Tablet Opinion

Plans to reopen Heritage Park are moving forward

Heritage Park, near the site of the original outpost known as Fort Worth, was part of the vision for the Trinity River banks long before there was an official Trinity River Vision.

The 112-acre park and plaza include an overhang on the ridge near the historic county courthouse with a breathtaking view of the West and Clear forks of the Trinity and distant points north and west.

But few have been able to take advantage of this beautiful setting lately because, due to safety concerns and a deterioration of the grounds, the park was closed in 2007 and fenced off to the public.

Now there is hope that this urban haven will be reopened, with a portion completed by 2016.

A $100,000 study by the Fort Worth engineering firm of Freese and Nichols has determined that there were no significant safety issues, although there has been serious deterioration.

It’s estimated that the cost to refurbish the riverfront park, complete with restoring the plaza’s fountains, is about $7 million, which means there will have to be a public-private partnership to make it happen. Two local foundations and the Streams and Valleys Committee funded the structural assessment, and the city has included $1.5 million in its proposed bond package to pay for basic repairs.

Downtown Fort Worth Inc. says about $500,000 in private funding has been pledged to the project.

In addition to being needed green space for our fast-growing city, Heritage Park is a part of our history and, when open, serves as a gateway on the north end of downtown.

The plaza, designed by famed architect Lawrence Halprin and presented to the people of Fort Worth in 1976 by the Bicentennial Committee, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, it is also on the list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places.

This jewel of an open space must be returned to its original splendor and opened for use by residents and tourists alike.

It is good to know that a growing number of public and private leaders are committed to doing just that.