An Open Letter to the Duncanville Council on Revising History:

Filed under: Community |

The following is an open letter submitted to by former Duncanville Councilmember Grady Smithey

November 20, 2012

Grady Smithey

At the last Best Southwest Regional Transportation Meeting a curious attempt at revising history was made by a current Duncanville Councilwoman who has been in office long enough to know better.  At the meeting, a former Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) employee remarked that he missed David Green and Grady Smithey who had done so much for Duncanville and southwest Dallas County.  The councilwoman proceeded to tell him that neither David nor I “had never done a d*** thing for Duncanville or this area”.

He laughed when he related this to me and said anyone with any sense knows what we had done for the area.  I laughed also, but then I thought that maybe I should set the record straight on this issue before any more attempts at revising history are made.

First, let me say that David Green was an outstanding elected official and public servant in Duncanville and our area.  Look at his record.  Before he moved to Duncanville, he served on several important boards for the City of Dallas and was Chairman of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce.  In Duncanville, he became active in the Citizens on Patrol volunteer group and served for three years on the Planning and Zoning Commission which rezoned all of Duncanville.  Politically, he served three years as Councilmember from District One and eight years as Mayor.

During his years as Mayor, we brought in more than $100 million in new business tax evaluation.  He explained and pioneered the “New Urbanism” concept which led to construction of Main Station and the Main Street redevelopment project.  He represented our area on the National League of Cities Transportation Policy Committee and on the U.S. Council of Mayors.  The last large economic development achievement in Duncanville was bringing W&B Refrigeration Company to relocate and consolidate their Dallas and Garland operations to Duncanville – bringing a number of good new jobs and payroll dollars to our city.  We can thank Monte Anderson, Earle Jones and David Green for that increase to Duncanville employment and tax base.  That history cannot be revised.

David Green is a deacon in the Baptist church where he has been member for six decades.  Those who know him respect him greatly for the Christian gentleman that he always has been and continues to be.

Now what about Grady Smithey?  What have I ever done for Duncanville?  In 1950, when I was 8, my family moved into the Duncanville School District in which my mother Mary Smithey (for whom the PACE School is named) taught in the elementary school.  I graduated in 1960 from DHS as an All District and Honorable Mention All Dallas County football lineman.  I graduated from North Texas State University (now UNT) in 1964 and in June 1965, came back with my bride Judy to live in Duncanville.

Okay, so what did I do to be of service to my hometown and our area?  First, I helped coach Little League football for four years. I helped coach Little League Girls Softball for five years.  After one year fellowship in Washington DC working on the Senate Staff of Pete Domenici of NM and the staff of the House Committee on Agriculture, I came home in Duncanville.

I was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in 1975 on which I served six years, three as Chairman.  During my tenure we tripled park acreage in Duncanville and built Harrington Park, our only large recreational park.

I ran for Council 1984 and represented District Four until 1994.  During my first ten years on the council, I worked to pass the two largest bond packages in Duncanville’s history.  My major interest was to obtain sufficient funding to construct our major thoroughfares and secondary collector streets which were in deteriorating condition in the 1980’s.  City Manager Dan Dodson and City Engineer Dennis Schwartz were my mentors in assessing actions needed to improve our infrastructure.  My job was to find the necessary dollars for the projects.  That I did with our bonds plus outside matching dollars from Dallas County and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).

In 1985, our late County Commissioner Chris Semos and I worked together to formulate the 50 / 50 cost sharing method now used by Dallas County on all cooperative road projects.  Michael Morris, Transportation Director at NCTCOG was invaluable in helping us plan and finance road and signalization improvements.  In summation, in the 27-year period from 1985 through 2012, I was able to bring into Duncanville more than $28 million in projects for our internal streets.

