Vickery Meadow, Dallas
Vickery Meadow (also known to older locals as Vickery Meadows) is an ethnically-diverse neighborhood consisting almost exclusively of apartment complexes in North Dallas, Texas, United States. The Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation states the neighborhood is bounded by Northwest Highway, Royal Lane, Central Expressway, and Skillman/Abrams. The City of Dallas Office of Economic Development states that the boundaries of the Vickery Meadow Tax Increment Financing district, which was established in 2005, are “the east side of the intersection of US 75 (Central Expressway) and Park Lane and extends eastward along Park Lane to the ‘Five Points’ intersection at Park Lane, Fair Oaks Avenue and Ridgecrest Road.”  The area has been alternatively described “a dense swath of about 100 apartment complexes cradled by NorthPark Center and Whole Foods to the west and Half Price books to the south. It's an overlooked anthill, population 25,000, packed with people here by circumstance.”
The area is one of the most densely populated areas of Dallas and is home to many immigrants and refugees. The area was originally developed to provide housing for childless, upper income people in the mid-1970s. The area was built out in the early 1980s. With the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1988, the demographics shifted to a mostly low income, immigrant population from Latin America and other countries around the world. During that time, area public schools began to become overcrowded. The school district responded by opening new schools in the area, including one high school, one middle school, and several elementary schools; some apartment complexes were razed to make room for new schools. The Vickery Meadow Improvement District (VMID), a coalition of fifty area organizations, serves the Vickery Meadow area.
The area was originally developed as multifamily residences that provided housing for an influx of people to the Dallas area that began in the 1970s. When it was fully built out, Vickery Meadow had 15,500 apartments and 2,300 condos in an area of 2.86 square miles.
Many of these residents were described by Michael E. Young of The Dallas Morning News as "young, hip, and reasonably well off." They reportedly planned to stay in Vickery Meadow for a short time before buying houses in the Dallas suburbs.
In 1988, the U.S. federal government passed the Fair Housing Act, which, under most circumstances, prohibits any policy that excludes families with children from living in an apartment complex. The passage of the act—which forced the complexes to admit children—and a rental market recession, caused a decrease in rent prices and a shift in the area's demographics throughout the 1990s. Immigrants and refugees from Mexico, Central America, Bosnia, Burma, Bhutan, and parts of Africa moved into the apartment complexes. The infrastructure that existed was largely not designed for families. The Vickery Meadow Improvement District, a coalition of fifty area organizations, opened in 1993 to improve the quality of life of area residents and stabilize the area real property and real property investments. In 2004, Casie Pierce, the executive director of the Vickery Meadow Public Improvement District, argued in an editorial in The Dallas Morning News that Vickery Meadow ought to be redeveloped into modern urban renewal.
Government and infrastructure
Vickery Meadow is within the Northeast Division of the Dallas Police Department, which is headquartered at 9915 East Northwest Highway; sectors 210 and 240 cover portions of Vickery Meadow. Vickery Meadow is in the service area of Fire Station 37 of the Dallas Fire Department; the station opened in 1954 to serve the community of Vickery, then a rural area. Two city council districts, 9 and 13, serve sections of Vickery Meadow. As of 2008 the representatives of the districts are Sheffie Kadane and Mitchell Rasansky, respectively. In 2005, the City of Dallas established the Vickery Meadow Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to improve the real estate market and encourage economic development in its area. It is located on the east side of Park Lane, extending from U.S. Route 75 (Central Expressway) to the "Five Points" intersection.
The Vickery Meadow Public Improvement District (VMPID) was established in 1993. In 1998, 2003, and 2008 the district was renewed. The Vickery Meadow Management Corporation operates the district.
Vickery Meadow is located in District 114 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008 Will Hartnett represents the district. Vickery Meadow is within District 16 of the Texas Senate; as of 2008 John Carona represents that district. Vickery Meadow is in Texas's 32nd congressional district; as of 2008 Pete Sessions represents the district.
