DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas National Guard has been called in to help Dallas get rid of known drug houses, and the guard’s first assignment Thursday was on South Lancaster, one block away from an elementary school.
The chant ‘knock it down’ rose before the earthmover even took its place. The targeted building was once a church, then a furniture store, but police say recently police it’s been a dangerous drug den.
“We don’t know what kind of people are inside the building…drug users, sex offenders, it could be anybody inside these buildings” says principal Curtis Holland of nearby Lisbon Elementary School.
The guard held an anti-drug seminar for students just an hour before razing the building, a side mission of its demolition program. But students like 8-year-old Taylor Townsend are already tuned in to the problems
“When I look out the window when I’m going home I see people smoking and walking around with drugs and I feel sad.”
The hope is to turn blight into progress says Mayor Tom Leppert. “It’s not simply taking a structure down, its elevating communities and giving communities a chance to flourish.”
There were cheers all around when the heavy machinery moved into action.
The guard has an ongoing program to demolish blighted buildings, but it’s in Dallas for the first time, helping to train troops. Money for the rented machinery comes from drug forfeitures.
Thursday’s building is the tenth of 48 buildings the guard is helping to tear down on 31 Dallas properties. In each and every case the building was related to the drug trade.
Taylor has her own vision of what it means. “If that house was just full of all the drugs in the world and there were no drugs left, then when you tear it down all the drugs are just gone.”
The Texas National Guard’s demolition program helps cities across Texas, but takes down only properties linked to the drug trade.
Dallas has an aggressive abatement and demolition program of blighted and troubled housing. Earlier this week it began removing aging and problematic 4-plexes along Hatcher Street in South Dallas at the ‘Summer Breeze’ apartment complex.