When Reba Henry first moved to her home in Polytechnic Heights in 1973, she knew every one of her neighbors. Neighbors around East Rosedale Street knew each other and kept everyone informed.
Now, 50 years later, those connections have died out and Henry, now 78, thinks it’s time to increase participation in her neighborhood again.
“In days past, neighborhood associations were the backbone of a neighborhood,” she said. “That kind of thing has changed because people have become so transient, especially in a neighborhood like this one.”
With the upcoming redistricting of City Council representation, which will split the neighborhood, some residents like Henry are hoping to create a neighborhood association for the 1,600 to 2,500 homes between Rosedale Street, U.S. Highway 287 and Miller Avenue that will allow them to present a united front on issues that matters to them. Neighbors also are anticipating a Main Street American program that will help revitalize the area.
“A neighborhood association is a resource for breaking down barriers to information,” Henry said.
The formerly majority white, blue-collar neighborhood saw a demographic shift in the 1960s when African Americans started moving in and then again in the 2000s when Hispanics started settling in.
Today, 70% of the population in Henry’s neighborhood is Hispanic, followed by 19% Black and 9% White. The median household income is $44,611 and about 23% of the residents live below the poverty line, according to census data.
Kristine McDonald, 62, moved to her Polytechnic Heights home in October 2020. Coming from Arlington, she sought out a neighborhood association to be more involved in her new community and learn to work with the city to achieve goals that benefit the residents of the area.
“Prior to moving here, I never had a neighborhood association,” McDonald said.
As the reality of the new City Council district lines settles in, some residents think it will help to have a united front when bringing forward community concerns.
Want to help create a neighborhood association?
Meet your neighbors at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Tarrant County.
Refreshments will be served. Families with children can drop their kids off in the game room, which will be open and monitored for the duration of the gathering.
The historic Polytechnic Heights neighborhood south of Rosedale will soon be divided into two council districts along Vaughn Boulevard, starting in 2023. East of Vaughn Boulevard, residents will be in District 8; on the west side, residents will be part of the newly formed District 11.
“It was when they put out the final map in January or February. And I was just livid. I think I broke everybody’s eardrum with, ‘What are they doing?’ Henry said. “And then looking at all of that, looking at the fact that there was no neighborhood association over here. It was like ‘I can’t fight back on something like this on my own.’”
An initial meeting to discuss the creation of a neighborhood association was on Oct. 17. A second meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Tarrant County.
“When you look at how it’s actually been split up because compared to its previous boundaries, it’s completely off base from what has been here before,” McDonald said. “When you look at what (the area) has been, and what it has been carved into, it’s hard not to think, of course, it was deliberate.”
The rapid redevelopment of the area can only be successful if residents are involved in the process, said Christopher Johnson, vice-president of the Poly Heights Neighborhood Association. District 8 council member Chris Nettles did not return a request for comment.
The Poly Heights Neighborhood Association, bordered by East Lancaster Avenue to the north, Beach Street to the west, Ayers Avenue to the west and East Rosedale Street to the south, was revived in 2017 as redevelopment sprung up in the area.
“We’ve been left out of the conversation and meetings related to future economic development,” Johnson said. “Bring the neighborhood association and even the residents that are not part of the neighborhood association. If they live in Poly, we want them to come with us so we can work in unity to address economic development that’s coming to the Poly area.”
Reba Henry is a member of the Fort Worth Report Reader Advisory Council. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.