An achievement for our Best Southwest area I feel most proud of occurred in 1989 when I persuaded Dallas County Judge Lee Jackson of the importance of representation for our combined cities as a voting member of the NCTOG Regional Transportation Council (RTC) Prior to September 1989, only single cities with population of 50,000 or more had a vote on the RTC.  The RTC allocated federal road and clean air mitigation funds in our urbanized area.  I pointed out to Judge Jackson that the combined populations of Cedar Hill, Duncanville, DeSoto and Lancaster were twice the number of the RTC member city of Richardson.  With the creation of the “Cluster Cities” those combined with more than 50,000 in population were granted a seat at the table.  In September 1989 I became our four BSW cities first representative on the RTC.  I held that position for 13 years 1989 to 1994, and again from 1998 to 2006.  Mayor Rob Franke of Cedar Hill currently occupies that position, continuing our tradition of strong, vocal representation on transportation issues.

RTC service enabled me to do much work with the staff of TxDOT both locally and in Austin.  That led to my appointment by Governor Perry to a statewide advisory committee, and in 2007, to one of the three gubernatorial appointments to the Study Committee for implementation of SB 792.  Three Senators, three Legislators and the three of us appointed by the Governor attended hearing on SB 792 provisions in Houston,San Antonio and Dallas.  On this committee I served with future Chairs of both the State Senate and House Transportation Committee and I maintain my relationship with them on transportation issues.

I have championed transportation projects in the BSW area and beyond. Several are in the city limits of Dallas.  I am responsible for fast tracking the I20/US 67 interchange improvements and for the design and cost estimate of the exit ramp from I 20 onto southbound Clark Road.  David Green was responsible for that project funding, no matter what anyone claims differently.

In appreciation of my uncompensated service to Texas highway and road system, the TxDOT Commission held its only meeting in history in Duncanville in January 2007 during which they presented me with the Texas Road Hand Award, the highest recognition given to volunteers in Texas.  In the 40 years since the inception of this honor in 1973, TxDOT has awarded only a limited number of these awards.  As recipient of #209, I am the only “Road Hand” ever from Duncanville.

I was elected the first President of the Duncanville Community and Economic Development Corporation, serving on this board for a total of three years.  That plus six years on the Park Board, and 22 years as District 4 Councilman in three different iterations add up to 31 years of direct service to the citizens of the City of Duncanville.  You may add to those 31 years, nine years as coach for little league football and girls softball teams and two as volunteer coach to the DHS tennis team.  I have devoted 42 of my 70 years of life to my community in various roles.

In 2010, the Duncanville ISD recognized my service when it named me “Distinguished DHS Graduate” 50 years after I graduated.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Council, this is a partial record of what I have done for Duncanville, my hometown.  I wish you well and hope you will concentrate on doing some equally positive things for our city and for our area.

You may begin by approving the Wintergreen /Duncanville Roadproject.  The City’s commitment is only 3.3% of the cost of the project, $204,000 of an estimated $6.8 million project.  One person has been killed at that intersection.  Had that young DeSoto-dwelling Hispanic mother instead been one of your daughters, you would have already signed off on this project.  I hope that her race is not a factor in your decision.

Again, one more accomplishment David Green and I obtained is a firm commitment from the NCTCOG Transportation Director Michael Morris is that the organization would cover any cost overrun on this project.  Therefore, there will be no additional cost to our city on this project – no matter you have been told.

Duncanville has the smallest cost share of this project.  There is no doubt that this project must be completed and will be someday.  If delayed until in the future, the cost of the project and to Duncanville will be much higher and we will have alienated our neighboring cities of Cedar Hill and DeSoto who will think long and hard before partnering with Duncanville on needed area projects in the future.

David Green’s legacy and my legacy are secure.  The economic development and transportation improvements we championed are in place for all to see.  Now is the time for you on the council to establish your own legacies.  The Wintergreen /Duncanville Roadsafety project will be a good start.

Finally, when I was a small child, my mother told me never to try to make myself look bigger by making others look smaller.  “It just makes you look smaller,” she said.  Her advice was always sound then and remains true today.