Council Report: Heritage Plaza restoration plans detailed

March 3,2020


See full Fort Worth Business Press article by Rick Mauch here.

At Tuesday's work session, the Fort Worth City Council received a briefing about proposed improvements to Heritage Park from Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa.

In her State of the City address last week, Mayor Betsy Price spoke about how Fort Worth has often succeeded in using public-private partnerships to make important improvements that benefit the entire community.

"Heritage Park, located at the site where Major Ripley Arnold established Fort Worth in 1849, presents us with another opportunity to leverage city funds with resources from individuals, foundations, and other fundraising partners, and thereby to create a great public space for residents and visitors to enjoy," Costa said.

The proposed improvements would restore Heritage Plaza, create new walkways from Heritage Plaza to the Trinity River, revitalize Paddock Park in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse, and improve pedestrian and vehicular safety around that historic building, Costa said.

The report noted that in 1969 years ago civic leaders created Streams and Valleys to restore Fort Worth's ties to the river. A decade later, the city dedicated Heritage Overlook Plaza.

Two years ago the city council adopted Confluence, a plan produced by Streams and Valleys to conserve the river and its tributaries. The report said Fort Worth is finally poised to connect downtown with the river by launching the full development of Heritage Park.

A feasibility study was conducted for a $20 million capital campaign, with the city adding in $19 million of the overall estimated cost of $39 million. Interviews of foundations, companies, and individuals revealed overall support for the project concept, but more specific information on project sequencing, timing, and cost is needed.

Findings included:

*Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. is considered a reliable organization to manage the campaign and the project.

*Most said they would support it with a gift after the city and other entities commit to the project and timeline is known.

*The campaign will need an enthusiastic volunteer community leader to chair it.

Going forward, the council is expected to have an item on the agenda at the March 17 meeting. Also, the timeline includes:

*April 2020-April 2021 - Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives Incorporated selects qualified design firm, which produces conceptual (30 percent) design and reliable construction cost estimates through extensive public engagement process.

*Fall 2020 - City Manager David Cooke will issue preliminary funding recommendations for a 2022 bond program, with Heritage Park funding amount dependent upon progress in conceptual design and DFWII fundraising.

*January-July 2021 - City will conduct public meetings on 2022 bond program.

*December 2021 - City council will select projects for 2022 bond program.

*May 2022 - Voting will be held for 2022 bond program.

*May 2021-May 2022 - Design firm will produce final construction documents.

*June-August 2022 - DFWII, in cooperation with the city, will select qualified contractor to construct improvements.

*September 2022-May 2024 - Contractor will construct improvements.

*June 2024 - The City of Fort Worth will dedicate Heritage Park improvements on 175th anniversary of Fort Worth’s founding.

"It's a beautiful park. It'll be a gorgeous asset to the city," Price said. "I don't think you'll not find any support from this council."