That Fancy Golf Course Will Help Southern Dallas Only if it Doesn't Act Like a Fancy Golf Course

So by now it begins to be obvious there are two ways to go on this city-owned private high-dollar golf course being proposed in a poor neighborhood. Not one and a half ways. Not three ways. Only two, and they point in opposite directions.

1) Help the 'hood. 2) Dig a moat.

The Reverend Gerald Britt, vice president of public policy at CitySquare, a nonprofit devoted to hunger, health and housing, has an op-ed essay in The Dallas Morning News this morning sort of defending the fancy private golf course the city wants to build in a desperately poor part of the city but also sort of challenging the city to do the decent thing.

By decent thing I mean Britt pushes the city to use the development of a ritzy private golf course on city-owned land at Interstate 45 and Loop 12 in southern Dallas as an opportunity and a launching pad for a concerted program of job training, housing and small business development. He says the golf course that the city wants to develop with AT&T and SMU could be a boon to the very poor area around it if the city takes specific active steps to make it a boon.

Britt calls for job-training, business development and housing, all tied to the golf course. And he's right: If even some of what he proposes got done, it would indicate that the golf course is not what I think it is -- the opposite.

Yeah. The opposite of all that. I think the site may have been chosen not for any connection with the surrounding area at all but for the opposite reason: The golf course site is cut off, separated and, shall we say, protected from its environs by a fairly vast buffer of undevelopable flood plain and territory that the city has deemed to be park land, although that will be the day.

It's not connected to its surroundings. It's cut off. Now let me get to another question, and please don't take it as unfriendly in any way. Just talking about real life.

When the City Council talked about this deal, somebody suggested it could cost as much as $150,000 to join. The city manager said no. It will be more than that. So just for grins, let's tick that number up to $200,000 per membership.

How many people interested in paying $200,000 to go play golf with each other do you know who would want to make their golf game a big opportunity for community involvement? This is no knock on golf, I promise. But do you think of golf as being way out there on the frontiers of diversity outreach? Have they let the Mormons in yet?

I do not think of golf that way. I do not especially want to pick a big fight with people who are willing to pay two hundred grand to go do what they want to do and be left the hell alone about it. Fine. Go for it.

I'm just saying that when I look at this deal, I see the exact opposite of what Gerald Britt is proposing. I see an exclusive preserve that you won't even be able to see from the road, with a couple of armed and uniformed can-we-help-you guys out by the gate.

So maybe I'm wrong. Way too negative, as per usual. No, Britt will be proved right, because those rich golfers are going to turn that club into one big liberal experiment. That would be great.

I'm just telling you to watch. See what happens. Because this deal goes one way or the other. You think I'm wrong? You say we can have our cake and eat it, too? We can have a ritzy private golf course and a mechanism for meaningful social change all in one? Hey, I'd love to be wrong, but I need some examples. Talk to me about the affordable housing, job training, community outreach and hunger programs at the Dallas Country Club. I'm all ears. Hey. Can women play there whenever they want to yet?

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