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Dallas Voters To Decide On Billion-Dollar Bond Package Covering More Parks, Street Repairs

About half of the Dallas bond package is for street repairs.

Among the Nov. 7 ballot items in Dallas is a billion-dollar bond package of items ranging from streets, parks and libraries to homelessness and economic development. 

City Hall reporter Tristan Hallman of The Dallas Morning News said City Council originally had a tab as low as $600 million in mind.

“After the Dallas Police and Fire Pension crisis stabilized, they decided we could probably do a little more than $800 million," Hallman said. "Part of the problem was they couldn’t really decide what should go in that $800 million." 

Hallman said this bond package is "sort of a reckoning" with a lot of city projects that have been a long time coming, especially parks. He explains how some of the key items in the bond package break down:

Parks, $262 million:

  • Klyde Warren Park expansion
  • Three new downtown parks
  • New recreation centers
  • Parking lot
  • Bathrooms at the Arboretum
  • Circuit trails connecting existing Dallas trails

Streets, $533 million: Most will go toward deferred maintenance. "You can see it when you're driving every day," Hallman said. "There are a lot of potholes that just get patched and the road really needs to be repaved."

He said the hope with this part of the package is that the city can finally start making progress on improving the streets. 

"We’ll see how that goes because the streets are generally seen as a maintenance item that should be paid for out of the annual budget," he said. "That was councilman (Lee) Kleinman’s complaint: that the streets should not be paid for on a credit card, that this should be something that the city funds every year."

Homeless assistance facilities, $20 million: Some of this will go toward permanent supportive housing for homeless residents. It’s hard to tell what this is going to look like just yet, Hallman said.

"I don’t know that this is going to be a shovel-ready project, but they decided the best way to solve the homeless problem is to give permanent supportive housing," he said.

The problem is providing longer-term housing is expensive. While $20 million may not be what solves homelessness in Dallas, Hallman said it's a start. 

Fair Park, $50 million: When city officials were talking about handing this over to a private vendor – now, it's an open bid process – the question was: “Should we pay a lot of money to fix up the buildings now or should we wait until we have some tenants and then really pay?”

Regardless, Fair Park is made up of historic structures and a lot of them are in need of repairs, Hallman said. This item of the package will basically be asking people, "Do you care about Fair Park?" And city officials believe the answer’s going be yes.  

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.