Eastsiders vent their frustrations at the District 5 Community Meeting
hosted by Councilwoman Gyna Bivens
by Wanda Conlin
District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens did a yeoman’s job of putting together a meeting with strategic staff members to partner with citizens and business owners with issues which need solutions.
Unfortunately that partnership was drowned in negativity. Questions were answered by staff, but the answers were not what the audience as a whole wanted to hear. Anger was directed at those who had come to help, instead of being directed at those past council members who caused the clustering of the homeless and the problems that has created.
This is unfortunate, because East Fort Worth has such potential, and at this time we have three council members who seem truly interested in hearing from us.
The hope is that now that venting has occurred we can have a real work session and come up with real answers to the problems we all face in East Fort Worth. The problems are not isolated in one part of our community.
by Rita Vinson, BOHN and Judy Taylor, Handley
About 100-110 people attended Council Member Gyna Bivens’s District 5 Eastside Strategy Meeting at the Handley Meadowbrook Community (Recreation) Center Thursday night, July 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. The meeting was called in response to multiple complaints in July from Eastside leaders about intolerable conditions in two trouble spots in Handley.
Ms. Bivens rallied action from many city officials, many of whom attended the July 28 meeting, including Randle Harwood, Director of Planning and Development, with his Zoning Manager, Jocelyn Miller; two staff attorneys from the Legal Department; Aubrey Thagard, who supervises the Directions Home homeless program for the City; Catherine Huckaby from Community Engagement; and about a dozen officers from FWPD, Police NPO’s, Captain Shedd, and Deputy Chief Hadsell, Alan Speed, and Code Compliance.
Handley Neighborhood Association (NA) President, Judy Taylor, got the ball rolling by writing to Bivens on July 18. Mike Phipps of West Meadowbrook NA took photos July 19, and LaWayne Hauser of Eastern Hills NA took more photos and wrote an impassioned email to Mayor Betsy Price with the subject line “Help Is Needed for the Eastside.”
The first trouble spot is the parking lot and alleyway by the new Pacesetters Day Labor office in the old Radio Shack space in the Minyard shopping strip in the 6300 block of Meadowbrook Drive.
LaWayne Hauser made a presentation of her photographs and observations, taken over several weeks, showing the unacceptable conditions, and possibly unlawful situations at the Meadowbrook Minyard’s Strip center.
Her presentation highlighted in many cases, the issues of homeless living on the property, diving into the clothing drop boxes, hassling customers desiring to patronize the businesses in the shopping center and otherwise being a nuisance to the community.
Some of this is caused by the homeless shelters themselves. The shelters open late afternoons, around 4, and if a person is not in line when the doors open, they will not get a bed. This puts the men who are trying to work a day job in a tough spot. They get off work too late in the day to be ensured a bed at the shelter, so they stay on site till the day labor office opens in the morning.
A solution would be a reservation system with the shelters to ensure that men & women who are working, are guaranteed a bed in the evenings, and a voucher from the day labor facility to prove they had worked that day.
Ms. Bivens met with the owner on Monday, July 25, and he was very cooperative in working on solutions for the problems that have arisen about people loitering, sleeping, and leaving trash and discarded clothes on the parking lot and alley after they take newer clothes from the clothes donation bin.
The gaming and prostitution, paired with drugs in a building of the Historic Handley village of the 6500 block of East Lancaster, property owned by Mark Scott Law Offices, was a big topic with the Law office from the city saying “there is nothing the police can do about the Gaming because of lawsuits against the city by the business owners.” The East Division Police officers are addressing the prostitution and other issues, as much as possible.
The issue of the convenience stores and the depravity they bring to a community, such as gaming, panhandling and vagrancy was also addressed, specifically naming one of the biggest neighborhood offenders: Cowboy Convenience Store on Handley Drive. The people patronizing this store have done damage to the neighboring businesses, which have had to increase their security measures to prevent additional vandalism and attempted break-ins.
Mike Phipps said “It was a great opportunity to lay out a plan but I think many passed up the chance. I wish those who just wanted to complain (without offering a solution) would have stayed home. We had a grand opportunity to address issues and lay out a future plan for this area and beyond, but most of the time was wasted complaining. It amazes me how these people think constant negativity is productive. I cant wait to hear what others might have to say. I thought Gyna did a GREAT job putting together the meeting.”
The second trouble spot is 6505 East Lancaster Avenue, where a new business opened about June 28 with approved permits and certificates of occupancy. However, is it apparently a gaming operation, has indications of other illicit activity, and a man in the rear of the building facing Kerr St. exposed himself in front of kids at a day care center. The City passed an ordinance last year to crack down on businesses that house gaming operations, but as soon as they did, the City got sued. A court issued a restraining order that prevents the City from enforcing the new ordinance.
Neighboring Handley business owners vented frustrations that these trouble spots have been causing. Also attending were residents not only from Handley but also from Eastern Hills, Ryanwood, West Meadowbrook, Brentwood-Oak Hills, and White Lake Hills.
Gyna Bivens outlined several steps already taken and additional steps being addressed and will ask staff for an update to be presented to City Council. When that appears on the City Council agenda, which is published online every Friday, Eastsiders need to attend en masse at the City Council meeting to let the Mayor and Council know we need their help in promoting positive development in East Fort Worth.
Scott W. wrote in and said: Appears the issues are the same issues we had 10+ years ago with no solutions or action plan for solutions. My suggestion is to start with prayer and seek wisdom and guidance to find solutions. Set Monday morning at 10:0am ( or pick another time) for every resident of the east side to pray for safety, wisdom, guidance, prosperity, protection, family resurrection, etc (be specific) in our community and command the demons of crime, drugs, prostitution, unemployment, poverty, etc. to depart from our neighborhoods and be replaced by the Holy Spirit. Say what you will but God moves through prayer.
2 Chronicles 7:14. ” if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
More info to come, as it arrives.
SUGGESTIONS for SOLUTIONS
1. For the homeless men getting day jobs through temp agencies:
Have the agencies issue a ‘voucher of day employment’ that the homeless shelters are required to use to reserve a bed for the men that are working day jobs.
The current Shelter bed assignment policy punishes the men trying to get work by denying them a place to sleep, because they were not in line when the doors opened. Since the men know they will not have a bed at the shelter, they camp nearby so they can be first in line at the temp agency and get work.