The area's transit authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, manages public transport in Vickery Meadow. Bus routes through the area include 428, 502, 506, 583, and 702. The Park Lane Station of the Red Line also serves Vickery Meadow. The Parkland Health & Hospital System (Dallas County Hospital District) operates the Vickery Health Center.
Vickery Meadow is the mostly densely populated community in Dallas, and many of its residents are immigrants and refugees. Vickery Meadow attracts refugees because of its inexpensive housing, access to health care facilities, and public transportation. The greater Vickery Meadow area, consisting of 5.3 square miles (14 km2) of land, including open parkland, had around 53,000 residents by 2004. The core Vickery Meadow area, known as the Vickery Meadow Improvement District and consisting of 2.86 square miles (7.4 km2), had 40,646 people. Of the population, 5,303 were under 6 years old, 3,932 were ages 6 through 13, 1,670 were ages 14–17, 27,555 were ages 18–64, and 2,186 were 65 or older. 39% of the people were considered to be in poverty. The average residency period was less than five years. Of the population about 40% were Hispanic or Latino, 32% were White, 22% were African-American, and 6% were other groups, mostly including immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The Vickery Meadow Improvement District said that the true Hispanic and Latino population may be higher due to illegal immigration.
In 2004 Vickery Meadow had 14,860 housing units, including 12,558 apartment units, 2,300 condominium units, and two single-family houses. A total of 102 multi-family residential properties existed in Vickery Meadow, with the smallest having six housing units and the largest having 1,084 housing units.
Primary and secondary schools
Elementary schools serving Vickery Meadow and within the PID include Jack Lowe, Sr. Elementary School, Lee A. McShan, Jr. Elementary School, and Jill Stone Elementary School at Vickery Meadow. Other elementary schools serving Vickery Meadow include L. L. Hotchkiss Elementary School and Dan D. Rogers Elementary School.
Sam Tasby Middle School and Emmett J. Conrad High School serve most of Vickery Meadow, and are both within the improvement district. A small portion of Vickery Meadow is zoned to Benjamin Franklin Middle School and Hillcrest High School.
Stone Elementary includes two main buildings, with one including the administrative offices, the media center, and several classrooms and the other including common areas and public function facilities, and modular classroom buildings with individual telephone and toilet facilities. The two story main Stone building has outdoor stairwells and faces an inner courtyard. Jayne Noble Suhler of The Dallas Morning News said "[i]n a neighborhood of apartments, [Stone Elementary] fits right in[...]"
McShan, located on an 8.2-acre (33,000 m2) site, includes 89,666 square feet (8,330.2 m2) of space with 33 core classrooms, three special education classrooms, dedicated classrooms for art, science, and technology classes, a 400 seat auditorium, and a gymnasium. Lowe has 89,000 square feet (8,300 m2) of space with 34 classrooms. Tasby has 166,000 square feet (15,400 m2) of space with 26 core classrooms. Tasby and Lowe share a single campus and several common areas; the two schools have their designated entrances in the school building.
History of schools in Vickery Meadow
In the 1990s the population of Vickery Meadow's children increased. Therefore the student population at the public schools increased, requiring the building of new campuses. The Vickery Meadow Improvement District and Dallas ISD worked together to build new campuses.
In 1991 Dallas ISD officials proposed that Hotchkiss Elementary School reopen as a neighborhood school during the 1992-1993 school year. The Montessori program previously at Hotchkiss would be moved to Dealey Elementary School. The proposed attendance zone for Hotchkiss was a triangular area bounded by Fair Oaks Avenue, Northwest Highway, and White Rock Creek. The proposed Hotchkiss neighborhood would relieve Kramer, Pershing, Preston Hollow, and Dan D. Rogers schools. In 1992 federal judge Barefoot Sanders blocked the reopening of Hotchkiss, so school board members filed an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 1994 Hotchkiss re-opened as a neighborhood school. The school expected to receive 875 students; it actually received almost 925. The school had to use 17 portable classrooms, and two classrooms had to be converted into food storage rooms. Judy Zimny, the principal of Hotchkiss, said that most of the students came from the apartments in the Abrams Road, Northwest Highway, and Skillman Road area. The school was 42% black, 38% Hispanic, and 20% White. The school is located within what was then a mostly-White residential neighborhood, but in 1994 most of the White students to Hotchkiss were bussed in from other locations. About 100 students from other areas were voluntarily enrolled in Hotchkiss so Hotchkiss's racial demographics were more balanced.
