Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The Cigarette Hill neighborhood at Simpson Stuart Road and Lancaster Road in Dallas is in serious need of improvements, including street lights, sidewalks and road work.
Dallas has a new investment plan for the Cigarette Hill neighborhood, named for side streets like Camel and Pall Mall.
Near Lancaster Road and Simpson Stuart Road just off I-20, the neighborhood in the middle of the City of Dallas seems like a piece of old rural Texas.
Residents complain the neighborhood has been overlooked for decades the no sidewalks, no storm sewers, few streetlights, and overgrown roads to name just a few problems.
"We pay taxes like everybody else, but this is an area that's not really built up," said Joyce Wade, a resident of Cigarette Hill for more than 50 years.
She and her husband Billy live in a home where they say the lack of city maintenance for the roadside drainage ditch has left it so filled with dirt that it no longer carries water.
"When it rains, the water just runs down to the yard. I mean, it just covers the yard here," Billy Wade said.
The Cigarette Hill area is very close to other Southern Dallas neighborhoods that have proper lighting, wider streets and complete sidewalks.
"We were going to have to pay out of our pockets to get sidewalks brought in, and so it was a 'no go' and none of the neighbors were willing to do it," Joyce Wade said.
But now, Cigarette Hill is one of just five Dallas Neighborhoods included in the city's Neighborhood Investment Program.
The goal of NIP is to focus city resources in a defined area to produce clear results versus spreading city money thin in many places.
"We're a large city. We've got to generate the money to make sure that those citizens have the same amenities that all parts of Dallas have," Dallas Councilman Tennell Atkins said.
A city briefing on Cigarette Hill for a Dallas City Council Committee this month said two-thirds of the residential lots in the area are vacant.
The briefing said it would cost about $15 million to provide sidewalks and street improvements, which could also make the area more attractive for redevelopment.
"First the city has to do something to make it better," Billy Wade said.
The neighborhood is also near a DART Rail station, the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital, a Dallas Police Substation and the University of North Texas at Dallas campus.
"If you go there and look at it, the opportunity is so great, the terrain, the elevation, everything is there to make something worthwhile, to be part of the city of Dallas. We've just got to find the money to enhance this development," Atkins said.
"I’m going to keep a wait and see attitude and see what’s going to happen," said Joyce Wade.