Editorial: Dallas ISD’s Edison middle school, not cement plant, is out of place
Published November 4, 2015
One key point has been lost in the debate surrounding the proposed move of a concrete plant from the base of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to an industrial site near Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center.
It is the school that is out of place, not the relocated plant.
Heavy industry already surrounds the school and has for years. There’s a GAF asphalt roofing plant to the east that emits foul-smelling odors. The former site of an infamous lead smelter is to the west. Railroad tracks out the school’s back door separate it from a huge industrial park.
Edison has not been in a suitable area for years, and now there is an opportunity to do something about it.
Parents and community groups recently expressed outrage when the Dallas City Council approved $2.5 million to help the Argos Ready Mix concrete plant move from near the Trinity Groves entertainment complex about two miles west to the industrial area behind Edison. The move seems to have lit a fire under the school district to acknowledge that Edison is in the wrong place.
Board president Eric Cowan says he “is supportive” of relocating Edison to a more appropriate site, adding that the area around Edison is going to grow industrially. “I think it is time to bulldoze [Edison] and sell the site, or keep it as a maintenance shop,” he said Wednesday. “It is not a great place for kids.”
The 500-student campus is in poor repair; its enrollment is at one-third capacity. The $1.6 billion bond issue that passed Tuesday called for spending $14 million to make repairs at Edison, but not to move it. Bond money is available to construct a new K-8 open enrollment school in the area; however, the school board hasn’t discussed long-term plans for Edison, Cowan said.
The school district and the West Dallas community must have this conversation soon. Dallas ISD officials already are looking at a number of potential sites in or near the Dallas Housing Authority’s Lakewest development for a new L.G. Pinkston High School. That could free up the former Pinkston site for elementary and middle school students, including those from Edison.
Relocating Edison into a residential neighborhood would put it in a more appropriate place. And moving the concrete plant from the base of the bridge would clear the way for new north-south streets, additional commercial and residential development toward Oak Cliff, and possibly even a hotel on the former plant site. These are wins for West Dallas.
This is an opportunity to unravel West Dallas’ chaotic, crazy-quilt history of incompatible industrial and residential uses, as well as invest in the future of schoolchildren. It is an opportunity that must not be squandered.