Northeast Tarrant

Bedford city council, manager clash over proposed plans for Boys Ranch Park makeover

Wildlife is thriving at Boys Ranch Park Lake in Bedford thanks to ‘the duck ladies’

Two years after the makeover of the Boys Ranch Park lake, problems are bubbling to the surface, and the city is making repairs. Residents want to make sure that turtles, ducks and other wildlife continue to live in a good environment.
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Two years after the makeover of the Boys Ranch Park lake, problems are bubbling to the surface, and the city is making repairs. Residents want to make sure that turtles, ducks and other wildlife continue to live in a good environment.

Several council members angrily questioned why some of the proposed design concepts for a complete makeover of the Boys Ranch Park were showing higher costs and eliminating performing arts.

During a long, contentious council meeting Tuesday, council members said they had little time to review 600 pages of information showing several proposals with costs from approximately $65 million to between $80 and $85 million and eliminate the building for the popular Onstage community theater, which is celebrating its 35th year in Bedford.

In 2017, voters approved a $70 million bond package to improve the Boys Ranch Park. Plans include ballfields, tennis courts, a pavilion and a “multi-generational” building with activities for senior citizens and fitness areas.

Councilman Michael Boyter, along with council members Dan Cogan, Ruth Culver and Amy Sabol, told city manager Brian Bosshardt to go back to the drawing board and bring them a new plan for the park in the $60 million price range.

Bosshardt said the reason that there were proposals with a higher price tag was that it would provide all of the amenities residents requested in a survey and during public meetings.

Bosshardt said in an email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that voters approved a $70 million bond package to improve the Boys Ranch Park in November 2017.

“The Mayor and City Council authorized selling $60 million of the voter-approved $70M holding $10M back to potentially apply to the arts in some fashion. As the design team commenced their work, they quickly realized that $60 million isn’t enough funding for the improvements desired by the community or as originally envisioned by staff,” Bosshardt wrote.

He added that he was asking the council whether they wanted to add all or part of the $10 million to the park improvements, but no vote was taken.

But Boyter countered that the same information was given in 2017 and that the consultant said the work could be done for $70 million.

“I am a little concerned that staff has given us something that will not make us (council members) look good,” Boyter said.

Mayor Jim Griffin told the Star-Telegram that he was trying to get the council to move forward because construction is supposed to start in January.

“I couldn’t get the board to see that we’re doing a real disservice if we are trying to package this for an X number of dollars…”

“Clearly it’s not going to have things the community wants,” Griffin said.

There were also questions on why a location for Onstage was not included in the plans given to the council.

Bosshardt said he never got directions from the council to find accommodations for Onstage.

“We never even contemplated finding space for Onstage. We have never contemplated anything for the nonprofits. This has not been on our radar, this should not be coming out of left field,” he said.

Onstage president Mike Hathaway, who attended the meeting, said he was “shocked” when he saw the proposal and said he felt like Onstage was being ignored, although it brings in revenue to Bedford and is also a year-round attraction that draws visitors from other cities.

Hathaway said although the majority of the council supports Onstage and the arts, he believes that city staff “shows an incessant amount of disrespect.”

“It’s that lack of regard, for what we bring to the table… We are not a footnote. To the city. We are part of the culture and history of Bedford,” Hathaway said.

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With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.

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