City Hall

Hunt Asks: What Makes a "World-Class City"?

As Sam notes below, Angela Hunt was the lone council member to vote against paying architect Santiago Calatrava $10.7 million to design a second version of the Margaret McDermott Bridge. The District 14 council rep believes spending all those many millions on a "signature" component added to a bridge TxDOT desperately needs to replace due to its poor condition sends "the wrong message." Her colleagues disagree: "This is Dallas," said Vonciel Jones Hill. "This is how we do things. We do it in a big way." To which Steve Salazar added: "No one remembers the little things we do."

A short while ago, Hunt took to her blog to address those comments and the underlying belief that this city cannot be "world class" without such expensive baubles. Why oh why, she asks, do we chase after so hollow an appellation?

Does it reflect an expansive, visionary belief in the future of Dallas? A noble effort to create lasting landmarks so that our fair city may one day be considered in the same breath as London and Paris?

Or does it reveal a pathetic neediness to be noticed by foreign tourists and cited by visiting journalists? Or worse, is it an indictment of egotistical leadership intent on leaving their imprimatur on massive public projects, no matter the cost?

I think it's a little bit of all of that.

But most residents I talk with aren't really interested in being a "world-class city." They just want a great city to call home. Unfortunately, as we heard today, many city leaders dismiss that as too prosaic. They figure even if we could fix all the potholes, mow all the parks, address all the code complaints, pick up all the stray animals -- all of those things will just be forgotten in time. But an ornamental bridge, a convention center hotel, a big toll road -- those are lasting monuments.

Read the whole thing. Then get your souvenir coffee mug. Then fill it with beer you bought on a formerly dry side of town. And don't forget to tip your council members.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky