Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News
A Dallas program to rid neighborhoods of vacant building with many complaints celebrated 250 demolitions on Thursday.
It's normal for cities to celebrate growth with ceremonial dirt shoveling, breaking ground on something soon to be built. In South Dallas it's just the opposite, the site of bulldozers and dump trucks tearing down a blighted home is cause for applause.
Dallas' Grow South program tore down it's 250th home this year.
"Today we get to celebrate something," said Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The house located in the 1300 block of Baden Street is the only home on the street and had been vacant for years.
Dallas code compliance officers said they received at least 33 complaints about the home despite it being in a fairly unpopulated area and all efforts to work with the owner of the home which was valued at $19,000 had failed.
Dallas vice officers were also well acquainted with the house because it was a frequent source of arrests for prostitution, drug use and public intoxication -- problems that used to spill into the newly renovated Tama Park.
Dewonna Manning says people at the home made using the park unbearable. Empty alcohol bottles and used condoms dotted the landscape. "My son actually used to be scared of the park," she said.
Manning is happy the one home on Baden Street is gone, it means her son and his cousins can enjoy the park's new facilities but they say there's just one thing missing, other children for them to play with. "Usually we're the only ones here," she said.
Dallas city councilman Dwaine Caraway said most of the money for the Grow South program is coming from donations from people and organizations in North Dallas and that must change.
Caraway is challenging the more than 250 churches in his southern sector to ante up so more work can be done.
"If indeed those 264 churches would take the initiative to write a check for $250, we can go to 500 to 750 (houses)," said Carraway.