When Duncanville City Council approved six Capstones for the city’s Future Vision, one of their six goals was to have the “most engaged citizens in America.” Duncanville City Council and City management were happy to see this vision become a reality the past few months, and especially during the last two weeks. Hundreds of residents joined together to express their love and support for an undeveloped, 48-acre gem along Ten Mile Creek. The tract is often referred to as the Hamilton/Ladd tract.
Ten Mile (Tenmile) Creek rises just inside the northern corporate limits of Cedar Hill in southwestern Dallas County. The creek runs southeast for 25½ miles to its mouth on the Trinity River, 1½ miles north of the Ellis county line. It flows through the city limits of Cedar Hill, Duncanville, De Soto, Lancaster, Wilmer, and Ferris.
Engaged Citizens Attend Duncanville Council Meetings
Several hundred citizens showed up at the March 1 City Council meeting to support their petition, asking to keep the tract in its natural state and available to the public. The Council called a special meeting for March 7, to respond directly to the citizens’ concerns for the site located off Cedar Hill, Danieldale, and Santa Fe Roads. A presentation by the City Manager and Economic Development Director started the meeting, outlining the history of the property both before and after it was deeded to the City in 1998.
Duncanville City Attorney Robert Hager then explained to the Council and the 120 citizens attending the special meeting that the petition, unfortunately, didn’t comply with the City Charter.
Mayor Barry L. Gordon said, “We, the Council and citizens, appreciate the effort of City staff who provided us a historical perspective of the site as well as a path to move forward. Council and I also appreciate the inspired initiative demonstrated by our residents. Although the petition itself did not prove successful, Duncanville residents were listened to!”
Duncanville City Manager Provides Options
Duncanville City Manager Aretha R. Ferrell-Benavides then outlined several options that could provide a solution. The property could be donated to an educational organization, or given to a nonprofit group or foundation, one that would take responsibility for maintaining the property. After more discussion by Council, the residents were excited to receive a unique opportunity. The initiative allows them to work together, forming a nonprofit to own and operate the site in the way they envision.
City Manager Ferrell-Benavides said, “I have been a longtime advocate for increased community engagement in local government. The demonstration of a united voice on this issue is remarkable and inspiring. I hope that it is the beginning of a trend where involved citizens in our community come together to make a difference.”
Over the next few weeks, a group of 13 citizens will review options for future use and preservation of the land. The group will consist of seven members appointed by the Council and six representatives from the preservation advocacy groups. Together, they will make a presentation to the City Council for approval.
Economic Development Includes Open Spaces
“As I have previously presented, good economic development utilizes the community’s collective voice to determine the best future for our city,” said Gus Garcia, Managing Director of Development Services. “Many people think that economic development is only brick and mortar. However, successful economic development includes open spaces and maintaining protected natural resources.”
The undeveloped tract formerly belonged to the late Judge Hamilton and was part of the family’s ranch. In 1998, the property was deeded to the City of Duncanville by the current owners, the Ladd family, with deed restrictions requiring that 51% of the property should remain as a green space. At one time the Dr. Pepper Star Center was planned for a portion of the property. However, the company decided to move to another Duncanville location, which is now the site of the Duncanville Field House on Main Street at State Highway 67.
The Ladd Preservation Advocacy group and Duncanville City Council are expected to submit their recommendations for commission representatives to the City Manager and her staff within the next 30 days.