The city doesn’t care what you think, especially about the toll road

trinity river

If you know what a “charrette” is, then you’ve probably been to a lot of public meetings. If not, here’s how former City Councilwoman Angela Hunt explains it in her January column for the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate:

… the difference between public meetings and charrettes was defined by the level of pre-school craftiness involved. If you sat in a chair the whole time listening to a presentation, you were most likely at a public meeting.

But if the experience was interactive, if you got to walk around to different “stations” and draw on big white boards and play with glue sticks and colored dots and maps, well, then, you have been charretted upon.

Hunt says that during her years of service at City Hall, she attended many charrettes, where taxpayers took time out of their Saturday mornings to draw on maps and give their input into public projects. And guess how much of that valuable input made it into the city’s actual plans? Virtually zero percent.

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I was incensed. All those meetings, those fancy “charrettes,” had been a sham designed to exploit residents’ reasonable expectation that their voices mattered, when in fact, they did not.

That’s basically what happened recently with the Oak Cliff Gateway project. Stakeholders spent years hammering out details that ultimately were ignored.

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Hunt warns us to expect the same thing with the charrettes that inevitably will come with presentations for the Trinity toll road from Mayor Mike Rawlings’ “dream team” of urban planners. Hunt says the toll road plan cannot in reality be reworked without restarting the lengthy process of approvals from federal authorities. I will revel in writing this: a charrette is a charade.

… the consultants, the charrettes, the solemn reconsideration, it’s all political theater designed to distract Dallasites while the city moves forward with its plan to build a massive toll road in the Trinity floodway.

She asks that toll road opponents express their disapproval with their votes.

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  • Bob Dobbins

    Sure it is a little hyperbolic.How about this….from a car, TXDOT planning appears to be vindictive, especially when a tollroad is involved. Freeway design is an inherent self-fulfilling failure.

  • While I’m not a fan of toll roads, especially their recent overuse, “destroyed the roads” is hyperbolic. The sad fact is that north Loop 820 was poorly conceived, so blame the original plan for being so shortsighted that there was no right of way to address a serious bottleneck around Rufe Snow. The solution may be ugly, and sure toll road users are being twice-taxed, but drivers will grumble and deal with it

  • dallasmay

    I don’t think he’s a communication’s consultant. His Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fred.theobald) says he works at Works at Vantage Point Counseling Services and Turtle Creek Chorale. Seems like a legitimate citizen of Dallas.

  • bbetzen

    Something we have little control over will change this entire argument quickly. Capabilities building toward self-driven cars are slowly evolving in cars now being purchased. A major upgrade this month to all Model S Tesla’s will be a major step forward. That goal may be achieved as quickly as 2020 with discussion of dedicated freeway lanes for self-driving cars happening. They will allow a freeway lane to serve 500% more traffic, especially in rush-hour. The need for the Trinity Toll Road will quickly disappear.

    The new LBJ being completed will quickly be understood as obsolete. It is an over-built strip of concrete with a capacity that will never be utilized in the life-time of infants now being born, if ever!

  • B.P.

    Fred in Dallas is a classic response in tenor and tone from an old school Dallas PR hack or recently retired city employee. Here are some tips for you, “Fred.” First, if you are going to use Word or Outlook to edit your talking points make sure you fix the indentation after you cut and paste. Second, listing your talking points is helpful for your client, but it is a tip off that you are a communications consultant. Lazy. Next, you and your ilk always use the same formula for creating fake handles on blog posts. (eg in ). Finally, don’t waste your time defending the Tollway in an North Oak Cliff publication. That battle is over. Sure, you are being paid a retainer and SOMEBODY has to respond, but you have better things to do like hiring “consultants” in Southern Dallas and figuring out why the political climate in Dallas has changed forever.

  • this is exactly the way politics goes…money and influence win…voices of the people lose…

  • Lolotehe

    What an interesting way to format a reply. You don’t usually see right indents like that.

  • Bob Dobbins

    Fred, lets put it like this. No credentialed urban planner is for it. The Corp, the same guys that brought you the Katrina disaster, are even against it. While we are at it, can we go ahead and pave the rest of the Arboretum and get it over with?

  • Bob Dobbins

    actually, they think you won’t vote.

  • Bob Dobbins

    Fred, you are delusional. The only supporting vote the tollway ever got in public was one where the question was one where support was twisted to a “No”. If you had a straight up vote….do you want to build a billion dollar tollway in the Trinity floodplan…the measure would overwhelmingly fail. Go look at traffic in North Fort Worth…they destroyed the roads to force people onto toll roads. We aren’t glue-huffing stupid.

  • FredinDallas

    With all due respect, Ms. Hunt writes an interesting article
    but it ultimately comes across as a case of sour grapes and reflects and embarrassing
    naiveté on the part the writer.

    1. Ms. Hunt suggests
    that comments in the most recent hearings were largely not reflected in the report.
    The fact is many of these were
    considered earlier by city staff and addressed in the past. Ms. Hunt even hints to this when she states
    that the city has invested thousands of dollars and hours developing the plan
    and admits that any changes at this point would jeopardize the plan.

    2. Ms. Hunt fails to
    mention is that public comment has been solicited throughout the process. I am very sorry that opponents to the plan waited
    this long to voice their concerns and ideas; I am certain that city staff would
    have welcomed all such comments as they developed the plan.

    3. Ms. Hunt seems to
    think that neighborhood groups are more qualified to comment on urban planning
    issues than the professional city staff.
    The general public has no idea of the intricacies of urban planning and
    entrust these decisions to staff. To my
    knowledge, Ms. Hunt lacks any expertise in urban development and has no
    credentials to criticize staff. This
    appears to be nothing more than political grandstanding by a woman who wants to
    position herself for future public office.

  • downtownworker

    They think we’re so dumb. I cannot wait to vote against Rawlings.

  • LeAnn Lewis

    Rawlings needs to go.

  • DFW75208

    Same with the redistricting commission. Why do we allow this to happen?