‘We’ve done a lot of beautiful things’: Worth Heights association celebrates 25 years
Members of the Worth Heights Neighborhood Association believe it has come a long way since its establishment in 1998.
While they continue to work on several efforts to improve their south Fort Worth neighborhood, they are proud of their community, nonetheless.
“We’ve done a lot of beautiful things and a lot of people don’t know, don’t realize that,” said Joe Guerrero, president of the Worth Heights Neighborhood Association. “I’m glad I’m part of the family here.”
According to the association, their purpose is to “provide an organized framework to promote, preserve, and enhance the quality of life and value in the Worth Heights Neighborhood.”
Community members gathered Saturday at the Victory Forest Community Center to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the association.
The community center where the celebration was held was made possible with help and persistence from association members.
“The organization was instrumental in making sure that we had this community center here,” said Rosemary Galdiano, a member of the association. “I mean, just look at the activity going on and there’s another event next door. It just wouldn’t be possible.”
Since its establishment, the organization has also helped in installing traffic lights and stop signs, building safe sidewalks to local schools, hosting health fairs, bringing in funding to revamp older areas of the neighborhood, and donating school supplies to Worth Heights Elementary, among many other achievements.
The association also drove the recent effort to rename Echo Lake Park to “Ciquio Vasquez Park,” which association members deem important considering the neighborhood is predominantly Hispanic.
The organization is currently in the process of advocating to establish new housing and bring back a public library to the neighborhood.
Galdiano says her mother’s home in Worth Heights was fixed thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the Model Blocks Program the community received.
“The process is daunting for most people and we just need a little bit of training on how to do that,” said Galdiano on residents applying for housing funding.
The Model Block Program aims to revitalize Fort Worth neighborhoods. In its second attempt applying to the program, the Worth Heights Neighborhood Association finally received funding.
“But most people don’t even know that that exists as a resource,” Galdiano said about the program. She believes the neighborhood association is especially important for this reason.
“They don’t know the organization. They don’t know what it does and how it can be helpful and how it can bring resources to the community. But it’s our job to inform people,” Galdiano said.
Vicki Bargas, vice president and acting secretary for the association, says the organization has several goals for the future, including advocating for more affordable cost of living.
“What we’d like to do is a little bit more educating for our neighbors,” said Bargas.
According to Bargas and Galdiano, housing and property taxes is one of the major issues the Worth Heights community is currently facing.
“We’re being inundated with investors wanting to buy homes and people are now being taxed so high that it’s going to be hard for people to stay in their homes,” said Galdiano.
“What we’re trying to do is get a professional in here to teach people how to protest their property taxes and what they can do to at least lower some of their taxes,” Bargas said.
The association also aims to help those transitioning into retirement and provide resources for teens in the area, including applying for financial assistance for college.
An apartment complex for low-income earners is currently in the works for the Worth Heights community, made possible through donations, according to Guerrero.
“I can honestly say that I’m proud that I’m part of the organization here. I’m proud to be helpful,” said Guerrero.
With more businesses being brought to Hemphill Street — a busy road in Fort Worth — infrastructure and zoning could use some improvements, Bargas says.
“Sometimes you get a developer that you don’t really want, but then you have to go to zoning, you have to go to city council. It’s exhausting if we have to do that every month,” said Bargas.
Because of this, the Worth Heights Neighborhood Association also prioritizes and advocates for uniform zoning in the community.
“It helps if the city is open-minded and objective in regards to the issues that we have here. I’m only doing it for the good of the community here,” said Guerrero about his involvement in the association.
“It’s a nice place to raise a family and there are a lot of people that live in the neighborhood. They choose it for a reason,” said Galdiano.
The association holds meetings every second Thursday of every month, where community members can discuss issues, concerns, and ideas to improve the neighborhood.
“Getting involved, I think, is really important in the community, so we can do some things to better the situation here,” said Guerrero.