City Council Rolls a Gutter Ball on Greenville

How neighborhood activists used zoning and fear to cause the death of cool.

Last week the city council shot down a six-lane bowling alley on Lower Greenville Avenue next to Good Records, denying zoning for a $1.5 million project there because activists told the council the bowling alley and attached bar would draw hordes of loud drunken outsiders to the neighborhood.

Really? We can't have a bowling alley? Old East Dallas is now opposed to bowling alleys attached to bars because they threaten us with moral ruination? For the life of me, I can't get the lyrics from The Music Man out of my head.

The Music Man was a hit Tony-award-winning Broadway musical by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey in the late 1950s, made into a hit movie in the early '60s and kept alive ever since in countless high school productions. It's about a scam artist who goes to River City, a hick town in Iowa, and convinces the populace they need to buy marching band instruments from him in order to rescue their youths from the corrupting menace of a pool hall.

So all last week I'm reading back over the dire warnings about the corrupting effect this six-lane bowling alley is going to have on my part of town, and I can't stop hearing lyrics from The Music Man.

If I close my eyes, I can almost see professional Lower Greenville neighborhood activist Avi Adelman doing the Robert Preston part from the movie.

I imagine a big neighborhood picnic at Tietze Park one hot Saturday afternoon. Avi has mounted a picnic table to catch the attention of a vast crowd. Hundreds of moms and pops push in closer to hear him.

"Well, either you're closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge," Avi starts out, "or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a bowling alley in your community."

Now Avi steps down and dances out front to the ominously building thrum of snare drums in the background. He waves his arms to and fro, weaving the yokels into his spell:

"Ya got trouble, my friends, right here, I say, trouble right here in Old East Dallas! The first big step on the road to the depths of degradation, I say, first, medicinal wine from a teaspoon. Then beer from a bottle!"

A shocked moan goes up from the crowd. Mothers and fathers snatch sons and daughters by the earlobes, eying them accusingly.

"An' the next thing ya know," Avi tells them, "your son is bowlin' for money in a pinch-back suit. And list'nin' to some big out-a-town jasper, hearin' him tell about horse-race gamblin'!

"Ya got one, two, three, four, five, six lanes in a bowling alley. Lanes that mark the diff'rence between a gentleman and a bum, with a capital B, and that goes with O and that stands for bowling!"

Now we yokels, utterly hypnotized by Avi's sermon, chant it back to him: "Trouble! Oh, we got trouble! Right here in Old East Dallas! With a capital T that rhymes with B and that stands for bowling!

"We've surely got trouble! Right here in Old East Dallas! Right here! Gotta figger out a way to keep the young ones moral after school!"

When I watched some of that city council meeting last week, I could still imagine the crowd whisper-chanting in the background: "Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble."

What the hell? When did Old East Dallas become River City? I thought we were the hip part of town. When did we become a bunch of Bible-beating yokels? I must have slept through that part.

Look, I've known Avi for years, and I respect him for what he does, and I'm not going to start now accusing him of being a scam artist in a 1950s Broadway musical. For that, maybe tune in next week.

Avi and I talked last week after the vote. He and the other activists have an entire conspiracy theory about the bowling alley. They say it's a speakeasy cover story for some gigantic rooftop snake pit that's going to be like a scene from Dante's Inferno. It's an interesting vision. Take some years off me, I might want to go.

What troubles me more is Avi's vision for what he thinks the future of Lower Greenville ought to be. I don't want to get boring, but when he talks about it I start hearing that damned marching band music again.

I asked him last week how he sees the future. He said the street, which is lined by low-rise 1920s brick buildings on 25-by-50-foot lots, is "designed for community retail."

Community retail? I admit, it knocked me back for a second. I had to think. I said, "community retail is a pretty big shift."

"What shift?" Avi said. He said that's what was there before it became a bar zone in the 1990s. "That's the zoning down there," he said, "with mom and pop stores like the original Bluebonnet [an organic grocery store] and the African bookstore."

I said, "You're really looking at the elimination of the so-called entertainment district."

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41 comments
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thomas
thomas

Hello any one home? Angela Hunt/Babies, Avi and Jesus (gray headed guy who obviously can't find a barber) who is always down at the Council instructing Ms. Hunt what to do should move out in the wilderness and live off the berries. They are responsible for a dying Greenville Avenue dying quicker......shame on this council and mayor for not showing some leadership.

