That’s the word used by Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., in lamenting the number of years Fort Worth’s Heritage Park has been closed to the public.
That “shameful” description also is appropriate when referring to the years of neglect that led to this landmark’s deterioration and forced its closure in 2007. The 112-acre park and plaza that honors the city’s founding has been fenced off since then.
Sitting on the bluff overlooking the West and Clear forks of the Trinity River, the scenic wooded area is located on the site where the original fort named for Gen. Williams Jenkins Worth was built.
The view from overhangs on the bluff is one of the most breathtaking sights in the city, but residents and tourists have been unable to take it in for the past eight years because the park has been mothballed, patiently awaiting city leaders to refocus their attention to it and once again embrace it.
Well, the city has begun to do that — by funding a study of its structural damages, assessing its needs for restoration and raising the money to address those issues.
Taft said $700,000 has been donated by the Amon Carter Foundation, Sid Richardson Foundation and the non-profit Streams and Valleys, and another $1.5 million has been allocated from the $292 million city bond issue passed last year. But, he said, that leaves another $1 million to be raised to restore the park to its original glory.
A million dollars is a lot of money, but that is a small amount for a city like Fort Worth, which prides itself on preserving its culture and heritage, and a where even school children took money from their piggy banks to help build the great Bass Hall.
Heritage Park, commissioned as a gift to the city during the nation’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it has been on the list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places way too long.
It’s time to get the water flowing in the fountains again, removing that barrier that has kept people out and restoring access to those scenic walkways.
It is past time to put an end to this “shameful” part of our heritage.