In a 1998 journal article by American School & University, Michael Brown, the executive director of Dallas ISD's facilities planning department said that the bond program did not have sufficient funds for a new school. The district took money from the general operating fund, which would be reimbursed after the following bond program would be passed. Vickery Meadows Elementary School opened as the first school in Vickery Meadow; in 2005 it was renamed Jill Stone Elementary School at Vickery Meadow. When it opened, Vickery Meadow Elementary took in 400 students. Previously students who were bussed to other campuses in the Dallas area were now able to walk to their zoned schools. As of 1998, all students at Vickery Meadow Elementary were immersed in completely English classes for eight weeks before being placed in bilingual or ESL classes. The district anticipated that the school would be 75% Hispanic.
In the 2000s four apartment complexes were demolished to make room for four schools. In 2005 Lee McShan Elementary School, built with $12 million U.S. dollars as part of a 2002 bond program, opened with pre-Kindergarten–sixth grade students; the sixth grade would be transferred to the middle school the following year. In August 2006 Lowe Elementary, built with $12 million U.S. dollars, opened with kindergarten–fifth grade, relieving Hexter, L.L. Hotchkiss, Kramer, Robert E. Lee, Preston Hollow, and Dan D. Rogers elementary schools. During the same year Tasby and Conrad opened. Tasby, built with $20 million, relieved Franklin Middle School. The lot which Tasby and Lowe occupied formerly was The Villas at Vickery, a retail and residential complex built in 1976. Before the openings of the Tasby and Conrad schools, Benjamin Franklin Middle School and Hillcrest High School had the zoning for most of Vickery Meadow. Other portions were zoned to Bryan Adams High School and Hill Middle School. Before Lowe opened, Hexter, Lakewood, and Preston Hollow elementary schools served sections of Vickery Meadow. The areas that were zoned to Hexter and Lakewood were rezoned to Hotchkiss, and the areas zoned to Preston Hollow were rezoned to Lowe.
The Skillman Southwestern Branch Library of the Dallas Public Library, at 5707 Skillman Street at Southwestern Boulevard, is south of and serves Vickery Meadow. The library opened in July 1996 and received dedication on August 18, 1996. A 1978 bond authorized by Dallas voters lead to the construction of the Skillman Southwestern library. Ramiro Salazar, then the director of the Dallas library system said in 1996 that the opening of Skillman Southwestern satisfied "the needs of a community that didn't have an accessible library for a long time."
In 1997 the Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church started the Vickery Meadow Learning Center (VMLC) as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The program originally consisted of English-language classes taught in various locations throughout the community. The program gained its own property in 1999 and established early education classes in 2002. As of 2008 the learning center, open to Vickery Meadow residents, offers English classes for adults and pre-Kindergarten children and citizenship classes for no charge.
Love Is Vickery Ministry, started in 2009, is a Christian ministry affiliated with the American Missionary Fellowship. The ministry currently operates within several apartment units throughout Vickery Meadow and was started by resident Danny Domingo. Programs include a computer lab for skills training, ESL classes, after school tutoring, new family assistance and a youth summer soccer league. All of the programs are offered free of charge, made possible through volunteers and donations from various churches.
Heart House Dallas, founded in 2000, is a non profit organization that runs a free afterschool educational program that provides a safe haven and academic support to at-risk children, while encouraging them to become good citizens. Heart House Dallas works primarily in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood and serves children in grades K-8 from various apartment communities.
The Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas is located in Vickery Meadow. The hospital, which opened in 1966, has 866 beds and around 1,200 physicians. The hospital is the largest business within Vickery Meadow.
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