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The Sad State of Heritage Park

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#1 Fort Worthology

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 01:40 PM

I've written an article examining the current state of the now-closed Heritage Park. It's online at West and Clear:

http://westandclear....k-still-closed/

Never had a topic dedicated solely to the park, so I thought I'd start one. I do hope the city's got some intention of cleaning it up and renovating it. As you can see from the article, it's in a rather sorry state.

2225413348_efc10c8dc1.jpg



#2 gdvanc

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 06:24 PM

Oh, Kevin, just embrace the spirit and preserve the carelessness which inspired those lacking vision or courage to neglect our heritage.


There's something I've always liked about Heritage Park. Last time I was there several years ago, though, someone was bathing in one of the water effects. While I applaud the attempt at maintaining some level of hygiene in his unhappy circumstance, it was sad that the park had become so forgotten that it afforded sufficient privacy for bathing.


Here's something that may interest fans of the park or of Halprin: The Fate of Lawrence Halprin’s PublicSpaces: Three Case Studies. It's a Master's thesis in Historic Preservation presented by Alison Hirsch to the faculties of UPenn in 2005.




#3 John T Roberts

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 06:46 PM

Several in the preservation community have inquired about the park and we don't seem to be getting any answers. For some reason, I feel there is a bulldozing coming, and it is a "done deal".

#4 safly

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 10:51 PM

Hopefully something better will be created in it's place. Great views. Always liked the potential it had to be a wonderful public viewing vantage point.
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#5 Birdland in Handley

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 01:41 AM

There's some good work in this week's FW Weekly. Hopefully it will draw attention, especially from those who live and work Downtown and who would potentially support renovation most. But those who didn't live or work or visit Downtown a while back won't know what a great space it was, say ten-fifteen years ago.
WHAT CAN WE DO? Suggestions, please, then we're on it.
And what are /were those stone foundation and wall ruins down the bluff from the park? Sadly, our last visit to the park was probably in the early 00's and we didn't go far enough down to see if they're still there.

#6 Now in Denton

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 12:38 PM

The park will be moth balled till TRV is done. Whenever that is.

#7 bburton

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 10:26 PM

Having seen better days sad.gif Here are some pictures from three years ago when the water was flowing and this urban oasis was green:

"Embrace the spirit and preserve the freedom which inspired those of vision and courage to shape our heritage."













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#8 Dismuke

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 11:29 PM

QUOTE (John T Roberts @ Feb 1 2008, 08:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Several in the preservation community have inquired about the park and we don't seem to be getting any answers. For some reason, I feel there is a bulldozing coming, and it is a "done deal".



Wait a minute....I thought the park was owned by the city or the county. If so, then don't have to tell anyone who asks what the plans for it are? Isn't there some person one can ask who has to provide that information and is required to answer truthfully - and if they don't one can properly file a complaint or lawsuit which will be taken seriously? It is not like the thing is a military installation or something. Aren't any official discussions about what is and is not done with such parks part of the public record?

If what you are suggesting is true - well, it strikes me that there is perhaps a potentially juicy story here for some of the media types who have been known to lurk the forum.
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#9 John T Roberts

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 10:21 PM

The park is owned by the City of Fort Worth and we, as citizens, do have the right to inquire about the plans for the park. I think the proper thing to do is to file under the Freedom of Information Act, if questions are not being answered appropriately. Any individual or group can file the paperwork under the act, and I believe the public entity has to respond within 10 days. I'm not sure what recourse can be obtained if the City does not respond.

Any official discussions about what is and is not done with parks should be a part of the public record, but I'm not aware of when items have come up to the Boards, Commissions, and City Council regarding Heritage Park. I wish this forum would be a better watchdog on City Council Agenda Items. If anyone is concerned about Heritage Park, I would suggest that you try to get as much information as possible regarding its closing and its future. If there are groups or organizations who are interested, I would suggest that they file under the Freedom of Information Act to find out about what has happened and what will happen to the park.

#10 360texas

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 03:25 PM

Did a quick search on the Fort Worth Home page. Looks like it might be as simple as an email PublicInformation@fortworthgov.org Might read through information about "How do I submit a Public Information Request" to make sure you write an effective request - most bang for your buck [email] !!

http://www.fortworth...;fragment=False

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#11 Fort Worthology

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 04:11 PM

I've gotten some word back from the city already. As I reported on West and Clear, I got this from Harold Pitchford:

"Heritage Park is currently undergoing an assessment, much as what was done recently with the Water Gardens. We expect a report sometime in the near future."

