Readers may remember the teeth-gnashing covered in our story about the growing strife between Fort Worth City Councilmember Gyna Bivens and members of the Stop Six: Sunrise Edition Neighborhood Association on the city’s south eastern side (“Welcome to Stop Six,” Aug 3, 2016). The group was bucking Bivens’ push to remove their neighborhood’s historic designation to promote business growth in the area.
Guess who won that dispute?
The designation went down the tubes in October. And all of that redevelopment that Bivens promised is chugging along like the trains whose station made Stop Six historic to begin with.
Stop Six is roughly bordered by East Rosedale Street on the north, Miller Avenue on the west, East Berry Street on the south, and Stalcup Road to the east. Cavile Place –– a public housing apartment complex in the northern segment of Stop Six –– sits in the target area for a city revitalization project aimed at combating unemployment while encouraging both commercial and civic development. The planned improvements will draw from $2.56 million in funds “set aside by the City Council to improve neighborhood vitality,” according to the city website.
Bivens said in a recent interview that the Stop Six Neighborhood Improvement Strategy focuses on environmental cleanup, such as removing brush, trees, and abandoned construction slabs and bulldozing old structures. Money for the project was found through “savings and efficiencies” from cutting waste from other projects that were either cancelled or no longer applicable, Bivens said.
In our previous story, we also tracked the model block grant money that the city had awarded to Stop Six: Sunrise Edition for community improvements. The city funds stopped in 2011, and city leaders said that the remaining $740,367 was combined with the balance from nearby South Hemphill Heights’ model block grant to help pay for the Columbia at Renaissance Square housing development being built between Mitchell Boulevard and Wichita Street in the Mason Heights neighborhood.
City officials said back then that the funds would be returned to the neighborhood, although no plan for when or how was in place. Those funds remain earmarked for use in Stop Six and intended for affordable housing improvements, according to Avis Chaisson, the city’s housing development and grants manager. Money reserved for these kinds of improvements are called HOME Investment Partnership funds.
“The proposed plan is to swap HOME funds for community development block grant funds,” Chaisson said.
Regina Blair, president of the Sunrise Edition neighborhood association, said her organization has yet to hear from the city about returning the funds.
“Today, no word on the $800,000-plus to be invested in our neighborhood,” she said in an emailed response. “Additionally, no word on the continuous infusion of capital from the initial investment of the grant we received.”
Blair believes the renewed focus on improving Stop Six is political.
“As far as we are concerned, any dollars tagged by the city for Stop Six came without input from informed citizens and [is] intentionally being put before the public in a form of news release because it is time for reelection,” she said.
The general election is May 6.