Ms Freedmans
Ms Freedmans

They are doing the same thing on State and Thomas, that's been done on Greenville Ave. but ain't nobody say nothing!Council want to build up that entertainment District so the want move. And the entertainment Area of Hall st. Every buliding torn down, no partying for us not on HALL ST.

Lee
Lee

I've lived in Lower Greenville for several years and have never been approached by Avi about my opinion on anything Lower Greenville. If he had stopped by my house, I would have told him how excited my family and I were about possibly having a bowling alley within walking distance, rather than the one in Richardson where my league is (a bowling alley that is open until 2 AM as well).

Neighbor
Neighbor

Why do you want to talk to Avi? Have you spoken to the leadership of your neighborhood association (there are six in the area)?

Stella Did It
Stella Did It

City Council - you failed your constituents.

Not Angela Hunt
Not Angela Hunt

No, THEY did not (as a group). Angela Hunt failed HER constituents is the correct term.

She made a deal with the devil (the property owners) and brought the neighborhoods along for the ride.

When all her neighborhoods turned on her and said the bowling alley concept (as presented) was the right fit, she tried to force it down their throats.

When they spit it back up, she delayed the hearings for another two weeks.

And when the vote finally came up, she was absent from the horseshoe. How convenient - when it went down for defeat unanimously, she could still save face with the property owners and say "Hey, shit happens and I missed the meeting."

Evilisa
Evilisa

clap clap clap!! amen!

Zzz1794
Zzz1794

We were scammed by these people when it came to the Resident Only Parking along Prospect. They told us "you'll have two hang tag AND we'll pay for them!" They told us, "you won't have any cars but neighbors parking on your street." They told us, "litter won't be a problem because foot traffic will reduce!"

Well, they conveniently left out the part where our fire lane will have to be moved to the other side of the street. They conveniently left out the part that only houses with an ease-way to Prospect will get hang tags. Those are the topics I think they blatantly lied to us about.

The other results of this ROP is that our neighbors from another complex are constantly parking in front of our complex. Since we only have 4 hang tags for 14 units, we never get to park on the street in front of our complex. With the move of the fire lane, the addition of the neighbor's cars, and now trash being picked up from the street, my trash can get's missed at least once every 2 months because the Sanitation Engineers don't go around the neighbor's cars to empty my trash can.

Oh, and did I tell you that I think there is more trash along the north side of the road? It's only ROP for Thurs, Fri, and Sat. The rest of the days, anyone can park on our side and leave their beer bottles behind. (They use to leave them across the street in the business' yard.) People parking along our street also have a better view into a couple of our townhomes.

Yes. They lie about a lot of things.

Lower Greenville is dead now. They successfully killed it in two months in my opinion. The activists are going to have to move to another neighborhood to have anything to do.

If I were the bowling lane people, I wouldn't want to build down here... there is no one here to sell the service to.

5800 Richmond Resident
5800 Richmond Resident

I live on 5800 Richmond, and we have ROP on both sides since 2008.

When we signed the papers, we were told the neighborhood association would pay for two hangtags for the first year ONLY. As soon as the ROP was approved, we had a check in our mailbox for $13 - each tag is $6.50. We never even cashed the check. We renew our tags every year - there's even a little reminder on the tag. It's called the expiration date!

If you live in the townhomes, which are worth more than my house, why are you complaining about $13?? Each unit gets to buy up to six hangtags - where do you get the dumb idea that the whole development is limited to just a few hangtags? That means you have the potential of having 84 hangtags.

If you have problems with your trash collection, do what I do - pick up the phone and call 3-1-1.

Have you even tried to read the paperwork? The neighborhood has a website to help you - www.residentparkingonly.com. I hope others in the neighborhood read this and ROP spreads further east.

Zzz1794
Zzz1794

It's not about $13. I canNOT purchase hang tags because me and 12 other units don't have an easement to the street but I they sold it to us the way you described it. Blatant lie to f*** with our street.

> which are worth more than my house,> complaining about $13??> where do you get the dumb idea

Please don't cop an attitude until you understand the situation.

> problems with your trash collection, pick up the phone and call 3-1-1

I guess I could but I am not the type to waste city services and time just to come empty my trash again. And so I think... ROP is a waste of city services and time.

And back to the topic (which I know I did the tangent on,) SUP is a waste. It has killed the allure of the neighborhood. And, it has wasted my time making me take my business to other neighborhoods just to buy milk and bread.

Zzz1794
Zzz1794

> you have this big gated parking lot so WTF is your problem?

4 spaces over flow for 15 units. 3 of which are always in use by a second car that doesn't fit in the garages. If you call that big, then fine. Thank God we get along great when playing musical cars.

