Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Dallas’ Growing Infrastructure Draws Concern

By Rodney Blu

Managing Editor

As the State Fair of Texas once again drew its curtains closed this year, an icon as quintessentially Dallas as any – not quite as esoteric as the Pegasus yet just as prominent as Reunion Tower, took an infernal final bow (see Vol. 35, Issue Four’s  “Big Tex, Everyone Got Burned” by Amy Price.) The 60-year old Big Tex fell to his crispy expiry in what would better befit a scene from a “Transformers” film and though citizens across the Metroplex convened to honor the legacy of our fallen icon at Golden Gate Funeral Home in Oakcliff, it seemed an unspoken certainty that, with his demise, the resurrection of Big Tex would unquestionably join the city’s itinerary of spawning new infrastructure.

At the annual meeting of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau on Friday, Oct 26, local officials presented a brand new marketing campaign to both accompany the city’s growing projects and draw visitors more aggressively than in the past. Abandoning the “Live Large. Think Big.” tagline of 2004 to present (yeah, me neither,) the city now boasts a new logo and slogan.  The $5 million “Big Things Happen Here” branding is just the latest in a host of expenditures in what has been an evolutionary 18 months for the D.

In the past year and a half, endeavors from the $2.5 billion facelift of the disaster that was (and, for the next handful of years, will be) Interstate 635 to the recently opened, five-acre Klyde Warren Park, connecting Uptown to Downtown via Woodall Rogers Freeway, have indicated a fresh, progressive spirit in the city’s governing body that, since the completion of the High-Five Interchange in 2005, has been sitting idle on Dallas’ potential.

Among the aforementioned infrastructural ventures, the city has procured many pricey projects including the $1 billion annual budget for expansion and innovation to Dallas Area Rapid Transit public transportation and light rail systems in 2013, $30 million Lancaster Urban Village development, current poster child of Mayor Mike Rawlin’s Grow South initiative scheduled for completion in 2015 and, let us not forget, the all-encompassing and often forgotten ongoing Trinity River Project, estimated at $246 million in capital bond funds alone, dedicated since its inception in 1998 to the redevelopment of the Trinity River by creating, among other amenities, the largest urban park in the United States.

The idea is that an increased incentive towards innovation and attraction can launch Dallas among the top five convention destinations in the nation, said Mayor Mike Rawlings, “This is a billion dollar opportunity easily.”

Having the bigwigs invest the big bucks into the Big D isn’t enough, however. The renovation of Dallas remains incomplete and for naught, without reenergizing the people who (half, reluctantly) call Dallas home. The diverse population and the resulting culture emanating from the arts, education, business and cuisine, gushing through the city’s downtown arteries and recognized worldwide is constantly undermined and diluted by its antithetical Bizarro World, inhabited with the blasé socialite attitudes most evident in $300,000 millionaire circles, as well as a growing common, apathetic Dallasite standard, seeing our city as nothing past a launching pad to somewhere better – often Austin or either coast.

The painful indifference plaguing the spirit of the city is best exemplified in our own depictions of home. Websites, publications and elitist delusions of grandeur in being Dallas while not being Dallas per se, creates a world within a world whose stain and stench mark the city and its people as highbrow, pampered and pretentious from both native and outside perspectives. Nearly 50 percent of more than 100,000 users on surveyed of their opinion of Dallas answered negatively, attributing such endearing qualities as “cultureless suburban vampires,” and “professional church-goers.”

The developments taking place do not remedy this growing cultural crisis. Bows and ribbons can extend from McKinney to Duncanville but if there isn’t a palpable pride in not only the city’s bells and whistles but in simply being Dallas, then the billions of dollars being funneled into infrastructure is nothing short of casting pearls before swine. For as exciting as the enhancements are, the hope of Dallas’ success and, ultimately, future lies not in slogans, but its citizens.

Whether a building here, a park there or a bridge to nowhere can revitalize the spirit of the city remains to be seen but if lawmakers and lobbyists are capable of lighting a fire under it – if big things are to, in fact, happen here, then the people of Dallas owe it to Big Tex to rekindle the flame.

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