Mayor Betsy Price on Fort Worth charm and Texas Exceptionalism.
By: Kendall Morgan
Texas Exceptionalism embodies the values of Fort Worth and the ethos of a Texan’s drive to settle the American west. At Walsh, the concept of Texas Exceptionalism inspires us to push the boundaries of convention and create a home our residents will be proud of. In this continuing series of profiles, we shine the spotlight on individuals who personify the ideal that anything is possible, heeding the call to be extraordinary in their everyday lives.
When a city gains nearly 500 new residents a week, it takes a forward-thinking mayor to help keep things moving in a way that benefits all of its citizens. And, luckily for Fort Worthians, Mayor Betsy Price more than fills that role.
In this, the second part of our chat with Ms. Price, Walsh discovers how she feels about Fort Worth’s growing pains, community connectivity and the new Walsh development.
Walsh: “We were chatting about how important it is to keep your city a fit one. When you get people out to explore their city in a healthful way, what is the ultimate result that you hope for?”
Mayor Price: “If you make the outside environment where people live more appealing, more people will out to take their kids to the park, swing on a swing, and connect with each other. When you get people outside, they get connected with their community and each other. They tend to know each other better.
“Texas has always been that state where we tended to be more isolated in our cars. So many of us say we need to engage citizens, engage communities to have safer neighborhoods and healthier neighborhoods.”
W: “Which brings us to the Walsh development. With our maker spaces and trails, we are definitely in the mindset to build an interactive, active community. How do you see what’s happening with Walsh dovetail with what’s going on in Fort Worth at large?”
MP: “The Walsh development has been on the drawing board for 20 years, and it is a very thoughtfully done development. They’ve worked very closely with the city and our administration so I think (the development) is going to fit in perfectly. It’s been so well thought out, and they’ve been so caring and concerned about keeping (Walsh) Fort Worth. It’s very unique, there are no other developments quite like it. There are other wonderful ones, but this one will have its own personality.”
W: “And you’re already planning on bringing your passion for cycling to Walsh.”
MP: “We’ve been talking to the Walsh team about doing a ride out at Walsh for the Grand Opening this fall. We do rolling town halls, and we’ve asked if we can bring one out there, and they’ve wanted to wait until the grand opening. One of the things we’ve done the last few years is to get riders through the (naval air station) joint reserve base, and we’ll draw 100 to 200 riders (for town halls). I know we’ll have a big crowd at Walsh!
“I’m very excited because it’ll be a whole new area for people to ride. It’s beautiful—there are flat parts and rolling hills, so it’ll be a challenge for some riders, but tremendous for families and runners. It’s a brand new area that’s never been open to the public and I think people are going to find it fascinating.”
W: “Speaking of fascinating, what other things do you want to share that you love about your city?”
MP: “I love the museums. I love the trails. The Stockyards, the food—I love it all! I love the restaurants, you can go for everything from sushi to Mexican food to steaks.
“I love the people, the fact that it’s a great community to live in with a great quality of life and people that are passionate and care about each other. It’s very friendly and diverse… not just racially. Where else can you see a cattle drive and then a little bit later see a Michelangelo at the Kimbell (Art Museum)?”
W: “Some people say that Fort Worth could be the new Austin. How can you try and preserve that unique Fort Worthian charm?”
MP: “That’s our single biggest challenge: How do we keep Fort Worth’s identity while managing growth? Part of that is getting people out (of their homes), get them talking to each other. Getting community leaders engaged in a neighborhood or church or volunteering so they know their city better and understand it. When I get out and speak I say, ‘Tell all these new people who we are and what we like in Fort Worth and bring them into the fold.’
“Our population is growing, we gain one new citizen every 24 minutes. We’ve got the cool factor, we’ve got the trails, we’ve got great new developments like Walsh and we’ve got a growing community. A lot of people are staying where they used to go to Dallas and Austin.”
W: “Does that present its own set of challenges? How do you plan for those?”
MP: “We have a strategic plan on transportation needs and infrastructure, and we’ve done will with public and private partnerships to get the infrastructure where it needs to be. It’s a big need with schools, they’re growing and everybody has to work together for the quality of education. Fort Worth has been one of those cities that plans well together with their private partners, and we’re flexible enough that if things change we can roll with it.”
W: “That brings us to the idea of Texas Exceptionalism, of which Fort Worth is a great example. What does that concept mean to you?”
MP: “(Texas) is a very exceptional state, and a whole lot of it has to do with its long term history, particularly Fort Worth. From the time (the city) was founded, its truly been about its people and their attitude. They’re hardworking, honest, genuine people and they want good quality for their hard-earned dollar and their hard-earned time. They want to be able to do something they’re passionate about, too.
“That and their work ethic is what makes Texas Exceptionalism. People say, ‘You are passionate about fitness,’ and I say it’s selfish. I want to enjoy my grandkids and when I do retire, I still want to still get out and meet people and discover what makes them tick.”