But the point of the article was about the false or mis-leading stories these people tell to scare people into submission. I was trying to show another example where they told false stories and inaccurate information to get their agenda passed.

5800 Richmond Resident
5800 Richmond Resident

Oh i see - you live in the gated community and yes you are right - you don't have RPO.

I called the BelmontNA folks to ask about this comment. They said your development as 15 units and only the first and last counted due to the easement (piece of property touching the street). IF the other 13 people had signed the paperwork, you would have been included in the RPO. On the other hand you have this big gated parking lot so WTF is your problem.

And as to the bread issue - hey, ask Ms Hunt why she included the 7Eleven.

Ptalbot
Ptalbot

Avi is the Lower Greenville equivalent of the Homeowners Association busybody with too much time on his hands trying to make sure that the neighbors grass is the correct strain of St. Augustine. He's a pest.

LowerGreenvilleNeighbor
LowerGreenvilleNeighbor

Let's look at Splitsville, which seems to be a very cool large business in the middle of a shopping center...

From Splitsville's website

Age policy - 21 and up after 9pm

Dress code - Evening-casual attired is encouraged after 8pm every night. So just wear something presentable, yet comfortable. Think, "Dress to impress" but not to the T or anything

Number of bowling lanes - 17

The average square footage of a Splitsville Bowling Alley is 50,000sf

The proposed Lowest Greenville bowling alley had 8 lanes inside 27,000 square feet.

East Dallas res.
East Dallas res.

I live two blocks off of lowest Greenville and know all about Avi. While I will give him credit for making the non-partying folks like myself aware of the sometimes violent altercations that happen when the scummy, druken patrons start pouring out of the clubs at 2am, I am extremely disappointed that he would call up the arms against a bowling alley! He talks of wanting the area to be more retail however small, independent businesses are the very type that will want to come in, and will fit in, with our funky little neighborhood. Avi has made a career out of being the neighborhood activist but sometimes he goes too far. I don't get anyone who enjoys standing on lower Greenville, in the middle of the night, daughter in tow, filming a bunch of beligerent drunks.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

I think that you could probably support a "5 and Dime" and a small, family run pharmacy or "Notions" store, complete with a soda fountain if you just build a monorail from downtown to Lowest Greenville.

Avi could be the "Soda Jerk". He and Shutze could trade shifts.

Maybe even a portrait studio and a buggy whip retailer... The possibilities are endless.

I'm exploring and SUP for a "Variety" store.

Zeeba Neighba
Zeeba Neighba

Ok, so Avi is ruining the neighborhood. He has apparently found an effective way to make his influence felt. I, for one, have no idea how to organize and present an effective prescence to counter such social ludditry. It's useful to be informed of someone excerting an undue influence on the rest of us and getting other residents riled up, but detailing some ways in which other people of the neighborhood who might feel as you do could pose an effective counter prescence would keep this from just being a bunch of whining. I know being informed and voting is a given, but situations such as this seem to call for a bit more.

Avi S. Adelman
Avi S. Adelman

Let me say this one more time:

Why do you (or anyone posting here) insist that I was 'leading the band' to protest this bowling alley??

I never stood up at any podium to speak on this issue, either at the Plan Commission or City Council.

I barely commented on the issue on my blog.

I sent out one email to my neighbors explaining why this was a dumb idea.

Yet you have pegged me as the most influential person on Lowest Greenville, able to change opinions faster than anyone else in the area.

If I have such influence, would you mind telling me where it's stored, because it sure is not here at home.

mazda's revenge
mazda's revenge

what we have here, avi, is a failure to communicate...

Dick Hertze
Dick Hertze

Avi is a bad as the folks that buy a house to close to the airport then gripe about the planes. He has done nothing but bitch since moving in back around 1998. Avi shut up and move to Farmersville and start trying to change them.

Robert Kelly
Robert Kelly

While I don't agree with Avi on many things, as a resident of the area and a follower of the lower greenville saga- I distinctly remember Avi being against the SUP when it was first presented.

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

That is one small piece of very lame puzzle...one is quite sure he would like to wash his hands of all of it, yet it is still like starting a fire and only taking responsibility for just a few flames..

Stop destroying my hood!
Stop destroying my hood!

Fairview Texas (South of McKinney) is where they have a small upscale bowling alley...I mean all those people in those mansions in Fairview...how on earth do they handle a small bowling alley??

But geez....when did North of 635 become more hip and happening? Please dont make me want to move North Avi...I beg of you!!

http://www.splitsvillelanes.co...