#12 Fire-Eater

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 05:11 PM

QUOTE (Atomic Glee @ Feb 26 2008, 06:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've gotten some word back from the city already. As I reported on West and Clear, I got this from Harold Pitchford:

"Heritage Park is currently undergoing an assessment, much as what was done recently with the Water Gardens. We expect a report sometime in the near future."


Why not? Why not have Tarrant Community College be given the job of restoring and maintaining the park as part of the mitigation they'll be required to perform for that Corps of Engineers permit? It could be a GREAT City-County partnership!
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#13 bhudson

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 06:07 PM

QUOTE (Fire-Eater @ Feb 26 2008, 05:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Atomic Glee @ Feb 26 2008, 06:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've gotten some word back from the city already. As I reported on West and Clear, I got this from Harold Pitchford:

"Heritage Park is currently undergoing an assessment, much as what was done recently with the Water Gardens. We expect a report sometime in the near future."


Why not? Why not have Tarrant Community College be given the job of restoring and maintaining the park as part of the mitigation they'll be required to perform for that Corps of Engineers permit? It could be a GREAT City-County partnership!


WHAT!?

I'd say an appropriate penalty for what TCC has done (and not done) would be something along the lines of removing their access to tax dollars. I'd sure as hell not assign them more publicly funded projects.

This isn't some private entity that you're trying to punish. If you apply a fiscal penalty to TCC, it is our pockets that will pay it.

#14 GenE

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 08:54 PM

QUOTE (360texas @ Feb 26 2008, 03:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Did a quick search on the Fort Worth Home page. Looks like it might be as simple as an email PublicInformation@fortworthgov.org Might read through information
about "How do I submit a Public Information Request" to make sure you write an effective request - most bang for
your buck [email] !!

http://www.fortworth...;fragment=False



The current bane of my life is my current job assignment being Open Records administrator in a state agency, and
I can tell you this general information. (ORR=Open Records Request)

1. Although it seems to indicate that emails are ok, verify this...the open records manual I use, states no faxes and no emails.
I would advise that you send it registered mail to the most direct address you can get. (i.e. constituents of my agency write
to a p.o. box, (although a physical address is available) where mail
is opened and then distributed to many, many offices in the agency. I have seen delays as much as 4 weeks., which totally
screws up the 10 day deadline.


2. Open records coordinators are not required to answer questions...i.e. "What is going to happen to Heritage Park"
But they are required to provide access to records which are open to the general public. See #3.

3. Be specific in your request. Don't say "any and all records concerning Heritage Park" ask for specific records
concerning the plans and/or upkeep, current use, current costs, (and so on).

The coordinator has 10 days to process your request and provide a response, generally in the form of an invoice
for charges related to coping, postage, etc.. You will not necessarily receive your response in 10 days. You must pay
the invoice, and then they will mail the copies to you. If email is acceptable to both parties, they may offer to
send you electronic records.

If the Open Records Coordinator believes that certain records are privledged and confidential by law,
they prepare a request to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to request a ruling on whether the
records are confidential or not. The ORR coodinator will send you a letter telling you that they have
requested an OAG opinion and that OAG will notify you directly of the decision.

Bear in mind, ORR's might be different on a city or county level. The web page for the Office of the Attorney General
should provide more information about Open Records Requests.

GenE



#15 Fire-Eater

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 09:11 PM

QUOTE (bhudson @ Feb 26 2008, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Fire-Eater @ Feb 26 2008, 05:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Atomic Glee @ Feb 26 2008, 06:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've gotten some word back from the city already. As I reported on West and Clear, I got this from Harold Pitchford:

"Heritage Park is currently undergoing an assessment, much as what was done recently with the Water Gardens. We expect a report sometime in the near future."


Why not? Why not have Tarrant Community College be given the job of restoring and maintaining the park as part of the mitigation they'll be required to perform for that Corps of Engineers permit? It could be a GREAT City-County partnership!


WHAT!?

I'd say an appropriate penalty for what TCC has done (and not done) would be something along the lines of removing their access to tax dollars. I'd sure as hell not assign them more publicly funded projects.

This isn't some private entity that you're trying to punish. If you apply a fiscal penalty to TCC, it is our pockets that will pay it.


