W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, mayor pro tem and council member, addressed issues that face residents in the 109, in a meeting on July 19.
Zimmerman touched on budgets cuts, redistricting and gas ordinance revisions. Here’s what he had to say:
Budget cuts made last year went straight into the bank this year, but cutting $30 million this year is going to be a daunting task, Zimmerman said.
“We have negotiations that will start later on this year, with the police department and their meet-and-confer,” Zimmerman said.
“Pension has become a big issue,“ Zimmerman said. “The pension fund is well within the standard set by the federal government.”
Zimmerman said it is very difficult change a pension plan with the number of vested employees, therefore, higher contribution by the employees plan is an option that is being explored.
The police contract expires in 2012, so negations will take place to reach a bargaining agreement, Zimmerman said.
City council redistricting
As far as redistricting, Fort Worth has two city council districts that are way out of bounds, Zimmerman said.
“There are some workshops coming up and you can use the same software that [city council] will be using to help decide how to draw the lines,” Zimmerman said.
Public forums will provide a chance to get involved in the redistricting process, he said.
The city has to make sure that each one of its council districts includes an equal number of voters, Zimmerman said.
Gas ordinance revisions
Gas ordinance revisions were discussed in pre-council, Zimmerman said.
Residents in Foster Park had to endure drilling and hammering of the seismic testing as early as 7 a.m. on Independence Day this year, but new requirements are now in effect to include the addition of city holidays to the days when seismic testing will not be allowed.
Requirements of notification to residents about when seismic surveys will occur are also in effect at this point.
A resident raised the concern about 10 feet of unfinished road contruction from Arborlawn to Bryant Irvin.
Zimmerman responded: “If hindsight was 20/20, we would have gone ahead and paved that. Arborlawn goes over Chisholm Trail, and there has got to be a bridge built. If we had known it was going to take this long we would have probably just gone and put some asphalt down and connected Arborlawn from Bellaire to Bryant Irvin Road.”
But it is no longer cost effective to simply pave it at this point in time, Zimmerman said.
“The problem is now that they are starting to excavate for the Chisholm Trail so they would be digging that up anyway and it would be a short-lived solution, but by 2013 this will all be over,” Zimmerman said.
Low water levels
Zimmerman also addressed concerns about the low water levels across the city and warned that it may not be long before mandatory water rationing was set into place.
The city is working on ways to use reclaimed or non-potable water. The systems do require pipe to be laid so it is not exactly free but the city is working on it, Zimmerman said.
New deputy chief over all patrol introduces himself
Deputy Chief Daniel Garcia, the new deputy chief over all of patrol as of June 25, spoke briefly to the residents.
“I am excited about the new team the chief has put together and I am looking forward to being even more responsive to citizen needs,” Garcia said.
In October, Garcia will have been with the Fort Worth Police Department for 21 years. He spent the majority of his career in the north and east divisions of Fort Worth, but said he is excited to get to work in the west division of Fort Worth.
Overall crime in west Fort Worth
Capt. Richard Reflogal then spoke about overall crime in the west division of Fort Worth.
Reflogal has been in his current position for two years in September. He has spent half of his career in the west division of Fort Worth. He has worked on the Como beat and the TCU beat. He also worked as a detective and has been in the gang unit and internal affairs offices.
Reflogal talked about crime in two different formats: June 2011 compared to the July 2011, and then crime for the year 2011 compared to the year 2010.
Assaultive offenses decreased 11 percent in the month comparison, but increased about 15 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said. These are typically domestic violence-related and bar fight-related for the west division, he said.
Sex offenses, which include rape offenses and sexual assaults of children, increased 83 percent in the month comparison, for a total of five more offenses than last month and increased 5 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said.
The crime analysis division determined that the majority of the sex offenses were not stranger-on-stranger incidents, but bar-related or family members, Reflogal said.
“There were only two sex offense crimes for the year that were stranger-on-stranger and we are working diligently to solve those,” Reflogal said.
Reflogal gave a statistical overview of the city’s crime:
· Murder and non-negligent manslaughter decreased 33 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said. There have been two deaths in 2011, versus three deaths in 2010.
· The overall crimes against persons total decreased 8 percent in the month comparison and increased 15 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said.
