FORT WORTH, Texas — Grassroots groups are holding meetings this weekend in Fort Worth's historic Northside neighborhood, warning residents about something that sounds like a positive change, a new $3 million investment from the city in neighborhood improvements.
The neighborhood that is clustered just west of the Stockyards and north of downtown is slated to be the third Fort Worth area targeted for a neighborhood improvement project. The funding is likely to be approved by City Council this month, and it could be put into action shortly thereafter, with possible improvements like new sidewalks, streetlights and blight elimination. Specific details will be ironed out with the input from future stakeholders’ meetings.
"I hope that it will reinforce and reinvigorate the community," said city councilmember Carlos Flores whose district includes the Northside.
Flores spoke at a meeting Friday evening with some of those grassroots organizers. They have been going door to door and suggest that too many people in this predominantly Hispanic neighborhood are unaware of the changes that are coming.
"There isn't enough information being put on the city's website, and then there's also people who live here that don't have access to the internet or computers," said Tristeza Ordex-Ramirez, a founder of a group called El Voto Es Latino that is coordinating the meetings.
Flores sought to assure residents in the meeting that the neighborhood improvements are not attempting to gentrify the area. He said the Northside was chosen by city staff who examined a number of metrics and found that the area lags behind in infrastructure and has high levels of blight, poverty and crime.
Flores pointed to what he said has been successful implementation in two other neighborhoods, Stop Six and Ash Crescent in 2017 and 2018.
"And the moment those programs got underway, guess what? One of the primary indicators of neighborhood decay started to react very positively. Crime dropped precipitously," said Flores. "That's one of the first things that we hope to see here."
Olga Velasquez has lived in the neighborhood for decades, and she said that the idea of some improvements is exciting, but she does worry that her neighborhood is being squeezed by development on all sides and that could drive up property taxes and housing costs.
"They're doing changes to a lot of things around us, so we're just nervous about what's happening. Then all of a sudden, we get $3 million from the city to fix things around our neighborhood," she Velasquez said. "We're just afraid that this is going to be the beginning of our end here."