District 9 comes up short in 2018 proposed bond

By Bernice Ogbondah

As Fort Worth finalizes a bond proposal that would go before voters next year, residents in District 9 are complaining that the program doesn’t do enough for their area.

In the $39.5 million bond proposal, the tax rate is set at 16.35 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Assistant Property Management Director Roger Venables speaks with residents after meeting. (Photo by Bernice Ogbondah)

The city plans to renovate Northside Community Center and North Animal Shelter, and replace Diamond Hill Community Center and Wedgwood Library in the proposed bond. The bulk of improvements for District 9 will be in the form of street reconstruction.

When given the opportunity to speak, many of the District 9 residents had the same qualm: They wanted updates to Fire Station Community Center.

Fire Station Community Center is in the heart of the Historic Fairmount District. Yearly, Fire Station is one of the most used community centers and has scored highly on the community center evaluations by the City of Fort Worth Parks & Recreation Department.

Residents complained that the community center needs to be expanded because the facility is too small and can’t maintain the needs of the community. Every City of Fort Worth community center has an after-school program that is open to elementary and middle schools from the surrounding area. For parents in Fairmount, getting their children in the after-school program at Fire Station requires getting on a waitlist that could take years for admission.

Danielle Agarwal, a Fairmount parent, said that Fire Station needs to be expanded because the Fairmount and Ryans Place communities need a central location to host there numerous clubs and organizations.

Agarwal also said that the after school care needs to expand because there are elementary schools in the area that don’t have after-school care.

Breinn Richter, director of infrastructure of the Fairmount Neighborhood Association and mother of two, has been on the waiting list at Fire Station for two years.

Richer said that it is really important for Fire Station Community Center to be on the bond because the community has outgrown the facility and they are missing out on “critical programs like senior care and programs for youth.”

Alex Varse, a Fairmount parent, calls the Fire Station “the true gem” of the neighborhood and is worried about the “hundreds of families and seniors on the waiting list.”

He added that Fire Station was a “gateway” for his daughter and is vital to the community, especially for the families that were in the community before gentrification began.

Varse said he was “worried about the other families that don’t have the resources to seek another solution.”

Fire Station Community Center is not mentioned in the 2018 proposed bond.

Council Woman Ann Zadeh addresses residents. (Photo by Bernice Ogbondah)

The city wants to use cost analysis to figure out a facility’s lifecycle to determine renovation versus replacement. With a growing population of 20,000-25,000 per year, which the city estimates are the equivalent of adding Grapevine twice every four years, wants to focus on capital infrastructure. The city wants to finish the projects started in the 2014 bond in the 2018 bond to try and eliminate the backlog.

Other than fixing roads and having a signal improvement on North Sylvania Avenue and Race Street, out of the streets listed for reconstruction in the bond, only one of the streets in District 9 is a major arterial.

The largest proposal in District 9 comes from a facility that would be used citywide. The bond would move into phase two of this project, which would consist of designing and construction of a new facility for central district maintenance operations, inventory and equipment. This project is estimated to cost $9 million.

Riverside Park is set to have $2 million of expansions but nothing is specifically laid out. In the proposed bond, the updates “may include but not limited to athletic fields, lighting, and supportive infrastructure.” $1.3 million is allocated to design and construction of new public utility infrastructure that will support new facilities at the Fort Worth Zoo.

The city plans to vote on the proposed bond on May 5, 2018.