GOGREENGO
GOGREENGO

Bring the bowling alley to the Bishop Arts

Avi S. Adelman
Avi S. Adelman

Thank you Dallas Observer for a new Facebook portrait.

Though I have to say that I may be short but not THAT round. And by the way, I am also not responsible for many of the plagues referenced in the Bible either or most of the issues that we call Lowest Greenville.

I love Jim Schutze and respect him ever since I met him when I was waiting tables at Dixie Lakewood too many years ago.

But Jim, you only called me because none of the other neighborhood leaders - some of whom I respect and some whom I ignore - would not talk to you about the bowling alley. My opinions are just that - mine. Villify me if you must, worse things have been written about me in the past and I am sure in the future.

Does anyone remember that I opposed the Specific Use Permit? Hello Bueller?? Does anyone notice that I have not been dealing with this issue in my usual strident manner?? I have been sitting out most of the stuff (but going to the meetings), but that is all. So to make it look like I lead the band down the street to City Hall is a little too much, don't you think?

The bowling alley concept was and will always be a regional bar concept that would not fit in the area. Take out the SUP factor and remember there is no parking in the area for it, they forecast $4 MILLION in sales annually (even though the Beagle's best year was $1 million) and it was a family-friendly bowling alley (as long as you did not mind you could not bring your under-18 kids in after 9pm).

Jamesroy
Jamesroy

There is no way a bowling alley can generate enough revenue to pay the rent. Unless they sell a lot of booze. Its a bad idea that is doomed for failure. Lowest Greenville is becoming a mix of a few bars, a few restaurants and few retail shops. This neighborhood will never like it was with artist everywhere. The property values are to high for that to happen. I miss the mid 90's also but that is over and will never come back to Greenville. As for the old Whole Foods location. I for one welcome our new Wall-Mart overlords.. Not really the only benefit of having a Wall-Mart there is it would make Avi's life a living hell...

Jd
Jd

Jim, This is what happens when Libtards get their way.

Darin
Darin

Don't you mean Teatards? This is about stopping things, and looking back to a better, safer, more "family oriented" America, on where white people can walk down the street without fear of having to explain that people are different to their children. This isn't a "libtard" issue as you put it. This is about conservative values. It is solidly in the Teatards Camp.

mazda's revenge
mazda's revenge

who the fuck do you think you are, june cleaver? or nancy fucking reagan???

Montemalone
Montemalone

I spent the 80s on Lowest Greenville.I shut up and danced.I served shrimp fettucine alfredo and cheesburgers at Arcadia Bar and Grill.I spun for drinks at Winedale.I miss it all.

brett
brett

This has been said 1000 times on this little piece of the internets, but avi could start "pleasantvilling" lower Greenville by cleaning up the shithole he calls a house and yard.

Stop destroying my hood!
Stop destroying my hood!

Yeah, that Bowling Alley/SpeakEasy in Austin has terrible trouble!!

What is wrong with Ari and Co? What a great idea to have a upscale bowling alley, those folks up north seem to have one and dont have any problems.

Guess I'll just go drown my sorrow at Ships why its still there

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

the upscale bowling alley in addison has been closed for awhile. while i love the idea of the dvelopment for lg, the bowling alley needs to be in deep ellum.

Stop destroying my hood!
Stop destroying my hood!

TexasDave60...while I also have a hard time imagining anything north of 635 and my mind also stops at Addison...Fairview.TX (Just south of McKinney with all the new mega mansions) is where they have a small upscale bowling alley

http://www.splitsvillelanes.co...

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

LULZ! It is too dam funny to see the rotten fruits of his labors..You guys let pork pie run rampant with his douchey articles for so long it cracks one up to see the worm turn...Lower Greenville deserves the impending WalMart and fake food truck lot..and the concept of local retail moving in to those spaces should make anyone laugh even harder.

G_David
G_David

Nice use of the word Libertine, one of my favorite establishements on that stretch.

Avi is just a little runt that thinks if he barks loud enough people will give a shit. There's a little 10-lane bowling alley in the town my grandmother lives in, in Missouri. And you know what? It has a bar. And you know what else? It's a blast. and nobody has ever been died in a knife fight.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I first learned of greenville because of Arcadia and I loved going to the red jacket. w/o the music scene, that neighborhood would be nothing but just another boring neighborhood in america.

Real
Real

Avi is funny. Without lowest Greenville, he has no life. So stop messing with him Jim. We all need something to do. I am sure avi will enlarge the picture of him and hang it in his house.

 
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