Mitigation is all about fiscal penalties. In order to get their Corps permit, TCC is gonna have to make good on the destruction they hath wrought. With regards to the National Environmental Protection Act & National Historic Preservation Act, whenever a project causes adverse effect (as the TCC project has been assessed to cause) to the natural or cultural environment, mitigation, to offset the damage, must occur.

So, those of you who are upset about the money being spent will be interested to learn that even more money will be spent by TCC in mitigation costs.

Removing their access to tax dollars, although a great idea, is not mitigation!

I have worked for state and federal environmental offices and seen big mitigation bucks payed-out in order to get federal approval for projects. The Feds, with the Corps as the lead agency, will make TCC pay more than just construction costs for some form of required mitigation.

Somebody needs to tell TCC to stay south of the river. The Corps permit required for crossing the river will add more bucks to project costs.

I hate the $$$ waste that has occurred from lack of planning, ignorance, and poor management -- but it is also lamentable that their approach to dealing with historic archeological and architectural resources at the project site has been poor at best.
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History is but the record of the public and official acts of human beings. It is our object, therefore, to humanize our history and deal with people past and present; people who ate and possibly drank; people who were born, flourished and died; not grave tragedians, posing perpetually for their photographs. ~Bill Nye, History of the United States

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#16 Dismuke

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 10:57 PM

QUOTE (Fire-Eater @ Feb 26 2008, 11:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In order to get their Corps permit, TCC is gonna have to make good on the destruction they hath wrought.



I haven't been keeping up with things lately so perhaps this is something I have missed - and I sure don't want to open a can of worms with my question. But here it is nevertheless:

What sort of destruction have they wrought?

(Other than, of course, the demise of everybody's favorite architectural masterpiece One Commerce Place)


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#17 Fire-Eater

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 11:27 PM

QUOTE (Dismuke @ Feb 27 2008, 12:57 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Fire-Eater @ Feb 26 2008, 11:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In order to get their Corps permit, TCC is gonna have to make good on the destruction they hath wrought.



I haven't been keeping up with things lately so perhaps this is something I have missed - and I sure don't want to open a can of worms with my question. But here it is nevertheless:

What sort of destruction have they wrought?

(Other than, of course, the demise of everybody's favorite architectural masterpiece One Commerce Place)




You can read the Corps report regarding adverse effects here: http://www.swf.usace...levee/index.asp
WWSPFD?*

History is but the record of the public and official acts of human beings. It is our object, therefore, to humanize our history and deal with people past and present; people who ate and possibly drank; people who were born, flourished and died; not grave tragedians, posing perpetually for their photographs. ~Bill Nye, History of the United States

For me there is no greater subject than history. How a man can study it and not be forced to become a philosopher, I cannot tell. ~George E. Wilson




*What Would Susan Pringle Frost Do?

#18 bhudson

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 09:10 PM

QUOTE (Dismuke @ Feb 26 2008, 10:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Fire-Eater @ Feb 26 2008, 11:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In order to get their Corps permit, TCC is gonna have to make good on the destruction they hath wrought.



I haven't been keeping up with things lately so perhaps this is something I have missed - and I sure don't want to open a can of worms with my question. But here it is nevertheless:

What sort of destruction have they wrought?

(Other than, of course, the demise of everybody's favorite architectural masterpiece One Commerce Place)




Also, Dismuke, there is an interesting and informative article from the FW Weekly that was linked to in the "TCC comes to Downtown" thread.

Fire-Eater, I buy that mitigation might be in order generally speaking. I question whether it is appropriate in this instance, in that TCC is a publicly funded entity. I'm not sure what the precedent is for that. I would just prefer that TCC's penalty be 1) Remove them from authority regarding the completion of this project. 2) Submit (and get approved) correct permits for work already done and to be done. 3) Finish the project with external review/supervision and public scrutiny, and 4) Suffer a complete loss of credibility with the taxpayers (already done).

In light of what TCC has already done so far, it would straight out of Animal Farm to assign them the responsibility of restoring and maintaining a public space of historical importance.


#19 Fire-Eater

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:45 AM

QUOTE (bhudson @ Feb 27 2008, 11:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also, Dismuke, there is an interesting and informative article from the FW Weekly that was linked to in the "TCC comes to Downtown" thread.

