a private contributor, McGough says, but groups including Dallas Area Interfaith, Greater Dallas Apartment Association also have backed the project.
Today at the Dallas City Council meeting, the council will be asked to approve an application for and acceptance of the Dallas Police Athletic League grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention … to fund the purchase of equipment and protective gear for a boxing club program at the Forest Audelia Boxing Center … and laptops for tutoring and data collection … not to exceed $34,000.
That is basically for the boxing ring and equipment itself, McGough says.
McGough says they plan to staff the facility with Dallas Park Department personnel during the day, and during after school programs for children and that the Dallas Police Athletic League will head the youth boxing programs.
McGough says construction could begin soon and the gym might open as early as next spring; he adds the caveat that you never know what other obstacles might emerge.
The gym will add needed police presence in the area, McGough says, and he hopes other beneficial services will be inclined to surround the gym.
“It won’t solve all the problems, but it is a start,” he says. “It can start some momentum.”