Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens on Tuesday touted a pilot program the city has embarked on to improve the Historic Stop Six neighborhood, but told residents they need to be involved to reap the benefits.
“Be familiar with what we do,” Bivens said. “Every Tuesday we can take votes that change your lives.”
The mayor, Bivens, four other council members and city staff held a news conference Tuesday following a bus tour of the the Cavile Place/Stop Six neighborhood. In this year’s budget the city has set aside $2.56 million for the pilot program aimed at improving a neighborhood in need. In December, Stop Six was chosen because it leads the city in such things as unemployment, low graduation rates and lowest income per capita.
Unemployment in Stop Six historically is about 20 percent, compared with the rest of the city at about 4 percent, Price said.
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But, Stop Six also leads the city in the number of boarded-up homes being demolished and tax foreclosures.
The statistics for Stop Six simply must be changed.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price
“The statistics for Stop Six simply must be changed,” Price said.
The pilot program was introduced to the City Council during budget meetings last fall by City Manager David Cooke, who has shifted policy to start spending money on a one-time basis on the city’s neighborhoods. Cavile Place/Stop Six was chosen from a list of five neighborhoods. How the money is spent is decided based on community input.
Public safety is at the crux of the program.
“If you can increase the safety, the pride will continue to grow in the neighborhood and continue to increase the vitality of the neighborhood,” Price said. “All our neighborhoods deserve to be strong.”
Code compliance has already started cleaning up several thousand cubic yards of trash and 10,000 feet of new sidewalks will be built, among other things, Price said.
In about a year, city staff will take a look at the statistics again, hoping to see improved numbers.
In the meantime, Bivens said she will be focusing on attracting buyers for nearly 70 tax foreclosed properties held by the city in Stop Six, bringing other developers into the neighborhood, and continuing to encourage resident involvement. Already, a senior living facility is in the works.
We do know there’s more interest in the inner city than before and that was the whole idea.
Gyna Bivens, District 5 Fort Worth councilwoman
“We do know there’s more interest in the inner city than before and that was the whole idea,” Bivens said. “If you look at the neglect you see throughout Stop Six, people are getting tired of not being heard. This is the time we need you to be engaged. The idea is you have a role in this.”
The Rev. Robert Sample, pastor of the Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, in the nearby Ramey Place neighborhood off East Loop 820, was grateful.
“I’m glad that you are doing this for us today,” he told the elected officials. “We want to see this area made to feel it’s a home.”