Westhollow Society Undaunted

Westhollow Society Undaunted

The Westhollow Society, a local non-profit whose mission is to improve the Northwest Dallas area through beautification, development, crime prevention and charity, has recently taken a beating in the eye

The Westhollow Society, a local non-profit whose mission is to improve the Northwest Dallas area through beautification, development, crime prevention and charity, has recently taken a beating in the eye of many local residents of the Westhollow area of Dallas.

First of all, the name Westhollow itself was created as a moniker for the area south of LBJ, North of Walnut Hill, East of Midway and roughly West of I-35 by the founder and President of Westhollow Society, Donovan Lord.

Donovan Lord has been working to establish Westhollow Society in the area for two years and this year he has experienced a mixed response with both a lot of approving residents and responses as well as critical response from many residents of the area based on an ongoing smear campaign by only a few residents of the Northwest Dallas.

Residents of the Westhollow defined area, specifically in the Park Forest neighborhood, Carol “Mimi” Gibson, Scott Carmichael and Darcy Christ have been the most vocal opponents of the Westhollow Society’s desire to help improve Northwest Dallas, specifically the organization’s exploration of a possible Public Improvement District. Lord says they have resorted to name-calling, guerrilla-type smear tactics and have purposely disseminated libelous and defaming remarks about himself, his organization and its membership.

A Public Improvement District, or PID, is an organization whose goal is to maintain and revitalize public areas within the district, but is funded through an annual assessment by property owners.

“The naysayers are primarily working to discredit me and the Westhollow Society because they have an alternative agenda of starting their own neighborhood association on the heels of the foundation I have laid in front of them through Westhollow Society and they have used rumor, innuendo, lies, and smear tactics to try to do so. I’ve even been called an “asshole” and “dumbass” by “Jacquelyn George” a resident of Sparkman Club. ” Donovan Lord, President of the Westhollow Society said. “Despite their methods and childish tactics, we have tried to keep on point and mission and not get mired down in the mud. However, what it has done is bring publicity to our cause and allowed us to counter their misinformation with the facts whenever possible.” he continued.

Lord also says that the group of people working against him are primarily in the Park Forest development, in which he also owns a home and are bitter about his ability to have designed, raised money for, and had voted on, sign toppers two years ago that were successfully funded and placed on Park Forest intersection stop signs.  “The community had tried for years to implement sign toppers but failed due to the egos and infighting among the community, so Westhollow Society took it upon itself to successfully implement the sign toppers for the area much to the chagrin of the existing organization.  These and other detractors have gone as far as to edit the Westhollow Wikipedia page and adding disparaging remarks about me and the organization and flag it for removal, created a fake letter that disparaged the properties of a few residents and tried to blame us for its existence and dissemination which was completely untrue, flagged almost every single post on the Next-door online website that mentions Westhollow Society or the word “Westhollow” to try and get the posts and/or myself removed from the site, as well as attack it, attack us, attack me personally, and our members’ character and motivations for trying to better the neighborhood in which we also live”.

Despite the vocal opposition to the Westhollow Society’s exploration of a Public Improvement District for the area, there are also many supporters of Lord and Westhollow Society’s mission and the PID.  “I have had many supporters of what we’re trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, people against something are often far more vocal and conspicuous than those in favor and therefore it may seem otherwise.”

When questioned about the motivation behind the detractors’ efforts, Lord stated that most are afraid of their taxes being raised and of having the area branded as “Westhollow” which some residents do not like.  “As far as taxes go, of course improving the area with or without a PID would raise taxes ultimately, but residential taxes typically go up every year anyway.  The most that the PID would cost would be .15/$100 of valuation which for the typical home in our area is around $30 – $50/month.  That is not a lot to ask for what the proposed PID is trying to offer – namely an area wide 24/hour ENP, street repair, beautification, and marketing of the area.”

“The problem has been primarily that people have conflated the Westhollow Society with the PID because we are working to implement one.  However, we have many other projects in the works that have nothing to do with a PID including an upcoming fall 5K and Festival, improving the medians and park spaces, helping to improve the Park Forest library which is in desperate need of updating, a Senior Citizen’s Program to help seniors in their time of need as well as encouraging socialization through public events that they might enjoy, and much more.  As for the area being called “Westhollow”, Realtor.com already calls it that and so do some Realtors in the area but it was, just like any other neighborhood name, something that I created based on a desire to create a brand for the area since it’s difficult to explain where we live when asked by others and it helps us to garner more interest from developers and new retail we may want in our area.”

Lord says that he has reached out to all neighborhood HOAs and organizations as much as possible to participate in the Westhollow Society through public workshops that help determine what each area feels are the most pressing issues in Northwest Dallas.  He has received mixed response to his requests but has been undaunted.

“There will always been negative Nancys in any neighborhood trying to derail an organization but this is not going to prevent Westhollow Society from fulfilling its mission.  I never thought it would be easy, nor did I think everyone would agree.  All we want is to better the area for the present and the future and as long as our efforts have good intentions, I think ultimately people will see what we are about, not a nefarious organization the way some people try to paint us as being.”

Lord is having another Public PID Workshop in January followed by a final Public Meeting in February.

More information about Westhollow Society can be found at http://www.westhollowsociety.org.


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J Warner

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