FORT WORTH -- Southeast Fort Worth's Cobb Park was once known more for the crimes that have happened in and around it than its natural beauty, but now it’s on the brink of a renaissance.
After decades of neglect, Cobb Park has undergone renovations that were celebrated with a dedication ceremony in April of 2012. The natural beauty of Cobb Park is no longer hidden under neglect, but its past still casts a long shadow despite efforts to polish this diamond in the rough.
"It had some bad vibes, even when I was in high school,” said Derrick Williams, who grew up in an apartment complex nearby. “You didn't really come to Cobb Park because you have bad things, but, you know, that's in the past. Times have changed."
Williams is a part of that change as a part of Friends of Cobb Park. He'll will be at the park this weekend, along with other artists, musicians, and vendors during the Art on The Cobb Community Arts Festival.
"They don't get this," Williams said. “A lot of kids don't get the opportunity to go to the Main Street Arts Festival or the Mayfest."
Traci Walker also grew up nearby. She helped organize the weekend festival.
"We just want everyone to come out and experience love and community," she said. "Something different, as opposed to everything you hear about this side of town."
People used to hear about stolen cars and even murder victims found in the park. The park gained worldwide notoriety in 2001 when Chante Mallard dumped the body of a homeless man she hit with her car there after driving home with the man lodged in her windshield.
The city spent $4 million renovating the park. New entry way monuments were built, along with new benches and gazebos, and two basketball courts were added.
"It's been a long time since we've been in Cobb Park,” said Gregory Beck, who drove through the park Friday afternoon to get a look before the weekend festival. “And it's really looking nice."
With a new look and a new image, many hope Cobb Park will get a new, nice reputation.
The Art on the Cobb Community Arts Festival is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday in Cobb Park. The park is in southeast Fort Worth and is accessible from Martin Luther King Freeway and from East Berry Street.