Fire-Eater, I buy that mitigation might be in order generally speaking. I question whether it is appropriate in this instance, in that TCC is a publicly funded entity. I'm not sure what the precedent is for that. I would just prefer that TCC's penalty be 1) Remove them from authority regarding the completion of this project. 2) Submit (and get approved) correct permits for work already done and to be done. 3) Finish the project with external review/supervision and public scrutiny, and 4) Suffer a complete loss of credibility with the taxpayers (already done).

In light of what TCC has already done so far, it would straight out of Animal Farm to assign them the responsibility of restoring and maintaining a public space of historical importance.


It's because of what TCC has done that mitigation is required by the Feds. Also, mitigation is only required if they want a federal permit. They don't "have to" do anything -- if they choose that alternative, the Feds won't give them a permit and they can't build north of the river.

I agree that it's a shame that MORE public money must be spent because of their foolishness. It's kind of like when our government is sued because of wrong-doing: the taxpayers are required to suffer also.

In this situation, mitigation is entirely appropriate and required in many situations like this because of existing federal environmental laws.

Federal/State/Local consultation is required, which results in a memorandum of agreement, which often times requires mitigation.

Please reference http://www.achp.gov/regs-rev04.pdf
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History is but the record of the public and official acts of human beings. It is our object, therefore, to humanize our history and deal with people past and present; people who ate and possibly drank; people who were born, flourished and died; not grave tragedians, posing perpetually for their photographs. ~Bill Nye, History of the United States

For me there is no greater subject than history. How a man can study it and not be forced to become a philosopher, I cannot tell. ~George E. Wilson




*What Would Susan Pringle Frost Do?

#20 bhudson

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 01:49 PM

Well Fire-Eater, maybe you're right, I don't know. But it is my understanding that the permits that should have been submitted (but aren't) have little or nothing to do with north-of-the-river construction. That part is indefinitely delayed due to no money. The permits that they have not submitted are for work already completed or in progress.

Suffice to say, I really like Heritage Park. It was my favorite place in all of downtown to find some quiet solitude. Oddly, I think I liked it even more after the water was shut off. The park needs funding (both for renovation/repair and for operational expense of running and maintaining it), not more mismanagement. And it sits at a critical juncture. Heck, it may already be too late to save it.

I'd like to see some Water Gardens type of investment and stewardship from Parks and Community Services. Maybe a directive and funding is all they need, who knows?

#21 Fire-Eater

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 04:09 PM

QUOTE (bhudson @ Feb 28 2008, 03:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Well Fire-Eater, maybe you're right, I don't know. But it is my understanding that the permits that should have been submitted (but aren't) have little or nothing to do with north-of-the-river construction. That part is indefinitely delayed due to no money. The permits that they have not submitted are for work already completed or in progress.


In order to construct north of the river (the river is under U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction) the college must get a 404 permit from the Corps. In order to get the permit, they must file for it (which they have YET to do!) and complete federal environmental regulatory compliance procedures (in which mitigation is included). Of course, by the time it is all said and done, there may be NO MONEY LEFT to complete that half of the project!

WWSPFD?*

History is but the record of the public and official acts of human beings. It is our object, therefore, to humanize our history and deal with people past and present; people who ate and possibly drank; people who were born, flourished and died; not grave tragedians, posing perpetually for their photographs. ~Bill Nye, History of the United States

For me there is no greater subject than history. How a man can study it and not be forced to become a philosopher, I cannot tell. ~George E. Wilson




*What Would Susan Pringle Frost Do?

#22 bburton

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 11:18 PM

There might be hope. smile.gif Maybe Fort Worth can do something similar for Heritage Park what San Antonio has just spent the last five years doing in that city: refurbishing the run-down Japanese Tea Gardens which had become extremely neglected and taken over by vagrants. Stories below:

http://tinyurl.com/ywcu75
http://tinyurl.com/2zd84a

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#23 Fire-Eater

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 11:40 AM

QUOTE (bburton @ Mar 9 2008, 01:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There might be hope. smile.gif Maybe Fort Worth can do something similar for Heritage Park what San Antonio has just spent the last five years doing in that city: refurbishing the run-down Japanese Tea Gardens which had become extremely neglected and taken over by vagrants. Stories below:

http://tinyurl.com/ywcu75
http://tinyurl.com/2zd84a


Beautiful!

