It was all hands on stage this morning at Jubilee Park, where the new community center's dedication drew the city's best and the brightest for an hour of speeches, dancing kids and cookies.
Just a block from the new homes along Congo Street, which bcWorkshop celebrated last weekend with a low-key picnic, the ribbon-cutting for the $6-million community center afforded an opportunity for Mayor Tom Leppert, Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to show their support for the neighborhood, along with city council members, city staff and volunteers who work directly in Jubilee Park. Walt Humann, who's devoted years to tree-lined Jubilee Park and its namesake neighborhood, and T. Boone Pickens, who ponied up the dough for the new community center, will share the honor of having their names on the place.
There's a good reason this morning's event drew heavy hitters from so many parts of the city machine, Humann said. From the DPD substation nearby to DISD success story O.M. Roberts Elementary, Humann said, "We want to prove the concept that you've got to address community revitalization in a comprehensive way." What's taking place in Jubilee Park, he said, should be a model for communities like it around the country. "What a lost resource we have in inner-city America," he said. "We ought to be ashamed."
Pickens began his remarks by recalling the good timing Humann had when he approached him about the Jubilee Park project. "It caught me at a time when I'd made some money," he said to a chorus of aw-shucks laughter from the crowd. What sold him on funding the community center, he said, was Humann's assurance that, "'The community will deliver if you deliver.' I tell you what, Walt, we hit a home run," Pickens said.
Brown briefly rattled off statistics on the drop in crime in Jubilee Park over the last few years -- 26 percent in the last year, and 20 percent or more each of the few years before that. "You hear a common theme?" Brown asked. "Jubilee Park is a safe neighborhood."
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"Neighborhoods are like a puzzle," Leppert explained in his turn at the microphone. "You now what the picture should look like," but the challenge, he said, is knowing how the pieces fit together. The new community center is just a building, he said, but it gives Jubilee Park residents "a place where they can come and dream. And that's how you change communities."