Fort Worth

Learn more about new state park dubbed ‘Metroplex’s playground’

Park Superintendent John Ferguson is shown above Lake Tucker at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in June 16.
Park Superintendent John Ferguson is shown above Lake Tucker at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in June 16.

A new state park west of Fort Worth is still at least four years away from unlocking its gates, and Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are seeking feedback this week about the park’s future.

The Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, which is being designed to be used by residents from Tarrant County and the rest of the Metroplex, sits about 80 miles west of Fort Worth near the town of Strawn.

While most of the land has been purchased, funding is still needed to complete the park. State legislators are expected to take up the matter when they reconvene in January.

“I would say this is an opportunity to provide input into their future of recreation for the Metroplex that will be listened to by the folks at TPWD,” said John Ferguson, superintendent of the state park. “This is going to be a great place for folks in Dallas and Fort Worth to come out and spend the day or the weekend.”

The 4,400-acre park, which some have dubbed the “Metroplex’s playground,” features 1,200-foot ridge lines and tree-covered land surrounding Palo Pinto Creek. The park was funded with proceeds from the sale of land that is now the Tarrant Regional Water District’s Eagle Mountain Park.

The story of the park’s origin — tied to a 2008 shooting at the Mule Lip Bar in Mingus — was published in the Star-Telegram in July.

“I know one thing we are going to show are sketches showing the layout cabins and RV sites,” Ferguson said. “We will be talking about number of cabins and number of RV sites in the park.”

It’s also a chance for church groups and other organizations to voice their opinion on facilities for larger groups.

One underlying issue remains for the park to be completed. Texas Parks and Wildlife will be seeking funding from legislators at the next session to construct the facilities at the park. Earlier this year, Parks and Wildlife officials said it could take as much as $30 million to construct the facilities.

State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, helped secure funding for the park from proceeds of the Eagle Mountain Park sale. Geren said it may be a difficult environment going into the next session.

“I’m going to be very supportive of funding that park going into the next legislative session,” said Geren, adding that legislators may be facing funding challenges. “It's a great asset and the state of Texas needs to develop of it. I just don't know how soon that will happen.”

Officials in Strawn have been meeting with legislators to generate support for the project.

“The development of this park really depends on the people of Fort Worth and Dallas being in contact with their legislators and showing their support for this park,” said Jeff Hinkson of the Strawn Chamber of Commerce. “Ultimately if the Legislature hears from its constituents, this park will happen.”

Strawn City Secretary Danny Miller said the park could be a boon for the small Palo Pinto County town.

“For us, it’s an economic catalyst,” Miller said. “It means jobs, restaurants, bait shops — everything that comes with a state park. The Legislature is going to have to make a tough decision on who gets funding. We hope to be on the list.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

Palo Pinto Mountains State Park meetings

▪  Wednesday at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd, Ft. Worth, Texas, 76107 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Oak Hall of the Garden Center.

▪  Thursday at the Strawn School cafeteria, 224 East Walnut Street, Strawn, Texas, 76475 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.