Most of the time, when the subject of scrap-metal recyclers comes before the Dallas City Council the conversation grows contentious, with southern sector council members and residents wondering, yet again, why their part of the city, which lacks grocery stores and movie theaters and other quality-of-life basics, is the one stuck collecting the trash. That was not the case moments ago, when, separately, Gold Metal Recyclers and Okon Metals' representatives went before the council to ask for planned development districts that will allow them to grow and alter their operations on South Lamar.
We saw what Gold Metal has planned back in November, when, with the blessings of then-Mayor Tom Leppert and Dwaine Caraway and Carolyn Davis and other council members, Neil and Kenny Goldberg debuted their "organic, mixed-use, walkable development along South Lamar." Okon wants to plant its own "enhanced streetscape," per the council's agenda today.
City staff suggested the council deny both applications, insisting that "expanding the industrial uses and making the non-conforming uses conforming does not enhance or promote the quality of life for the neighborhood."
The City Plan Commission disagreed, suggesting the council OK both agenda items.
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And the council did, moments ago, just after it passed that ordinance clamping down on payday lenders, but not before one speaker against Gold Metal's application reiterated the familiar refrain: "Every time you wanna put some trash somewhere, you put it in the southern sector," she said, her voice breaking. "It's time to put some where they live. They're the ones making the money off it."
Another speaker against the Goldbergs' application, said he knew his protests were in vain, because, after all, they were the ones who "saved the fireworks" at Fair Park last Fourth of July.
Others came to speak for the project -- some, employees of Gold Metal; others, longtime residents tired of the "drinkin' and druggin'" taking place out in the open. "South Dallas has been rundown all my 47 years," said one man. "No one has come in for change. Now there'a a change, and everyone's against it. ... We've dealt with drugs, criminals all my time in South Dallas. Let's see South Dallas look better. That's all we're asking."
Carolyn Davis, the only council member to speak before the votes were taken, said both projects will give "that whole area a new face-lift," from Colonial to Metropolitan to 45. She said this would be her focus for the next two years: "I am going to ensure that neighborhood gets the very best it deserves in that community."