Spotlight on White Settlement

01/08/2014 12:00 AM

01/07/2014 3:45 PM

Once considered a bedroom community in northwest Tarrant County, White Settlement is experiencing a rebirth as a vital player in business and entertainment.

Dirt is flying throughout the city on construction projects, including the new home for the Region 11 Education Service Center and two hotels.

Construction is also underway on a $13 million Hawaiian Falls water park, which will have a 20,000-square-foot arcade with restaurants, party rooms and a conference center.

The 16-acre entertainment complex is scheduled to open on Memorial Day.

“We think that White Settlement has been the best-kept secret on the west side of Fort Worth long enough, and we don’t want it to be a secret anymore,” said Jim Ryan, the city’s economic development director.

Ryan added that Hawaiian Falls is a catalyst for other businesses coming to the area, especially retail and restaurants.

Newly arriving businesses apparently feel the same way.

George Curry, a commercial real estate agent and a partner in Flight Deck Trampoline Park, which opened in May, said city leaders are friendly and supportive toward businesses coming in.

“When they say they’re open for business, they really mean it,” Curry said of the city.

The trampoline park attracts visitors from the western portion of Dallas-Fort Worth, and the park is often packed with families when school isn’t in session, he said.

Work is underway to completely renovate a former Sam’s Club building that will house the education service center, another client of Curry’s.

“A lot of good things are happening over there, and it is because of the city leaders,” he said.

Besides the entertainment venues and education service center, Weir SPM, a Scottish-owned company that manufactures equipment for the oil and gas industry, built its $20 million national headquarters in White Settlement, Ryan said. The company is the city’s largest taxpayer, Ryan said.

The city is also the gateway to Lockheed Martin and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.

The city of 16,565 is a 5-square-mile community bounded by Texas 183 on the east, West Loop 820 on the west, Interstate 30 to the south and Silver Creek on the north.

The city’s roots stretch back to the days of the Texas Republic, and its name referred to several farms and one or two trading posts that were scattered west of Fort Worth and reached to the Parker County line through hostile Indian territory, according to the online Handbook of Texas.

During the 1850s, the community of White Settlement developed around the homesteads of three brothers from Tennessee. The community remained a frontier outpost until after the Civil War, but it began to grow and prosper.

The city was incorporated in 1941 and continued to grow with the coming of the former Carswell Air Force Base and industry in Fort Worth.

In 2005, there was an unsuccessful attempt to change the city’s name to “West Settlement” because some felt “White Settlement” had negative connotations, but voters soundly defeated the proposal, which drew international attention.

Nowadays, Mayor Jerry Burns said he is optimistic about White Settlement’s future, and he credits its success with a change in attitude at City Hall toward businesses.

“We decided to change the atmosphere at City Hall from a lukewarm to an open door policy toward bringing in new businesses,” he said.

Burns said he believes residents feel better about the community.

“If you are not moving forward, then you are backing up,” Burns said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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