Editorials

Hard realities, real solutions for perils of ‘The Trail’

Mayor Betsy Price, city councilman Bryan Bird, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald and the fire chief took a bus tour of Las Vegas Trail on Monday, July 3, 2017, to see firsthand the poverty, crime, etc., going on there and start to formulate solutions with a task force.
Mayor Betsy Price, city councilman Bryan Bird, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald and the fire chief took a bus tour of Las Vegas Trail on Monday, July 3, 2017, to see firsthand the poverty, crime, etc., going on there and start to formulate solutions with a task force. jlmarshall@star-telegram

As its name might suggest, the residents of Las Vegas Trail have been relying on luck.

Their neighborhood along a four-lane strip on the city’s West Side between Interstate 30 and Camp Bowie Boulevard West, is a haven for drugs, violence and crime.

Poverty is rampant. Employment rates are low.

The residents don’t need luck — they need a transformation.

For Worth City Councilman Brian Byrd, whose district includes the impoverished area, thinks so, too. He’s one of several city and community leaders working on a plan to mitigate the blight that has gone unaddressed for too long.

On Monday, Byrd, Mayor Betsy Price and other city officials took a one-hour tour of the area.

Price told Star-Telegram reporter Jeff Caplan that the first step was gathering city leaders together to gain a better understanding of the problems.

After Monday’s visit, city leaders should have a clear picture of the obstacles.

It’s what they do now that matters.

Byrd is assembling a task force of residents, nonprofits, government agencies, churches and businesses who have a stake in improving the neighborhood.

“My vision for this area is to see it truly transformed, increased higher education, increased employment, increased family stability and significantly lower rates of crime,” he told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board.

That is also the vision of police Lt. Kirk Driver, who was along on the tour, and Abdul Chappell, a former gang leader. Independently, both men are working to tackle poverty along Las Vegas Trail.

With the city’s blessing, Driver will implement the “Leveraging Project,” designed to bring social services and job training to apartment residents.

Chappell is hoping to open a community center for recreation, job training and empowerment programs.

Now that the city is more aware of the struggles facing Las Vegas Trail residents, those efforts should be supported, enhanced and multiplied.

Time will tell if city leaders’ commitment to improving life on “The Trail” is resolute.

Right now, their interest seems genuine; their efforts thus far, encouraging.

As Price admitted, progress will be slow.

But this is a good start.

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