Slowly, but surely life is starting to improve for those living in Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
Violent crime is trending down, Trinity Metro is running new express routes through the neighborhood, and a newly passed public improvement district is expected to bring in an extra $300,000 to support public safety and community improvements.
Fort Worth city officials and nonprofit leaders praised the progress made over the past two years during a community meeting Tuesday.
The next step will involve community input led by Philadelphia-based design and planning firm Interface Studio. The firm plans to study the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood over the next year to provide the city with a comprehensive plan to guide its revitalization efforts.
The study will cost just under $200,000 and will be funded by Fort Worth’s Housing Finance Corporation.
Interface Studio has won awards for similar work in St. Louis, Missouri, and Lewiston, Maine, but CEO Scott Page told the audience it’s more important that his firm won those awards for its ability to listen to the communities its serving.
“We don’t have an agenda,” Page said. “And our job is to listen.”
Interface will analyze public data on things like school mobility rates, housing availability and street safety. The firm will also organize a series of community listening sessions.
“What is it like to live here on a day-to-day basis? What are your key challenges? Where do you shop?” Page said, giving some examples of the kinds of questions his team will be asking residents.
Interface will also be collecting voluntary data from residents about where they live in the neighborhood to ensure it is hearing from a wide swath of the community as opposed to small subset of residents.
“We want real feedback. We want folks to look at the work that we’re doing and say, ‘Wow, that looks right’ or ‘That needs some rethinking,’” Page said.
That’s the goal also for nonprofit LVTRise, which plans to restart in-person meetings with apartment managers, community members and law enforcement in the coming months.
Interface will be working directly with LVTRise to lead those community meetings, but executive director Willie Rankin said his organization will be able to connect individual residents to city services to address their immediate needs.
“When I first started it was the residents who brought something forward to the center, and the center brought in the partners to address those needs,” Rankin said. LVTRise was forced to rely more on data in 2020, but Rankin said his organization needs to do more to connect with residents in Las Vegas Trail.
Page acknowledged the perception that revitalizing Las Vegas Trail will lead to gentrification and displacement, but countered that low income deserve the same high quality of services and amenities as their more affluent neighbors.
I think there’s a way to achieve to multiple things, to make the improvements in the community that are long overdue, but to also address those gentrification fears in the context of the wider area,” Page said.