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Business owners along East Lancaster Avenue have pretty much seen it all –– druggies, drunks, panhandlers, thieves, trespassers. Just about anyone who operates a business along the city’s most notorious street has dealt with these problems and plenty more since the area fell into decline about 30 or 40 years ago. Scott Dyson, who owns the 20-year-old music retailer Competition Music, wasn’t too excited when he heard about the city’s potential plan to spend $107 million to increase mobility, attract shoppers, and give business owners along East Lancaster a much-needed boost. Dyson has heard this old song before.

The plan would focus on a portion of East Lancaster: six miles of six lanes divided by a median. Transportation officials want to remove two lanes –– one in each direction –– and add bus lanes, sidewalks, and bike lanes with buffers, or strips of concrete or landscaping that put space between oncoming traffic and pedestrians and bikers. Dyson immediately pointed out a flaw.

Scott Dyson, owner of Competition Music store: “None of these health nuts on bikes are going to be coming to East Lancaster to ride.” Photo by Madelyn Edwards.

“None of these health nuts on bikes are going to be coming to East Lancaster to ride,” Dyson said. “Mainly, the homeless and crack heads are going be on the bikes [for a] quick getaway.”

Dyson isn’t alone in his thinking. Business owners along the street doubt the plan’s ability to actually make much difference in their bottom lines. People working on the street that is Ground Zero for the city’s homeless population can’t miss the obvious signs of neglect. The street itself isn’t the problem. Drivers aren’t dodging potholes. They’re more likely to be swerving to miss a homeless jaywalker. Fixing the devastation in this part of town might take a miracle.

The powers that be, however, don’t seem to be lacking in hope, even if they’re short on cash.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. What a completely absurd article! First of all there are few to no shops for higher end or at the very least desirable shopping along Lancaster apart from a few mechanic shops, even fewer restaurants, Handley Feed Store, and the Winchester Gallery. Does the TIGER Plan have a plan to court better or more desirable business? As for biking lanes, they surely will not attract the type of bike traffic which would boost the east side. Perhaps, a few school children will use them, but then again every school age child I see gets a ride or uses FWISD buses. You are certainly not going to see serious bicycle hobbyists using the Lancaster corridor. Every bike owner that recreationally bikes in the east side takes their bikes to trails along the Trinity or public parks. As for public transportation it exists already but it will not attract urban transport to and from work for those who would be considered as desirable in our neighborhood. Those higher income workers who live in the east side, who I know, use DART transit, park their cars in the DART parking areas and then travel to Dallas.

    I’ll further research into this, but I think it will be wasted money and wasted use of traffic lanes. Another bunch of horse hockey from the Reekly!

  2. As a lifelong east-sider, I have some thoughts to share on this topic. The eastside is trapped like a fly in ancient amber because the same old folks are making decisions behind the scenes with the same old short-sighted elected officials all serving on and controlling important committees and focus groups. Notice I didn’t call them leaders. Leaders would seek out new blood and new ways of thinking and stop trying to control in the same old ways. But they like control and think they know best so we remain caught like that little fly. It’s all very cozy but not very progressive. Just be patient a few more decades, dearies. I recall the resistance I encountered when Prairie Fest eclipsed the quaint little neighborhood wildflower walks at Tandy Hills. They wanted my head for upsetting the status quo. Instead, Tandy Hills and Prairie Fest became regional attractions. I recall the nice lady who built an expensive but, old-fashioned fence around her yard. It didn’t fit the accepted norm and she was hounded unmercifully by the local fence police but, she won in “court.” I recall the quirky shop owner on E. Lancaster who landscaped the median in from of her shop with native plants. She, too, was hounded and criticized for what is now an oasis of color and beauty in our blighted ‘hood. I recall how the “powers that be” decided the neighborhood should get in bed with dirty oil & gas rather than fight back. At the urging of the drillers, some so-called leaders even travelled to Austin to disparage their neighbors who did fight back. (I have their testimony on tape.) Now we have industrial sites (and industrial pollution) dotting our formerly, residential neighborhood and the mail box money is bye-bye. Now I’m told by these same folks that bike lanes and street realignment will free us from amber. Instead of wise elders we have a few old fools with too much power for way too long. It’s the Fort Worth way, ya know…. We need new blood, and new ways of thinking about old problems.

  3. There’s that old adage that when you have a new hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

    A few years ago the City tried to sell us in the 5000-6000 block of East Lancaster Avenue on the walkable village concept, a concept that works in places like the Stockyards, Magnolia Avenue, Race Street, and others. But the walkable village depends on retail shops set side-by-side, close to the street, and with rear parking. Our area here is not that way. Our businesses are set far apart, with front or side parking, and many aren’t the type of establishment one would visit during a leisurely stroll. Nobody drops in to visit a lawyer, tax preparer, or casket retailer. The walkable village concept won’t work here.

    Of late, the City’s been bitten by the bike-lane bug. Bike lanes are fine if there’s a demand for them; but in many places the City has replaced heavily-used car lanes with seldom-used bike lanes. This makes no sense.

    Rather than reacting to the latest city-planning fad, it would be more prudent for city planners to develop plans only after assessing needs.

  4. Many smart people tend to believe that government employees , most of them anyhow, tend to be lay-about leeches. What do you think Johnie Boy?

  5. Rather than jacking around on our governments time, Johny Boy, maybe you should behave like a big boy and consider doing what you are being paid to do. What’s wrong with you? Government lay-abouts should do a little something for the citizens if they wish to amount to anything. Rather than flapping your jaws, it would be better to put your brain in gear before beginning assessing your thoughts. What do you eat?

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