If you’ve ever wondered who was who in the landscape that makes up Fondren and her residents and businesses, last night’s town hall meeting was your chance to learn more. The evening, moderated by Fondren resident, activist and business owner Jeff Good, hosted around 150 in the Woodland Hills Baptist Church auditorium. In case you missed it (or didn’t happen to follow on Twitter), here is a recap of the highlights:

Fondren Association of Businesses’ David Waugh said that businesses thrive here because Fondren is a destination and embraces diversity. He asked “how do we keep the flavor of Fondren while growing and expanding? How do the residents and the businesses work together?” FAB is looking for ways to include more businesses in Fondren. Waugh said “we’re funky, but we’re also fine – and full of class”.  SoFo, a ladies auxiliary made of those who live and work in Fondren hosts monthly gatherings and is active in community volunteerism. SoFo has recently begun to collect a small membership due, part of which pays for functions. Lisa Hawthorne, speaking for SoFo, said the group has given part of their income ($350) to the Cedars trust, something they plan to continue. Kathy Clem, former FRF Board President and tonight representing OurFondren, told the group their role is to deal with neighborhood safety and beautification. Clem says beautification lowers crime, as does code enforcement. All of this helps Fondren and raises property values. 

SAFE, a security organization that contracts with Securitas private security, is here to protect home and business. Jerry Summerford said the program needs more dues paying members at $30 a month to hire additional hours of protection, currently 6am – 2am. Moderator Good made a live call in the midst of the meeting asking Securitas to stop by as a show of their ability to respond quickly. Four minutes later, the officer on patrol arrived and was greeted warmly by the crowd. Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) representative Bill Wilson, the group’s moderator, spoke of  their monthly meetings that give you direct access to local leaders and real answers to your questions. The precinct 4 meeting is always the fourth Thursday of each month at Redeemer Church on Northside Drive. City officials were on hand from zoning and planning and told of the need for neighborhood records to be kept up to date. Representatives from Woodland Hills, Cherokee Heights, Broadmeadow and others were advised to be proactive in their communications with the City.

Finally, Fondren Renaissance Foundation Executive Director Jim Wilkirson was introduced and likened his organization to a “small chamber of commerce”. Wilkirson said it’s because they help to unify all the organizations. FRF has a goal for a west side neighborhood association in the next year and touted the new Fondren Park as a gem amongst that area, one that will soon have a community garden and projection equipment for movies.  The Cedars was again mentioned and Wilkirson said it is available for non-profit use during the week. The historic home rents out on the weekends for private events and has recently been remodeled with painstaking detail.  Art classes have begun being offered there and Wilkirson said music education is planned for in the near future. As for music this fall, he says they’ll go to a “summer concert series” format with four shows beginning in June. This takes the place of the September Symphony at Sunset. In the final moments of the meeting, Habitat For Humanity was again announced as a partner in helping with 30 more houses in theFondren area as part of the Phoenix Initiative in the coming year and Wilkirson said, the queens WILL return! Jill Conner Browne’s Zippity Doo Dah weekend kicks off with Fondren’s Arts, Eats & Beats on March 22, capped off by a Saturday March 24 parade with many surprises.

Holly Jackson, FRF social media manager, contributed to this report

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