Perhaps we can start by re-visiting the neighborhood plan that was developed by neighborhood residents and approved by city council in 2009. You can find the complete Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Plan at:
The stated purpose of the neighborhood plan is to provide a guide for future action, growth and development. The plan provides a ready made list of improvements and steps that residents want to see in the neighborhood. In turn city staff can use the plan to prioritize capital improvement projects and most importantly identify and prioritize funding mechanisms for those projects.
There are 22 goals under four major headings that are part of neighborhood plan. The headings and their descriptions are listed below:
Community Facilities and Public Health
Maintain and enhance the neighborhood parks, community centers, and cultural events that promote healthy lifestyles and highlight the historic character of the Dignowity Hill neighborhood
Crime and Public Safety
Improve the well being of the community by eliminating criminal activity through improved public safety measures to ensure that all community members especially children are able to work and play without fear in a safe environment
Coordinate and integrate development of a mix of neighborhood businesses that serve the immediate residents in the vicinity and establish housing options with diverse age and density that are walkable and secure
Transportation, Infrastructure and Drainage
Work with partners and neighbors to enhance the aesthetics of the area by improving sidewalks and road infrastructure to create a safe and friendly environment for pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists
Work toward achieving the goals and objectives that are laid out in the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Plan
In the past five years the neighborhood in partnership with city and elected officials has made significant strides in addressing some of the goals of the neighborhood plan with some success in pushing crime out and improving public safety. The economic piece is starting to gain some traction with the coming of Alamo Brewery and other business ventures in and around the neighborhood. Housing, especially large infill housing has yet to get any significant footing in the neighborhood although that may be changing soon as demand for housing close to downtown is gaining momentum and developers are eyeing larger tracts within the neighborhood. The one area where there is dire need of improvement is infrastructure and drainage improvements.
|View from Lockwood Park|
It's also helpful to understand that the Dignowity Hill neighborhood plan was developed and approved before there was an Easpoint, before the Promise Zone, before there was the Eastside Promise Neighborhood Grant, and before there was the Choice Grant, which by the way does not include or affect Dignowity Hill. The grant initiatives are all good in and of themselves because they address specific challenges associated with improving educational outcomes, addressing an extremely economically distressed area of the Eastside and bring much needed public investment. The reality, however, is that Dignowity as a neighborhood has been working on the vision thing way before any of these initiatives existed.
The interesting thing about the vision question is that all of us in the neighborhood most likely have an image of what the neighborhood can become or even what it should become. That is why visioning ought to be an exercise in collective thoughtful expression. I also believe that the neighborhood is reaching a tipping point that was set in motion in the mid 2000's by private investors who saw the potential of the neighborhood. They were willing to take a financial risk on the Eastside and in Dignowity. That wave of newcomers also brought along the notion of building community and finding ways to sustain the character and social fabric of the neighborhood. The question now is where do we want to go from here?
|Ella Austin Community Center-Auditorium Entrance|
The vision question is important. It's time that we as a neighborhood pause a bit and do some reflecting on what next.
|Cherry Modern On Cherry Street|