FORT WORTH -- The Fort Worth Transportation Authority board approved a site for a commuter rail station in the medical district during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon, over the objections of several Mistletoe Heights residents who spoke their displeasure.
The agency's action came hours after board members received a critical letter from Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, whose district includes Mistletoe Heights.
T board members unanimously approved the site on Mistletoe Boulevard on the east side of the Fort Worth & Western Railroad tracks. The vote was 6-0, with two absences and one abstention.
The agency originally wanted to build a station near West Rosedale Street and 12th Avenue, but properties in that area have since been developed for other uses, and a more attractive but controversial site near Baylor All Saints Medical Center became available.
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Burns blamed the T for four years of delays in developing the original station site, a lapse that he said gave developers time to build on the surrounding land so it couldn't be used for rail platforms and transit transfer points.
That delay, he said, is now forcing the T to seek property closer to the neighborhood.
"I have growing misgivings about the T's ability to deliver on the TEX Rail project for a variety of reasons, in addition to its handling of the medical district station," Burns wrote in the letter dated Wednesday.
Burns added that, more recently, T officials misled residents of Mistletoe Heights into thinking that the original station site at West Rosedale and 12th Avenue was still viable.
"This charade as public process is the most damaging, disappointing aspect of the entire multiyear process," Burns wrote. "We deserved better."
T President Dick Ruddell declined to comment on the letter.
The T hopes to open the 37-mile rail line from southwest Fort Worth to Grapevine and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport by 2016.
About a dozen residents showed up to speak Wednesday at the T's special meeting. A majority spoke in support of the new station site, but several chastised T board members for not sticking with the original. A handful of other residents attended without speaking.
In previous neighborhood meetings, a majority of Mistletoe Heights residents has opposed the Mistletoe Boulevard station site.
"The presentations never seemed to be balanced. It seemed to always be slanted to the Mistletoe site, and frankly that's what frustrated a lot of us," said Dwight Mitchell, who owns several properties in Mistletoe Heights.
Board member Mike Brennan abstained from the vote, saying he didn't want to create a perception that he had a conflict of interest based on his employment as planning director of Fort Worth South Inc.
T board member Janet Saltsgiver noted that the Mistletoe Boulevard site will ensure more level access to nearby streets for pedestrians and curbside transfers to buses.
"It's very important we're able to serve disabled people in that neighborhood and in the hospitals," she said.
The T was also going to alter its plans for a proposed commuter rail station in north Fort Worth, but it delayed action Wednesday to give staff members more time to meet with people living in the area.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796