By Raven Jordan

Forward Dallas hosted its first public community meeting of the year regarding the South Dallas and Fair Park Area Plan at South Dallas Cultural Center Thursday night.

Members from the City of Dallas Planning and Urban Development Department addressed land use, housing and zoning, primarily along Elsie Faye Heggins and 2nd Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr Station and Malcolm X Boulevard.

There are small businesses scattered along those streets and one of the ideas is attracting more businesses to the area. The task force is currently in the engagement process until March 2023, allowing residents and the community to give their input on what they’d like to see on maps.

December South Dallas/ Fair Park Area Task Force meeting | Photo by Raven Jordan

“This is an update to land use citywide. It will guide how everything will go for the next 20 years and we’ll be getting a future land use map,” Lindsay Jackson, a senior planner for Dallas Planning and Urban Design Department said.

The area in discussion also includes these neighborhood organizations: Bertrand, Bexar Street, Connection, Bonton, Colonial Hill, Fair Park Estates, Mill City, Pea Penn Estates, Phillis Wheatley Neighbors, Revitalize South Dallas Coalition, South Blvd/Park Row, St. Phillips, Queen City and Woodlawn.

Some of the issues raised at previous meetings were housing costs, displacement and connectivity, as well as mobility.

“That’s something this plan is going to work on,” Patrick Blaydes, a senior planner for Dallas said. “Environmental justice, we’ve heard that as well. There have been some decisions that have been made in Dallas in the past that have negatively affected a lot of individuals from those environmental perspectives.”

Blaydes also simplified land use and zoning with a pizza analogy when discussing different areas in Dallas, including mixed residential use, medium commercial and regional commercial districts.

“Sometimes when you order a type of pizza, like the veggie pizza, it shouldn’t have certain things on it,” Blaydes said. “Think about Queen City, that’s a certain type of place, you understand what that place is. When you go to Bishop Arts, you understand that’s a different place. We need input from the community to let us know that nobody wants a Hawaiian pizza, they want this type of pizza.”

Then, in an interactive exercise, South Dallas residents used colored sticky notes and dots to write down and indicate what they’d like to see more of and where.

On the maps at each table outlining the South Dallas/ Fair Park Area, many residents indicated they want more suburban residential and medium commercial districts along Martin Luther King Jr. and toward Elsie Faye Heggins.

Their next meeting will happen sometime in January.