The City of Fort Worth’s first Neighborhood Improvement Strategy target area is Stop Six. It was also the subject of an informational tour with city council members and Mayor Betsy Price on March 28.
The first-of-its-kind project is designed to give the neighborhood a facelift as well as giving residents a path to being more self-sufficient.
“For folks who live there, this means an opportunity to make the neighborhood cleaner, safer, more visually appealing,” said Aubrey Thagard, Neighborhood Services Department director. “People aware of changes around them become more involved.”
Stop Six has an unemployment rate two and a half times the city average and 78 percent of the population is categorized as low- to moderate-income. The crime rate is 65 victims per 1,000 people.
Among the major programs intended to revitalize the area is the Cavile Place Redevelopment. This is replacing the 300-unit Cavile Place Apartments built in 1954 with mixed-income housing. It is planned to be the foundation for a vibrant and sustainable community with new retail and business services; programs to address education, job training and small business development; and ideas to promote healthy lifestyles.
The city council adopted the plan in 2014 and it is to be phased in over 15 years.
Other programs designed to help improve the area include the Fort Worth School District Historic Stop Six Initiative and the Blue Zones Project.
The Stop Six Initiative was created to develop a stronger educational foundation for children, build stronger families and empower families. It includes helping mothers and families with high quality health care, preparing children for school and academic success, providing college and career readiness, continuing education, job preparation, health and nutrition, violence prevention, housing assistance, and more.
The Blue Zones Project follows healthier choices as well. The project is funded by Texas Health Resources, Blue Cross Blue Shield and other major Fort Worth employers, with strong support from the city and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. It encourages better choices from schools to businesses to neighborhood grocery stores.
“An educated community is a strong community,” Thagard said.
To help with the revitalization project, $2.56 million was allocated in the city’s 2017 budget. Thagard said it is aimed at specifically improving neighborhoods and will be designated annually.
“This is an opportunity to take a neighborhood not at its best and put it on par with others,” Thagard said.
He said that the project is about more than the improvement of Stop Six. He said it will benefit the entire city. Not only will it make it nicer for residents and visitors, it can attract newcomers and perhaps even make some folks want who moved away want to return.
“By strengthening our most challenging community, it makes Fort Worth as a whole more appealing,” he said. “It strengthens the city as a whole.”
The Fort Worth City Council agreed March 28 to move forward with the establishment of a special revenue fund for the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Broken down, the council:
*Adopted an ordinance decreasing appropriations in the Parks and Recreation Department budget in the general fund by $2,864,533 and transferred to the special revenue fund.
*Adopted an ordinance decreasing appropriations in the Parks and Recreation project of the special purpose fund by $1,620,756, subject to receipt of revenues, and transferring to the special revenue fund.
*Adopted an ordinance increasing receipts and appropriations in the Botanic Garden special revenue fund by $5,150,066, which includes additional anticipated current-year Botanic Garden revenue.
The city assumes expenses (and corresponding revenues to fund positions) for nine city staff members to replace what has been provided by the Fort Worth Garden Club and Garden Center Committee, eight city staffers to replace what has been handled by the Fort Worth Botanical Society, and several other city staffers for housekeeping, customer service, electrician-related operating expenses, and other items.
All employees will now fall under the city of Fort Worth and all funding will be under the special purpose funds.
‘This is absolutely the right thing to do,” District 7 Councilman Dennis Shingleton said. “It’s going to drive this Botanic Garden to the next level.”
The council also approved non-exclusive purchase agreements up to $235,000 with multiple vendors for items to be sold at the Japanese Treasure Garden’s Treasure Tree Gift Shop. The Parks and Recreation Department will take over responsibility for the shop, which had been run by the Botanical Society since 1982.
Last year, the society spent about $225,075 and made about $477,801 in gross retail sales. All profits are spent on operating and improving the Botanic Garden.
BELKNAP BUILDING SALE
The council approved selling the city’s portion of the Belknap Building at 350 West Belknap St. to Tarrant County for $13.5 million. The building was built in 1979 in a joint effort by the county and the city.
Some of the law enforcement units that were in the building have moved to other facilities, including the new Bob Bolen Complex. A few Fort Worth law enforcement offices will remain in that building as a lease from the county.
The council held a second public hearing concerning the annexation of about 827 acres in the Eagle Mountain area. It then approved a timetable for the owner-initiated annexation.
BOA Sorte Limited Partnership has applied for full-purpose annexation of the property into Fort Worth. Included is property owned by Oncor Electric Delivery Co., which has joined the annexation request.
Most of the property is located in Eagle Mountain. A smaller portion of about 13.45 acres on the eastern edge is in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The land is vacant and a proposed single-family residential subdivision is consistent with the land use element of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan. The zoning application requests include one-family E neighborhood commercial zoning for a master planned community of about 2,500 homes.
While the annexation and zoning are related cases, approval of the annexation is not conditional on approval of the associated zoning request.
The council will consider the area for annexation on April 18.
HEMPHILL STREET CONNECTOR
The council authorized an interlocal agreement with Tarrant County for $23 million for the construction of the Hemphill Street Connector Project from Lancaster Avenue to West Vickery Boulevard.
This is a four-lane divided roadway tunnel under Interstate 30 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, including a new bridge for the tracks.
Over the next month city staff will work with the North Central Texas Council of Governments and funding partners to finalize the funding plan and commitments. Bids are expected to be received by May and the council is expected to give final authorization of funding in June.