There's no reason why Heritage Park couldn't be a wonderful element of the TRV. I say the park would be an appropriate recipient of TCC's mitigation efforts.
WWSPFD?*

History is but the record of the public and official acts of human beings. It is our object, therefore, to humanize our history and deal with people past and present; people who ate and possibly drank; people who were born, flourished and died; not grave tragedians, posing perpetually for their photographs. ~Bill Nye, History of the United States

For me there is no greater subject than history. How a man can study it and not be forced to become a philosopher, I cannot tell. ~George E. Wilson




*What Would Susan Pringle Frost Do?

#24 lonnzer

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:01 PM

It's sad to see the condition Heritage Park is in. I visited the park a couple of years ago and it was a total let down to see what had become of it. I can remember back when it first opened it was a pride of the city with many families visiting the park. During the bi-centinial celebrations of 1976 I purchased a brick for the walkway leading west out of the park.

#25 safly

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:16 PM

QUOTE (bburton @ Mar 9 2008, 12:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There might be hope. smile.gif Maybe Fort Worth can do something similar for Heritage Park what San Antonio has just spent the last five years doing in that city: refurbishing the run-down Japanese Tea Gardens which had become extremely neglected and taken over by vagrants. Stories below:

http://tinyurl.com/ywcu75
http://tinyurl.com/2zd84a



Notice the level of volunteerism in that particular article (Regional and Corporate). I know USAA is both a major employer and volunteer instrument of SA throughout it's rich corporate history. It's gonna take that level of work and activity to make this possible. All FW Corporations take note. I saw the misery that was the Japanese Tea Gardens firsthand back in '02 and '03, I grew up in SA visiting that once bountiful garden often as a child, probably got lost a few times too unsure.gif .

A great "no money fun" kinda place. Not too much of that here in FW. Can't wait to see the improvements.
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#26 Fort Worthology

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:04 AM

Great news on Heritage Park! The city has commenced restora...oh, wait. Never mind. It's still sitting vacant and decaying. What a horrible squandering of what could be brought back to a very cool little space. Portland did it with their Halprin-designed Ira Keller Fountain, and we could do it with our Halprin-designed Heritage Park.

Downside is that the park is still isolated there around the courthouse, especially since its nearest neighbor is a horrible parking garage (ah, Texas). As the TRV moves ahead, though, this could become a great space if we don't let it die of neglect or bulldozer.

(I particularly like the "Insulted and Humiliated" graffiti. While I doubt the sprayer had a commentary on neglect of Fort Worth urban public spaces in mind, it seems to sum up Heritage Park's situation pretty well.)





























#27 360texas

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:21 AM

If the park is chain locked and fenced how did you get the interior photo's ? Or were these taken before closure.

edited 10:08a

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#28 Fort Worthology

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:28 AM

The double post has been fixed. (The photos are from my DSLR, suitably tweaked for effect. The bleak Lomo-ish look works well for the current state of Heritage Park.)

The park's not chain locked. The fencing is almost comically inept. There are large gaps in it, and in fact when I was there one entire section had been picked up, placed on its end, and leaned against the wall, leaving the place wide open.

#29 Dismuke

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 10:36 AM

Let's say the fix the park up to where it is nice again. Here's my question: What's to stop it from quickly becoming nasty again?

While I have been through it probably two or three times, when the place was open I tended to avoid it and found it to be somewhat intimidating even during broad daylight.

The first time I was there, I suddenly stumbled upon a sleeping hobo right where I was about to walk. Some of the walkways in the park were very unpleasant to go through due to the overwhelming stench of urine. During the times I was there, nobody bothered me. But it was a place where one could reasonably expect to, at the very least, be panhandled. It certainly was a good place for a would-be mugger to lurk. While such a mugger might have to wait awhile for a victim to come through, when one does, chances are there will be nobody else around to witness or assist.

I have no idea how much crime actually took place in the park - perhaps it was very low. But that doesn't change the fact that, by its very set up, the park was a place a prudent person should have been, at the very least, on guard and cautious about before entering - especially if one was alone.

Much of the problem was due to the park's isolation and it's very design which took advantage of that isolation. That is one of the things that makes the park unique. But isolated locations with unrestricted access right in the middle of a highly populated area can also be kind of scary. One thing that would go a long ways towards making people feel safe and discouraging the vandalism is if there was more legitimate traffic through the park. On the other hand, the design of the park does lend itself to such traffic. Are there things that could be done to encourage such traffic - and, if so, would they "ruin" the intent of the park's current design?

