The City Council and Fort Worth school trustees on Tuesday night set in motion a long-sought-after plan to alleviate traffic issues along West Seventh Street, and around Farrington Field and the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
School trustees agreed to dedicate an easement that would allow the city to expand Trail Drive, which runs south of the Will Rogers Memorial Center livestock barns from Montgomery Street, across University Drive and around the east side of Farrington Field to Lancaster Avenue. The planned extension would be a two-lane road with a median.
The school district land, now used as a parking lot, totals about 1.792 acres and starts at the south end of the stadium.
Both bodies began negotiating an agreement nine months ago.
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The memorandum of understanding takes effect Feb. 1. The city has until Jan. 1, 2021, unless an extension is granted, to start construction or the easement reverts to the school district.
The council vote was 8-0. Councilman Zim Zimmerman was absent.
The school board vote was 9-0.
As part of the project, the city plans a small feeder off the added Trail Drive to connect into Foch Street, which also leads to West Lancaster Avenue. As a result, a section of Crestline Road, commonly used to cut through Trinity Park, would be closed.
The extension would be an alternative for motorists trying to navigate west Fort Worth without getting stuck at long traffic signals at University Drive and West Lancaster, or University Drive and West Seventh Street.
The school district would not receive money for the easement; instead the city has agreed to modify a property use agreement that for decades has restricted and discouraged potential development of the property. The right of way dedication was valued at $1.7 million in a 2013 appraisal, according to city and school records.
The road project would cost the city about $5.4 million, of which Tarrant County has agreed to fund up to $2.8 million, the city said. City money hasn’t been found for the project, which would also involve relocating a Park Department maintenance facility from the north end of Trinity Park. The move would reclaim 9 acres for the park and better access to the historic Van Zandt Cottage in the park.
Susan Alanis, an assistant city manager, said the city doesn’t have a timeline for the project and there is no funding in place yet. The city hopes to do that through a bond program in 2018 or 2019. The city will also now resume talks with the county.
“We have some due diligence to do,” Alanis said.
The school district will also consider spending about $950,000 in parking lot improvements, which would involve improving the bus loading area on the north end of the stadium, aesthetic improvements to the entrance and repaving when the parking boundaries change.
When the city deeded the 17-acre field house portion of the Farrington Field property to the school district in 1937, it placed a clause on the property that if the school district used the property for anything other than athletic purposes, it would revert back to the city. It also said the school district could not sell or lease the property.
In 2001, as settlement in a lawsuit between the city and the school district, the city released the reverter, but said that if the school district improved the field house property and sold it, it would have to give the city half of the proceeds. Now, in exchange for the easement, the school district will be allowed to lease the property under certain terms.
Fort Worth council briefs
Former RadioShack land development
The council voted 8-0 to rezone 10 acres along Hampton Road, between Pharr Street and Cold Springs Road, from medium industrial to planned development/central business district. The owner, Dallas-based Legacy Capital Partners, plans to demolish the warehouses there and build 325 apartments and town houses. Legacy bought the property in September 2104 from a Midland-based real estate group. The property was sold in 2013 by RadioShack, which owned it for 40 years.
Tax abatement approved
The council also approved 8-0 a five-year, $1.3 million property tax abatement for FW Bluff Land, a limited partnership of Criterion Development Partners that plans a $30.3 million, 276-unit apartment development off Oakhurst Scenic Drive, near downtown. In April 2015, the council approved multifamily zoning for the 18-acre project site. The developer began buying land for the project in early 2013. The abatement requires the developer to set aside 20 percent of the units for affordable housing, or pay the city’s Housing Finance Corp. $200 for each unit that is subject to the tax abatement.