· Burglary or breaking and entering decreased 15 percent in the month comparison and decreased 2 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said. Both malls are included in the west division along with the West 7th corridor and the Bryant Irvin Road corridor at 183.
· Vandalism decreased 13 percent in the month comparison and increased 6 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said.
· Larceny theft offenses, which include purse-snatching and shop-lifting, increased 4 percent in the month comparison and decreased 2 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said.
· Motor vehicle theft increased 7 percent in the month comparison and decreased 4 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said.
· Robbery offenses decreased 38 percent in the month comparison and decreased 31 percent in the year comparison, Reflogal said.
· The overall crimes against property total decreased 11 percent in the month comparison and decreased 2 percent in the year comparison.
· Curfew violations increased 633 percent in the month comparison, for a total of 22 citations compared to three for the previous month, Reflogal said.
“Teens with nothing to do that are out past 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on the weekend can get themselves in trouble,” Reflogal said.
More information on crime statistics is available at the Fort Worth police department website.
Neighborhood police officer gives friendly reminders
Officer Charles Gonzalez, the neighborhood patrol officer for the area, warned residents who go to Foster Park after dark, that if a car is parked and left alongside the park, the resident will receive a $30 ticket.
“I have fought tooth and nail to get this approved. This is another tool I can use to make sure Foster Park is safe,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez also passed out photos he had taken of property left in the cars, in an effort to warn about the danger of car theft.
“Be proactive on your end and make sure you take the property out of your vehicle,” Gonzalez said.
A resident raised concerns about a totaled car due to burglary, where someone had literally stomped the car in.
Gonzalez said he sends out a daily crime report through the neighborhood association email list.
What residents can do to feel safer
“The biggest thing you can do for the neighborhood is to join the COP program and help me out. I am only one person and I can only do so much,” said Brenda Silcox, president of Foster Park neighborhood association.
COP, Citizens on Patrol, is volunteer effort to reduce crime in neighborhoods. Silcox is the only COP for Foster Park neighborhood.
After attending training, COP groups receive hand radios that go directly to the police department and a sticker that goes on the side of their car, which can deter a lot of people, said Regis Andrez, neighborhood education specialist.
“The training is a huge help to the [neighborhood patrol officers] and it makes you feel safer,” Andrez said.
Foster Park creek clean-up
For residents in Foster Park, the property line goes to the creek, but it is the homeowner’s responsibility to keep brush and tress that may overhang trimmed back, Silcox said.
Volunteers are being asked to help cut overhanging trees and brush back so people can see down into the creek.
A homeowner’s permission has to be given to cut back trees. Permission forms will be sent out via email, Silcox said.
Maj. Paul Henderson of the Fort Worth Police Department spoke briefly about the five-year strategic plan that was implemented in 2009 in the department.
“If you don’t have a plan in place, you have no direction,” Henderson said.
The department has recently gone through the second phase of realigning in the department, Henderson said. The first phase was a realigning of patrol from a beat emphasis to a zone emphasis. The zone emphasis is geared toward targeting high priority or high crime areas.
A crime suppression plan based on data has been used to help allocate resources and pinpoint high areas of crime, Henderson said.
“From the strategic plan, the police department’s mission is to provide quality service and partnership to the community to create a safe environment overall,” Henderson said.
Fort Worth is currently ranked No. 9 out of 69 for safest cities in the nation, Henderson said. Fort Worth is the 16th largest city in the nation.
Communities involved have helped lower crime numbers in the city, Henderson said.
Henderson also warned if their car is burglarized with nothing in it, they may be at risk for identity theft. Criminals look for insurance cards that are usually in the glove box, he said.
“There is a lot of excitement and energy and that is what you need to change the culture of a police department,” Henderson said. “We need to be more service-based and service-oriented.”
Neighborhood University session coming up
Andrez spoke last and described himself as a middle person between the resident and the city. Andrez works with local NPOs, with water services and with waste management. Andrez also does educational presentations for elementary students on topics such as how to recycle.
Andrez informed residents about the Neighborhood University summer session Saturday, Aug. 6. The mini-session will cover topics such as code compliance, how to communicate to residents in neighborhood associations and permits.
In the fall, another university session will be held and will cover different topics. A survey will be taken during the summer session to find out what residents want to know.
The next meeting Foster Park neighborhood meeting will be in October to discuss gas wells that will be going up in the neighborhood.