Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Amid persistent opposition from residents, City Council members killed a proposal to build a road along the edge of Trinity Park, saying they want to “go back to the drawing board” to ensure that any future road has a minimal impact on the park.
But protesters, including state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, said the council should go a step further and amend the city charter to require a citywide vote before parkland could be given up for a road. The charter already requires a vote before parkland can be sold.
“Whether parkland is sold or is asphalted over, it is gone,” said Pat Cheong, president of the League of Women Voters of Tarrant County.
The road, which would have run alongside the park and cut through one section, was included as a possible future project in the city’s Master Thoroughfare Plan, which determines where streets will go. It was not funded and had not been approved for construction.
Still, a coalition of residents had mounted a campaign against the road, circulating e-mails and other information, and had marched in protest.
Councilwoman Wendy Davis questioned some of the information that had circulated about the proposed road.
“I’m concerned about a lot of rumors and unfair conclusions and conspiracies,” Davis said.
Still, she said, the proposal “doesn’t address the impact on the park. … We need to completely go back to the drawing board.
The proposed road had been included in city plans since 1990, although no money was ever earmarked for it, Transportation Director Robert Goode said. It was designed to relieve traffic on University Drive and West Seventh Street, and on the existing north-south road through Trinity Park. It would have required about 6.5 acres of the western edge of the park, most of which is currently a service center.
Most council members agreed with Davis, though, that revising the charter would be inappropriate. Councilman Sal Espino suggested notifying neighborhood and community groups about the potential use of parkland.
Councilman Donavan Wheatfall said he supported changing the charter to give voters more control of parks, but Councilman Jungus Jordan said each election would cost $265,000.
“I can equip five parks in my district with $265,000,” he said.
Burnam said the charter change would be the best protection.
“I know the difference between real public participation and faux public participation,” he said.
Resident Charles Dreyfus said the council set the wheels in motion a few years ago when it moved the proposed road to accommodate the South of Seventh Street development west of the park.
“It gave value to the developer; it took great value from the park,” he said.
“I’m concerned about a lot of rumors and unfair conclusions and conspiracies.”