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First, a very brief history of Midway Road, which runs from Love Field Airport to the Shops of Willow Bend. As best as Rachel Howell, assistant manager of the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division at the Dallas Public Library, and her colleague Brian Collins can determine, the road dates back, oh, some 100 years. The first mention they can find of Midway Road was in October 1919, in a passing mention made in The Dallas News. But back then, it was called Midway Church Road, so named for a church established in 1893, when a minister consolidated two churches in December of that year.
"As of 1900, there was not a wagon road along that path," Held says, "though the church is there. That appears to be the origin." Per a 1929 street guide, Midway Church Road started just east of Love Field, then ran all the way to Belt Line; in 80 years, little has changed, save for its extension toward the north.
I point this out in advance of what's sure to be a contentious discussion at tomorrow's City Plan Commission meeting, where a name change for Midway Road is on the agenda courtesy the nephew of Jerry Jones. It's nothing particularly major: "An application to change the name of Midway Road, between Blue Bonnet Road and West Lovers Lane to 'Canyon Drive.'" The proposal, which comes with staff's recommendation for approval, would merely extend the existing Canyon Drive, which begins at Watauga Road and ends somewhere in that spaghetti bowl of street names in Bluffview.
But some plan commissioners expect this to be a contentious issue, mostly because the name change was proposed by one person who neighbors claim just wants to sell his house anyway. And that one person is? Jerry Mooty, an attorney for the Dallas Cowboys who lives on Midway and who, according to a March 2009 letter written to neighbors, says "no one can seem to find our house including the police or fire department," and, besides, "Canyon Drive is a more prestigious street name in the Bluffview community."
Mooty says he moved into the neighborhood four years ago, and that "at every neighborhood function, it's been a subject of conversation: how confusing the street is." Which is why he put together the petition and found 30 neighbors willing to sign. And then he ran into "some very politically savvy people in the neighborhood who were opposed to it."
Many of Mooty's Midway neighbors agree with his points; according to one letter on file with the commission, a decade-long homeowner's "delighted and elated." But just as many residents along the street -- and near it -- say he's just trying to sell his house, hoping that Canyon plays better with buyers than Midway. Writes one 70-year resident of Bluffview, "Changing the name at the whim of a property owner who wants a 'more prestigious street name' and whose house has been (or, may still be) on the market does not balance with all of the side effects connected with a street name change for residents of the effected section of Midway Road."
Mooty acknowledges, yes, he's had his house on the market since April -- "and I filed the petition well before that," he says, adding that he's "surprised" by how contentious a name change for such a short bit of street has become.
"I didn't mean for it to get contentious, but it has to some degree. Nobody's fighting and yelling, but everybody's manning up."