The Kiestwood neighborhood in southeast Dallas turns 60 this month, and in Texas years, that's old. Raymond Crawford, who lives in the home where he grew up, hosted a well-attended birthday party for the close-knit neighborhood at the Southwood United Methodist Church last night, and both Mayor Mike Rawlings and Councilman Scott Griggs showed up to give the ol' neib a howya doin', happy birthday.
Crawford, no stranger to Unfair Park thanks to his gas-drilling activism, welcomed the crowd, and before passing the mic to Mayor Mike presented him with a booklet of ideas for Dallas from community members. "I read in the paper a couple weeks ago that he's very big on big hairy ideas," Crawford said, handing the mayor an over-sized portfolio covered in brown hair like the coat of an old brown poodle.
"Not anymore, but when I was younger, that looks like my chest," Rawlings joked, promising that he would read all 115 ideas. The mayor took the podium and laid out many of his concerns and hopes for Dallas. "Some people have asked me [if] am I enjoying it yet," he said of his new gig, "and I said I think so." He said he feels a bit like a 16-year-old with a new car. As in: He likes it, he's confident, but he's cautious not to mess up a good opportunity.
Harkening back to his campaign speeches, he stressed the importance of growing southern Dallas and of improving Dallas's schools. "I'm going to make sure that I keep my focus on southern Dallas and education, and the rest will take care of itself," he said.
Griggs picked up where the mayor left off, stressing that Dallas must "return to the basics." We have enough "high-budget projects" to attract tourists and commuters, he said, adding that quality-of-life spending has decreased over the past decade.
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One Kiestwood resident stood up and noted his community's continued local engagement: "We only have to look at this room to see that we've done everything right." He noted the diversity of the crowd, a mix of ages and races impossible to characterize.
Among the longest-standing Kiestwood residents was Lillye "Lil" England, a 92-year-old who has been living in her home since May 1, 1961. "I looked at my husband, and I said I want this house," she said of the first time she laid eyes on the quaint three-bedroom with the kitchen facing Bonnywood Lane.
"The biggest change is that there hasn't been a change, which is very good," Crawford said of the neighborhood and its long-standing residents. "It's a Leave It to Beaver neighborhood with a 21st century twist," he said.