Even after weeks of angry emails to City Hall and Mayor Betsy-bashing on Facebook, the “Save Our Stockyards” campaign couldn’t muster enough protesters Tuesday for a good calf scramble.
“Where’s the rally? I guess we are the rally,” said Pam Yates of Fort Worth, sitting outside City Hall as a friend held a drawing of a weeping longhorn and the message: “Disneyesque Really?”
A rally for tighter restrictions on a planned $175 million retail-apartment development on Niles City Boulevard had been promoted but later canceled as Stockyards traditionalists decided to lobby the council quietly before a vote establishing a historic district.
Yates and her friend Sharon Neighbours still came early and joined a handful outside City Hall with yellow buttons reading “Stockyards Go Bigger,” calling for protecting about 40 blocks instead of 15.
“I’m worried about the Stockyards getting Disney-fied,” Yates said.
“I’m worried it won’t have the ghost-town emptiness. I’m worried there’ll be too much growth.”
Neighbours said she wishes developers wouldn’t tear down the burned-out Swift & Co. packinghouse. The industrial site is planned for a major hotel-retail complex.
But most of all, she said she wishes she knew the real plans and where city leaders stand.
“I think there’s been a lot of misinformation all around,” she said.
“At one point I thought they were tearing down stock pens. Then I heard they’ll keep some. I just don’t think the public really knows what stays and what goes.”
In a Western hat and a checked shirt, Paul Sensibaugh of Alvarado said he read about the meeting and came because he worked at Swift and “I just think it ought to be saved.”
But when he reminisced, it became obvious why not everybody is as sentimental about a slaughterhouse and sausage plant.
“One time, they had me squeegeeing the blood off the ‘killing floor,’ ” he said, grinning.
“Another time, I was picking up meat patties [off a conveyor belt] and packing them back in cans. And stuffing wieners.”
I asked if that sounded like a historic attraction.
“I know the young folks don’t like that side of the Stockyards,” he said, “but it’s all part of the history.”
The Stockyards and cattle are staying. Just maybe not all the ghosts.