Letters: Wednesday, March 02, 2005
A 10-Foot Pole in Woodhaven

To the editor: I enjoyed Jeff Prince’s story on Woodhaven — a decent article dealing with a problem that needs to be fixed. However, the continued cries of racism are misguided at best and at times knowingly dishonest.
Did racism exist at Woodhaven Country Club 25 years ago? Of course. Did racism delay the integration of Meadowbrook and Handley until the mid-1980s? Of course, although Poly and Stop Six are hardly “just across the freeway” as suggested in the article. I grew up in the Ryanwood section of Handley and witnessed it first-hand. Meadowbrook and Handley of the ’60s and ’70s were almost completely white.
But one fact not mentioned in the article is that the vast majority of whites who deeply resented integration of these areas moved away from the East Side in the 1980s and early 1990s. They made it clear why they were leaving for Burleson, Weatherford, etc. For the vast majority of the remaining whites on the East Side, race is not the motivating factor suggested by the article and its subtitle (“Does urban renewal equal Negro removal on the East Side?”). I would suggest that most, if not all, of the white members who blocked Mr. Williams from becoming a member at Woodhaven Country Club in 1983 are long gone; the history of discrimination 20 and 30 years ago simply is no proof of continuing discrimination by Becky Haskin and other Woodhaven homeowners.
The issue is simply that there are far too many apartments in Woodhaven with low-income residents, not the race or culture of the residents. The description of the apartment scene when first completed was accurate, although the first apartments were completed in the late ’70s, not the early ’80s. My wife and I moved into our just-finished apartment in December 1978. We were childless, married only three years, and looking for our first house. Although there were complaints by the homeowners over the density of the apartments even back then, when there were few minority tenants, the crime and blight didn’t occur until the low-income residents moved in. Do all low-income residents commit crime and destroy property? Of course not, but statistics unquestionably prove the link.
The author dismissed property values as being a real concern because nearby homeowners “have not seen the same declines in property appraisals” as the apartment properties. That’s true, but all is not well with home values in Woodhaven. Anyone familiar with Eastside real estate knows of the terrible decline in values in the ’80s and ’90s, which are only now starting to turn around. Many people fled Woodhaven, selling their houses for half of what a similar house in north Arlington or southwest Fort Worth would bring. Even now, compare the asking price of a Woodhaven house to a comparable house on a golf course in other parts of Tarrant County. Crime — or the perception of it — in Woodhaven and all the low-income apartment housing are the reasons for the discrepancy, not the race of the tenants. The rest of Meadowbrook and Handley are now highly integrated but without the same crime and blight problems. The problem is not the “racial overtone,” but rather the over-saturation of low-income housing. Next time, why not interview minority homeowners in Woodhaven and let them help clarify the issues, putting racial concerns in the proper place?
Phil Phillips
Dalworthington Gardens

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