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South Dallas to receive lighting boost under mayor’s public safety plan

DALLAS — South Dallas will receive $500,000 in lighting improvements under a new public safety plan proposed by Mayor Eric Johnson.

The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the proposal, which previously won the support of the Grand Park South Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District’s advisory board. As a result, the Grand Park South TIF will set aside the funds to pay for the new public infrastructure.

In total, 76 new lights will be installed in the area along key corridors in the neighborhood.

Esri Community Map

TIF Districts, which reinvest 90% of the new property tax revenue generated in a designated area, are traditionally used in Dallas to support developers pursuing specific economic development projects. But in January, Mayor Johnson asked his TIF board chairs to consider using their available funds to instead pay for blight remediation and lighting improvements. Both are public safety programs recommended by the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities.

“We are putting public safety first and getting back to basics in Dallas — and to do so, we are leaving no stone unturned,” Mayor Johnson said. “These lighting upgrades can help make our wonderful South Dallas community safer while also creating the conditions necessary for our residents and businesses to thrive in the years ahead.

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“I greatly appreciate the City Council’s support for this plan and for backing the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities programs,” Mayor Johnson added. “We must continue to support these critical initiatives, which build safer neighborhoods while addressing longstanding inequities in our city.”

Mayor Johnson called on other city TIF boards to follow the Grand Park South TIF District’s example, if possible.

The mayor previously worked with the Office of Integrated Public Safety Solutions and the Child Poverty Action Lab to create overlay maps that showed TIF board chairs where their funding support could make a difference.

Grand Park South was the first TIF District to take up the proposal. The plan also had the backing of City Councilmember Adam Bazaldua, who represents the area and has strongly advocated for the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities programs.

The TIF District — which is composed of neighborhoods south of Fair Park — was created in 2005, but had yet to help fund a single project. According to its 2019-2020 annual report, the TIF District “exhibits deteriorated structures, inadequate sidewalks and streets, faulty lot layouts, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, and deteriorated site improvements.” Those issues, the report continues, “substantially arrest or impair the sound growth of the City and property within the area.”

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But the area also includes assets such as its strong historic neighborhoods, the MLK Library and Community Center, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail station, and its proximity to Fair Park, which is undergoing a revitalization.

“Exciting things are happening in South Dallas, and these lighting improvements will add to that momentum. This is a major investment in public safety, economic development, and basic infrastructure in an area that City Hall has historically neglected,” said Councilmember Bazaldua. “I am grateful to Mayor Johnson for proposing this innovative strategy and to my City Council colleagues for supporting our efforts to make Dallas safer and more vibrant.”

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