Increased security would also help - but does it make sense to dedicate policemen to a little-used park when they could be doing other things elsewhere in the city?

Another possibility might be put in highly unique landscaping or perhaps sculptures or something which, in and of itself, would be a draw, and then charge a small fee for admission into the park leaving a small, less isolated portion of near the top of the bluff as free. Such an admission fee could be kept small enough to be affordable for legitimate users but high enough to discourage hobos. Any sort of admission fee would probably be opposed by some - but an example of one that already does exist in Fort Worth parks is the Japanese Garden in the middle of the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.

But if they simply fix the place back up again and that is it - well, wouldn't we still be right back to the point where it would once again become a place that most people would not find to be very inviting?
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#30 Fort Worthology

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 11:10 AM

It would need to be properly maintained and patrolled by police, as the Water Gardens is now. I'm not sure that having the park stopped into by bike officers throughout the day would be much of a big deal - they already patrol around the rest of downtown.

Getting the plants pruned back and cleaned up would help with the "creepy" feeling as well, I think. As it sits now, very overgrown, I agree that it has a creepy vibe. I've seen photos of it after it opened, though, and it was bright and inviting. We don't need to chop everything down, but the trees and such should be trimmed back.

Also, as far as attracting activity there - originally, the outer wall (with the "Heritage Park" lettering) had water flowing down it and was lit. Both that water feature and the lighting have not worked for a very long time, well before the park was closed. Getting that restored and installing better lighting would be a plus.

#31 Birdland in Handley

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 12:52 AM

360Texas, it's blocked but not much.
Please enjoy the old posts--I was delighted and fascinated to see them--of Atomic Glee's pix of the Hollywood Theater. I'd call it Urban Exploration, but there's a bit of a stigma, so lets call it Urban Explanation.
Though there should be no stigma to many Urban Exploration explorers. The good one have a strict code of ethics--never take anything, never deface.
And they brave those C.H.U.D.S.!
What can we do, who do we need to innundate with calls, what group to we increase by our numbers, to get to work on saving this?l

#32 djold1

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 08:54 AM

There's a reason that Upper Heritage Park is the way it is now. There are several reasons in fact.

In my opinion, the Halprin treatment of this beautiful, historic and potentially useful area was a total failure. It appears to me that good sense and good taste was sacrificed in the name of allowing a so-called "master" landscape architect to have his way without any regard as to whether the structures were appropriate to the site or embraced the history of the area.

The Trinity Bluffs west of North Main and the land attached as far south as Weatherford Street was the original Fort site after it came to the bluffs. After the Fort was abandoned, the area evolved into Market Square west of the Courthouse. From about 1900 to 1925 there was a pitched battle to save the Fort site and the Trinity Bluffs. Master landscape architects of national reputation including George Kessler & Fort Worth's own George Vinnege were at the center of the fray. The result was mixed and the land and bluffs were left to commercial development with some residual thought of saving the west Bluffs as a park of some sort.

In my opinion, Halprin's style of work may have been appropriate and appreciated in other places. However, the Upper Heritage Park design with it's cold hard edges, its enclosures that were/are more spooky than cozy and the close treetop roof were just not right for the site which should have worked toward projecting the original feel of the area as experienced by the first settlers and the encampment. The inclusion of "water" in almost any landscape design is considered to be one of those "magic" elements that somehow improves even the dimmest design. It didn't work at all for Halprin. The whole water scheme looks like an afterthought to me, designed to salvage the disaster.

Certainly the overlook was/is impressive. Given that view, how could you really go wrong? And I guess the somewhat pedestrian style of the supporting structure can be ignored it is is covered mostly by underbrush.

Here's something to think about historically: Early (c1876) illustrations and pictures do not show much in the way of large vegetation of the bluffs and the area south. I'm sure that if there was any, the Army and the settlers following them soon slashed and burned it. It was only later that the Bluffs became more wooded.

Following the 1917 bond election the old Jail across the street to the northwest of the Courthouse was eventually removed and entire area behind the Courhouse became a small puiblic park bound by busy streets. While it protects the northern Courthouse elevation for those entering down North Main, it ultimately became less that it could have been.

Both this little park and Upper Heritage lack accessibility by visitors. Parking is the key to making these spaces useful. Not only that, free parking is really necessary for this kind of use. So, right now, these public areas simply lock out tourists and dedicated vistors.

