A favorite shortcut of mine when traveling from the Stockyards to the Near East Side involves taking some back roads that lead to an underpass that allows motorists to cross under I-35 North without waiting at a traffic light.
I like the route because it shortens the amount of time it takes to get to the East Side, it keeps me off the major roads such as North Side Drive or NE 28 Street, and there are no traffic lights and little traffic to contend with.
Also, the shortcut takes me past two sights I always enjoy — the old Swift meat packing plant, and the I-35 underpass.
The Swift plant has been closed down for years and is falling into to disrepair, but I always get a kick out of seeing the old Swift sign that is still embedded into the brick facade near the old entrance. A friend of mine had relatives that worked at the meat packing plant back in the day, and my friend has an old black-and-white photo taken years ago of him and his father standing next to the sign.
Recently, that same friend took his 14-year-old son and they posed for a photo beside the same sign.
But today I drove past it and noticed that gangbangers had spray painted grafitti over the Swift sign and ruined it.
Then I drove a ways farther and got to the underpass. What I always liked best about the underpass was that, years ago, somebody had painted a large, colorful mural of zoo animals on the walls.
But now the mural is ruined. Some dipwad spray painted graffiti over the mural, and then somebody else covered up the graffiti with brown paint, ruining the mural.
I used to live on the East Side where graffiti is common and it used to piss me off something fierce to see the branch library tagged with gang signs, or the street signs covered in cryptic letters, or the sides of businesses sporting somebody’s gang affiliation. The vacant house next to mine was tagged several times. I used to cover up the graffiti with paint and cuss the little SOBs that had so little respect for other people’s property.
So, naturally, my ears have perked up in recent days as Fort Worth officials discuss ways to make up for the $59 million shortfall in the 2010 budget, including a proposal to cut $134,451 from the graffiti abatement program.
The program operates a paint bank and helps property owners remove graffiti from their property at no cost. Owners of vandalized property can get up to five gallons of free paint every three months to eliminate graffiti on their property. Also, a graffiti patrol paints over graffiti on park and public properties, and a private company is contracted to remove graffiti from commercial and private properties.
Slashing this program’s budget could do a lot toward making Fort Worth an ugly ass city.
The City Council will vote on the budget on Sept. 15. Before then, the public can say what they think about the proposed cuts during City Council meetings at City Hall, 1000 Throckmorton St., on the following dates and times:
10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25
7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1
7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8
10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15 (public comment will be heard before final passage of the budget)