Static: Wednesday, July 2, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Welcome to North Crowley

The groundbreaking for the new Sycamore Villas on Crowley Road last Wednesday looked like any typical ceremonial event, complete with shiny awards, an appearance by Mayor Mike Moncrief, and pearly smiles everywhere. Alphonso Jackson, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was there. Participants gave happy speeches, and photographers took the requisite pretending-to-shovel pictures.

Static — surprise — was skeptical. Sycamore Villas, with 47 of its 280 units devoted to public housing, will certainly provide nice new roofs over the heads of some of those displaced when the downtown Ripley Arnold project was sold and demolished to make room for RadioShack’s humongous new headquarters. But with the Sycamore project, we’re not talking about a near-downtown development, unless you mean near downtown Crowley. A “T” bus route does go by the new complex. But clinics and other public health facilities are probably two long bus rides away. These poor people won’t just be out of sight, they’ll practically be out of the county.

Ramona Utti, who headed up the Ripley Arnold tenants’ association during the fight over that project’s sale, isn’t worried. Utti said she’s “really inspired” by what Glenn Lynch, the main developer on Sycamore, has done for other residents of public housing in the city.

Utti’s a pragmatist. When Ripley Arnold tenants saw they would have to move, she and lawyer Mike Daniel helped win important concessions from the housing authority, including payment of moving costs.

Everyone would like to live close to downtown, but that’s not always possible, Utti said. And indeed, public housing authorities face a tough job in locating new developments: They can’t and shouldn’t locate projects in unsafe or overly segregated neighborhoods. They have to get the best land for their buck. And those criteria seldom translate to close-in properties. Residents in Sycamore Villas will have a safer environment and better access to stores.

Jackson said that mixed-income housing like the Sycamore project is a relatively new concept for Fort Worth, and one usually met with disdain by surrounding neighborhoods. When the Fort Worth authority bought the Stonegate Villas apartments in 2002 for just such a purpose, locals screamed their heads off.

In Sycamore’s case, however, Jackson said the neighbors have accepted the venture with open arms. Static can only hope. The Ripley folks deserve some peace.

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