The Dallas Independent School District's designs on land around O.M. Roberts Elementary School may be on a time-out for the next six months, but the folks who stand to lose their homes and jobs aren't stepping down their protest. They staged yet another protest outside 3700 Ross Ave. last night before the DISD board of trustees' meeting, armed with a new banner, a flag and matching slogan T-shirts that laid out their complaint for passing cars: "DISD is selfishly trying to steal our homes."
Protesters didn't take much comfort from the school district's delays, figuring that drawing out the process would only make it tougher to keep their opposition fired up. "It's a big, big smokescreen," said Paul Tovar, who works at Vickery Wholesale Greenhouse, the biggest business that would be gobbled up in the land purchase. When the district makes its next move, Tovar said, It'll be "late November of December, when we're already so busy" with holiday business.
Jan Browning, who runs Arts District Flower Market, said closing Vickery would make it tougher for her to find suppliers for her business, and said the way she sees it, the district's hoping the opposition just peters out. "They think everybody is going to forget about it, and then they're going to do what they want to do," she said. "We all want a new school for the children. We want it done in as fair a manner as possible. And there is a way to do that without destroying the neighborhood."
As sheer coincidence would have it, while the sign-toters manned the sidewalk outside DISD headquarters, "concerned parents of O.M. Roberts students" had been invited by to meet at the school to hear more about plans for a new school building. Jubilee Park resident Shawn Busari caught up with us later on at 3700 Ross Ave. to tell us about the meeting, where, she said, DISD executive director of construction services Phil Jimerson came with news that broke her up. DISD was already offering $50,000 for the house she grew up in, but she was broken up to learn last night that they'd be leveling her house for a parking lot.
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Standing outside the DISD boardroom, Busari pointed at the steps and the sidewalk around her. "Look at all this concrete," she said. "That's the future of our homes. I just look forward to the tents and the cookouts we're going to have in our new parking lot."
Jimerson also mentioned, she said, that the district was looking into grants for subsidized and low-income housing for displaced Jubilee Park residents.
Inside the boardroom, newly elected trustee Eric Cowan was sworn in, and the board voted unanimously to keep president Adam Medrano and all the other board officers in place.
Former trustee Ron Price caught the board meeting from the cheap seats last night, joking on his way out the building that he'd been "running the school board from the back seat." As he passed Busari on the sidewalk, she asked him why the district needed her house. "You're not going to lose your house," he reassured her, telling her he had more he could say without a reporter around. Of course, by the time the district makes the call about where to build the new school, it will have been a while since Price had much say in the matter.