I've enjoyed being out of the limelight the past few years. Things have been calmer. Heck, people say I smile more now that I'm not on TV with DISD all the time. It's nice. Nice to come home to our big home here in Balch Springs, TX and enjoy the quiet of our neighborhood, the relatively safe area we live in, the great Mesquite ISD schools our kids go to, and just be happy.
But over the past few months I've also come to the realization that the area of Dallas I live in isn't well regarded once you get past, well, much of anywhere. And I've begun to come out of my seclusion to begin working to change how people view this wonderful little city.
In spite of the present perception, Balch Springs is a city of about 22,000 people. We've got some great schools here. The MISD school across the street from our house, Mackey Elementary, is rated Exemplary this year by the Texas Education Agency. That's a fantastic thing.
Dallas County has been working with the city for the past year and a half to widen Belt Line Road from just past our house all the way to the five points at Pioneer Road.
We now have a Wal-mart close by and with the addition of Texas Best BBQ/ExxonMobil station at Interstate 20 and Belt Line, well, things are feeling less secluded out here in our little corner of paradise. It's nice out here because while we're still close to the city of Dallas and all it's big city ways, I can drive two minutes to the east and take some great pictures of horses and countryside. I love that.
With Balch Springs' location relative to Dallas, and the fact that the area has Interstate running through it and basically is the only traffic leg left that hasn't been developed, it's foolish to think that's not going to happen. And when it does, it's going to books the values here.
But there is one thing that's concerning to me, and I heard a little bit about it tonight–there isn't a hospital within 15 minutes of our house, and from the best advice of friends, I've told my kids, "If you're ever in an accident, I don't care what, have the ambulance take you to Baylor Dallas or Presbyterian Dallas and do not let it take you to the Mesquite Hospital, now called Dallas Regional." My preference for the kids is Medical City of Dallas or Childrens of Dallas, which are at least 30 minutes away. Particularly if there's traffic.
There just isn't a hospital that's close by. If I have a stroke or heart attack, well, my odds of making it drop by every extra mile I have to travel. We've finally set up a contract with CareFlite which gives me a little more comfort than before, but it's the travel distance that's of concern.
Tonight I heard discussions about setting up a medical corridor in the city of Balch Springs. This has received a lot of discussion here in the city and from what I can see, there's a couple of factions rising up either in support or opposition to the matter.
Tonight's discussion centered on the possibility of Parkland Hospital opening up a Community Oriented Primary Care Facility along where Interstate 635 intersects with State Highway 175 in Dallas on the Northwest side of the intersection. Right now the land mainly is used for horses etc, and I can see the wheels of progress rolling up the last remaining portion of country-living and making it a memory. That's a good thing, and then maybe it isn't.
Locating a hospital and doctor's offices in this area could lead to higher tax revenues for the city, which translates into better city services, better streets, new restaurants, a shorter drive to somewhere to go shopping, restaurants, all that. And those things in turn, help positively affect the value of our home. Again, that's a good thing. One projection I heard tonight estimated that over 25 years the city of Balch Springs could receive some $80 million in revenues just from this development. Again, that's a good thing.
What I heard tonight was a consideration to bring a COPC here. That's not the same thing as a Baylor, or a Presbyterian Hospital. Those guys, while they're in the business of providing world-class health care, also are in business. That means they're there to make some money along the way. Building an extension of Parkland, which is a drain on the economy of Dallas because of the numbers it serves who can't afford medical care or don't have health insurance.
It was cited tonight that the median income in this area of the county isn't that high. You'd think that has had an effect on those larger hospitals' consideration about locating a new facility here in our town. I imagine it's played a huge role.
So at the moment, you have the elected officials of our city trying to figure out what's the best course of action for our area. That's a tremendous challenge. The tax base here isn't that strong. Finding cash to be a part of a land development deal for the benefit of a hospital isn't easy for the city to do. And yet, the citizenry of this city really need a health care facility that's close by in their times of need, but also for regular, every day health care.
There are more meetings planned. More discussion. More inquiries and considerations. When I was in the governor's office of Alabama, I remember the SHPDA Board was one of the most controversial operations in state government because it helped approve where a medical facility could be located in the state. I'm guessing Texas doesn't have something similar because there was no mention of it tonight.
So where do I stand on this issue? Well, I'm trying not to, remember, all the beginning stuff abou
t enjoying the peace and quiet? I dearly want to see Balch Springs grow and prosper. It seems to me that getting a hospital here in the city is a huge first step toward making the city something better. The question for me becomes how to do it that doesn't give away the city to grow the city, and then how to provide something that's going to prosper as well.
I think there's still a lot of homework left to be done on this issue. This is important and needs to be done right. And so I await more details. Not to mention some review from The Dallas Morning News and the other news agencies in DFW.