Northeast Tarrant

Upset about being ignored, arts groups in Bedford want answers

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.

Arts groups that use space at the Boys Ranch Park in Bedford launched email and social media campaigns this week when they learned there weren’t plans in place for them once construction gets underway to rebuild the park.

In 2017, voters approved a $70 million bond package for a makeover of the Boys Ranch Park, where buildings are outdated.

Plans call for ballfields, indoor and outdoor aquatics and a multi-generational building. There were also discussions concerning the arts organizations that use the buildings at the Boys Ranch Park.

The city council took notice of the concerns, and called a special meeting at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the former library building, 1805 Don Dodson Drive.

Council member Michael Boyter said it is all about looking at performing arts and what they bring to Bedford.

“Our challenge is that we need to create a clear vision for the city manager. I think we can do that,” Boyter said. “We’ve got to turn this into a constructive conversation. We want to partner wiht these groups.”

Mike Hathaway, president of Onstage, a community theater that has put on plays and other shows at the Boys Ranch Park for 35 years, sent an email to council members and city manager Brian Bosshardt questioning the lack of plans for the performing arts.

Hathaway argues that the theater is a year-round attraction and draws visitors from Irving, Lewisville and other cities.

He also sent an email and posted on Facebook urging Onstage supporters to contact city officials.

“I won’t sugarcoat this. This whole project is about to get very ugly, very fast. I don’t think we’re truly in any immediate danger, but I also didn’t think things would turn so nasty this past Tuesday night, so I’m ‘rallying the red shirts’ and your words to go on the offensive now,” Hathaway wrote.

Stephen Thornton, treasurer of Arts Council Northeast, said he was disappointed but not surprised when he learned there were no specific plans in place. The Arts Council and Trinity Arts have painting, photography and pottery classes in the building across the street from Onstage.

“We have been around for 25 years. This is a tradition in the community,” Thornton said.

“If they (city officials) are trying to establish community relations, they shouldn’t kick out the arts. When you underpin supporters, you are going to run in to problems,” he 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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