Downtown Fort Worth Park Closer to Reopening

Recent study says park is built on stable ground

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Heritage Park Plaza has been closed and deemed unsafe, but now there's a grass roots push to fix up and return the forgotten park to use.

    One of the best views from the Trinity River bluffs in Fort Worth isn't one you can see right now.

    Just off Main Street, in the shadow of the old Tarrant County Courthouse, sits Heritage Park Plaza. The views from there can be stunning, but they've been off limits to the public since 2007.

    "Man, I've been riding here for years, run marathons through here and I never knew," said Matt Ratliff.

    Those new to Fort Worth are likely unaware of the plaza, which sits on the site of the original fort and was the city's bi-centennial gift to the country in 1976. But city and downtown leaders like Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., are keenly aware of it's significance.

    "We want to get this fence taken down and reintroduce this to the people of Fort Worth," Taft said. 

    For the last three years it's been a private-public effort to analyze what partly prompted the closure and warning signs to people to stay out. One of the safety concerns has to do with the stability of the slope the park is built on, but after an extensive study it's been determined that it is okay. That means the city and it's partners can go forward with the next phase. 

    "Which is addressing some of the structure and mechanical issues that are keeping the park closed today," Taft said.

    In the next few weeks, a design to make those changes will be selected to implement the changes and renovations.

    The city's upcoming bond program, if approved by voters next month, would put $1.5 million into renovations. That money coupled with private investment means the chain link and locks could be gone by mid-2015.

    "It would definitely be nice to have another park around here," Ratliff said.

    It's not just opening up a park, but it's potential to be a focal point on the northside of downtown.

    "We're going to see Heritage Plaza at the center of a lot of very exciting activity, so it'll be a wonderfully placed park that you could never replicate today," Taft said.

    The park renovations are partnership between the City of Fort Worth, Downtown Fort Worth Inc., Amon G. Carter Foundation, Sid Richardson Foundation and Streams & Valleys Inc. The organizations have been working together on the project for the last five years. Three years ago the private organizations funded the analysis of the bluff.