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Additional money needed to properly fix Heritage Park Plaza downtown

Heritage Plaza, part of Fort Worth's 112-acre Heritage Park complex, has been closed and fenced off since 2007. Efforts are being done to raise money to fix mechanical issues to reopen the park.
Heritage Plaza, part of Fort Worth's 112-acre Heritage Park complex, has been closed and fenced off since 2007. Efforts are being done to raise money to fix mechanical issues to reopen the park. Star-Telegram archives

Downtown Fort Worth Inc. expects to begin a fundraising campaign for an additional $1 million to renovate Heritage Park Plaza, located on the north end of downtown on the banks of the Trinity River.

Andy Taft, president of the downtown advocacy organization, said $700,000 has already been raised through the Amon Carter Foundation, the Sid Richardson Foundation and Streams and Valleys, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the Trinity River. Another $1.5 million was set aside in the city’s $292 million bond election last year for work at the park, bringing the total to $2.2 million.

But based on a consultant’s study completed late last year, the coffers are $1 million short to reopen the park, Taft said. The monies would likely have to come from private and nonprofit donations, he said.

“If we can’t raise the money, a more modest plan B would allow the park to open but no one would be happy,” Taft said. “It has been shameful that this park has been fenced off for as many years at it has. We want to get that fence down and do it the right way.”

Taft said the money in hand would only partially fix some issues, and not all of those with the water fountains and lighting.

“It needs to be done in a high-quality manner,” he said.

The city park closed in 2007. A chain link fence has kept people out since. A structural assessment of the 112-acre park a couple of years ago found no significant safety issues. All the issues in need to repairs are in the 1.5-acre area at the top of the park, a section designed by famed landscape architect Lawrence Halperin.

The plaza was commissioned as the city’s gift to America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976. It has been named to the National Register of Historic Places and listed among Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places, and is on Historic Fort Worth’s Most Endangered Places list.

Civic and city leaders began working on plans to renovate the park a couple of years ago in the hopes of having the riverfront park reopened sometime in 2016.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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