From classic rock cover bands and unconventional crime-curbing measures to the likes of scandalous shops and rental bikes, here’s an update on some of the most intriguing neighborhood stories of the year.
Are bullets still flying over Bent Creek?
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The City of Dallas took a no-nonsense approach to curbing crime at Forest and Audelia in the past few years. The Dallas Police Department and federal government implemented Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide program designed to reduce crime rates. The City of Dallas filed a nuisance lawsuit against the owner of Bent Creek shopping center and established the North Lake Highlands Public Improvement District, a targeted tax district whose funds are used for bettering specific areas.
After the city filed suit, Bent Creek principal Mohammed Khanani spent $250,000 to pay off-duty cops, and increase security lighting, cameras and fencing. The measures shuffled crime down the road, but Bent Creek hasn’t yet lost its reputation as a haven for drug dealers and gang violence.
Want to knock out crime? Open a boxing gym
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Another unconventional idea for curbing crime at Forest-Audelia has seen just as much success: A place for teens to practice boxing. The North Lake Highlands Youth Boxing Gym opened its doors in September 2017, and it appeared in the Advocate in March, when 35 kids, including Olympic hopefuls Joshua and Jordan Jenkins, were learning to box after school. Now 100 children come through the gym’s doors during the week. The Jenkins twins are entering USA Boxing’s elite category in hopes they can compete in Tokyo in 2020. The gym is a public-private partnership that relies on donations. Click here to see how you can help.
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First came Moss Farm neighbor Alkos Giagtzis with plans to open a topless club on Petal Street. Then came Hustler Hollywood to LBJ Service Road. The opening of a few sexually oriented businesses in Lake Highlands highlighted how difficult preventing them from opening is. The Dallas Police Department is required to approve a license request if the business complies with zoning laws and owners and managers don’t have criminal records.
Strategically placed pocket parks haven’t yet stopped sexually oriented businesses from coming to our neighborhood. The only significant change in the past year is who approves their licenses. A detective in the recently reinstated police vice unit now reviews requests.
Zoe Hastings honored with a lot of love and creativity
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After 18-year-old Zoe Hastings was murdered in 2015, her mother, Cheryl, became a sexual-assault nurse examiner, a position that allows her to examine women who were raped, preserve evidence and even testify as an expert witness. Zoe’s father, Jim, found solace in art and drew hundreds of portraits of family members since his daughter’s death. He and sculptor Art Wells created a memorial piece in Zoe’s honor that now hangs at the White Rock YMCA pool, where Zoe was a lifeguard.
Rock out like it’s 1969
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You’ve probably spotted these seven retirees and lawyers having a good time at the bar — except they’re typically holding instruments instead of beers. The Catdaddies’ first gig was a Lake Highlands Elementary talent show, and they’ve performed classic rock tunes the past 20 years. We covered the band’s anniversary set at Lone Star Roadhouse in September, and the band has kept busy since then. The Catdaddies serenaded runners at BMW Dallas Marathon in December and will do the same at Attorneys Serving the Community Heart & Sole 5k this February.
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Green Lime Bikes, orange Spin bikes, yellow Ofos and all the others.
So many dockless rental bikes hit the Dallas market in 2017 that we were knocking them over, moving them out of the way and imagining them as sentient robots here to destroy mankind.
Residents demanded something be done, so last summer, City Council placed fees on bike-share operators in Dallas, including annual licenses and a per-bike fee that gave companies incentives to keep the flood of bikes at bay.
After that, Beijing-based Ofo pulled out of the Dallas market, abandoning hundreds of its yellow bikes in our city. Most of them are garbage. Some have been claimed by homeless residents or made over with spray paint and Bedazzlers.
Just when rental bikes started clearing the streets of Dallas came another convenience/menace: electric scooters.
While whizzing around with little effort in the Texas heat is a cool idea, scooter accidents are resulting in serious injuries and deaths across the country.
The evidence so far is anecdotal, gathered from news stories and trauma-center reports. Soon there will be an accounting.
The Centers for Disease Control currently is conducting a study of scooter-related accidents in Austin. – Rachel Stone