On Thursday, September 9, the Dallas City Council will take up Zoning 3 21-1551, a rezoning application by Forest Lane Development LLC which is a contingent element for its pending purchase of City property originally purchased with 2006 Bond money approved by Dallas voters on which to construct a new Preston Royal Library.
For approximately 16 years, the users of the Preston Royal Library have waited, initially for a new library, and currently for the 2006 Bond money tied up in the rezoning application to be freed to commence the vastly needed restorations, improvements, expansions of the Preston Royal Library. The current District 13 City council member, Gay Donnell Willis, is the third Dallas City council member who has tried to complete the construction of a new or restoration of the Preston Royal Library – now 57 years old (1964-2021).
I attended the 6 p.m., August 31, community meeting with the Melshire Estates (et al) neighborhoods at E.D. Walker Middle School on the rezoning application. Councilmember Willis had delayed the prior scheduled council vote to give the neighborhoods the opportunity to be heard. An agreed agenda and speaker time limits had been set due to the 8 p.m. closing of the school.
The developer’s representative presented a slide show of the planned walled housing development on Forest at Nuestra. Three or four city representatives were present to answer questions regarding zoning.
The Melshire neighborhoods opposition speaker gave his presentation which consumed all the time allocated to that group. However, the group had two additional speakers. When Councilmember Willis advised that, due to the 15 minute/group limits, the additional two speakers had no available time, the Melshire neighborhoods opposition members began yelling, screaming, and threatening the councilmember, and preventing the next group (“For”) to speak.
In order, apparently, to bring peace, the “For” group gave up some of their allotted time to the opposition group – resulting in the opposition getting three speakers, and the “For” group getting one speaker.
The undersigned representative for the Preston Royal Library Friends was the last speaker. The points made in support of the rezoning application rested on the essential need of the Preston Royal Library users for the Preston Royal Library to receive the 2006 bond money so that the 57-year-old building could be renovated, restored, improved, expanded to serve the third, going on fourth, generation of users, which included the Melshire neighborhoods, and many others. The 2006 bond money cannot be used for some other purpose because the people of Dallas voted to designate that funding for a specific purpose to benefit the Preston Royal Library. For almost 15 years, the Melshire neighborhood has enjoyed the Preston Royal Library’s abandoned building site as a “green buffer” while the users of the Preston Royal Library have been deprived of the critically needed new or repaired/restored/modernized/expanded Library for which the people of Dallas voted. It’s time to free up the 2006 bond funds, rezone the property and close the sale!
In essence, the opposition to the proposed rezoning is whether there should be 26 building plats (or some lesser number valued at $1 million each) within the to be walled space facing Forest Lane, OR whether the 2006 bond decision of the people of Dallas should stand and the users of Preston Royal Library finally receive a significantly improved library facility!
(Not insignificantly, the abandoned City property will be restored to the property tax rolls, a revenue benefit to all Dallas residents.)
I urge the Dallas City Council and Mayor to VOTE YES on Z3 21-1551!
On Behalf of the Preston Royal Library Friends,
Katherine Savers McGovern
President, Preston Royal Library Friends