Historic Fort Worth community has waited too long for promises to be fulfilled

01/25/2014 12:00 AM

01/24/2014 8:06 PM

For decades, the oldest black community in Tarrant County — founded by ex-slaves in the 1870s — was basically invisible to its neighbors in the far northeast part of the county and the city of Fort Worth that eventually would annex it.

To say it was neglected would be an understatement. It was completely ignored, and unwanted, by the nearby cities of Euless, Hurst and Bedford, as well as Fort Worth.

Mosier Valley, named for a plantation that was home to slaves who had been brought from Tennessee (by way of Missouri) to the Trinity River bottomland, not only survived but flourished for a while as a farming community, despite having been rejected.

In 1883 it organized a school, for a long time housed in a one-room wooden building, that served residents until 1968, and integration finally came the next year. Although grade-school children went to their “neighborhood” school, Mosier Valley, as part of the then-Euless school district, sent its high school students to Fort Worth’s I. M. Terrell High School, as did about 17 other cities around North Texas.

Located east of the Bell Helicopter headquarters and very close to what was soon to be the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, the community was annexed by Fort Worth in 1960, but for more than 30 years the city did nothing for it but make promises.

There were no water and sewer lines, street lights, curbs or garbage collection. For a while the closed school served as a community center, but eventually it fell into disrepair and was demolished.

For several years the community was invaded by companies mining gravel, leaving large, deep, unsightly and dangerous pits next to homes.

In 1995, as Euless was planning a golf course that would border part of the historic black neighborhood, Mosier Valley captured the attention of outsiders. Because 90 percent of the land for the golf course was in Fort Worth, Euless needed that city’s approval.

It became known that a consultant for the project had plans for a fence that would “screen out Mosier Valley.” Once again, the community was about to become invisible.

It was about that time that Fort Worth City Manager Bob Terrell made a vow to a council chamber packed with community residents that the city was committed to addressing their concerns. He promised them that within a year’s time Mosier Valley would have water and sewer lines.

Using the golf course as leverage, Terrell persuaded Euless to partner in making that happen.

For about 16 years now there has been talk from various city representatives about a park and community center for Mosier Valley, which has been growing again after a long decline, said Benny Tucker, president of the Mosier Valley Community Area Council.

Well, it looks like part of that dream is about to come true.

On the Fort Worth council agenda for Tuesday is a recommendation to authorize spending $250,000 (plus $25,000 for closing costs) for the acquisition of about four acres of land for creation of the Mosier Valley Park.

The land is being purchased from the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district, and a spokeswoman for the district confirmed Friday that the tract is the site of the old Mosier Valley School. A state historical marker was erected on the spot in 1983.

In documents prepared for the council meeting, the city’s financial management services director certifies that funds for the project “are available in the current capital budget, as appropriated, of the Park Dedication Fees Fund.”

Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, in whose district Mosier Valley lies, should have no problem getting support from her fellow council members for this belated project.

The patient people of Mosier Valley historically have waited too long for the fulfillment of promises. They shouldn’t have to wait any longer for this one.

About Bob Ray Sanders

Bob Ray Sanders

@BobRaySanders

Bob Ray Sanders is often criticized for writing about things he could not have experienced because, some readers say, "he can't be that old." The truth is Bob Ray has been a professional journalist for 40 years and in three media: newspaper, television and radio.

A Fort Worth native who knows and cares about his community, and those with whom he shares this planet, this is a columnist who is not afraid to speak out on behalf of downtrodden people or the abused Earth.

Email Bob Ray at bobraysanders@star-telegram.com.

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