My best short term suggestion is for the Parks department to demolish the Halprin embarrassment, thin the trees at the top and the underbrush down the bluffs and then rehab the overlook for casual downtown visitors. Thereby using the site and holding it for future improvement. The cost will be minimal and the resulting park areas somewhat useful at least.

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#33 RD Milhollin

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 12:17 PM

I may have missed it but it seems that no one on the forum noted the passing of Heritage Park architect Lawrence Halprin October 25, 2009.

Here is the SF Chronicle obituary.

Perhaps, as with fine art, the percieved value of the artist's work will rise in the eyes of the public once that artist is gone.

Now that there are not any "Halprins" being created we should work harder to preserve and curate what we have left.

#34 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 08:12 PM

I was going to post it, but I never got around to it.

#35 Urbndwlr

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 04:40 PM

It appears that Downtown Fort Worth Inc and other local entities including some leading local foundations are leading the charge on restoring and, as importantly, IMPROVING Heritage Park. A workshop was held not long ago seeking input on how to make it work better. I did not attend but understand improving connectivity with Downtown and the Trinity River Trails are a big part of the forthcoming plans. See Downtown Fort Worth Inc if you have an interest in helping or learning more as I think they are the ones quarterbacking the improvements.

#36 djold1

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 08:16 PM

As I have said previously, I hope that the renovation of Heritage Park will simply dump the ugly Halprin "features". Even the best designers and architects (And I am not sure he really fits into the top class anyway) fail occasionally. Heritage Park is a blot on his legacy.

The park area at the top of the Trinity bluffs next to Paddock Viaduct is potentially one of the most scenic and enjoyable spots in the city. Simplicity, restraint and the intelligent use of the topography are all that is needed to return this site to the public. There is no need for artifical architectural features other than an overlook platform.

Turn the concrete into rubble and move it out..

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#37 Birdland in Handley

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:45 AM

We certainly enjoyed the park whan it was extant. This park was closed at the nadir of north downtown's attractiveness. More and more people are living downtown, and parks that have residents using them tend to be pleasant. Restored, this could be a fine Mid-Cent feature for residents and visitors.
It takes up a small part of a BIG bluff.

#38 ttomlin

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 12:39 PM

Good news about Heritage Park!

Found at www.kera.org:

Fort Worth’s Heritage Plaza Now Officially Both Endangered and Historic
Posted on May 19th, 2010 by Jerome Weeks
The downtown park, designed by Lawrence Halprin, has just been placed on the National Register of Historic Places – the announcement was made in D.C. today. This comes slightly over a year after it was also named one of Texas’ most endangered historic sites. The 112-acre park next to the Tarrant County Courthouse has fallen into disrepair, has structural problems — which is why it’s currently fenced off and closed to the public as unsafe.

Heritage Plaza is considered one of the finest examples of modernist landscape design in the U.S. Charles Birnbaum is president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, which just held a regional symposium in Dallas-Fort Worth on post-war Texas landscape and which has an online oral history of Halprin. Birnbaum says the Heritage registration is an honor for Fort Worth. He also hopes it will energize fundraising to restore the park.

#39 Volare

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 04:49 PM

This is great news. Hope is alive!

#40 Dismuke

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:43 PM

It is pretty rare for something under 50 years old to get added to the National Register. For a moment, I questioned if it was even possible. But based on a VERY quick google search, it is in certain circumstances.
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#41 John T Roberts

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 09:09 PM

Dismuke, I was going to explain, but I'm glad you did your research.

#42 djold1

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 08:43 PM

QUOTE
The downtown park, designed by Lawrence Halprin, has just been placed on the National Register of Historic Places – the announcement was made in D.C. today. This comes slightly over a year after it was also named one of Texas’ most endangered historic sites. The 112-acre park next to the Tarrant County Courthouse has fallen into disrepair, has structural problems — which is why it’s currently fenced off and closed to the public as unsafe.


This release is pretty ambiguous. Would someone please clarify:

If I am not mistaken according to the submission documents, I believe that the only part that is to be put on the National Register is the one-half acre Plaza area at the top of the bluff that holds the currently dilapidated and non-functional Halprin structures. Not the entire 112 acres. Is this correct?

If so, what is protected on this small site? The land itself? The ornamental structures? Or both?

In any case, what are the limitations to revisions of the land and/or the structures on it if they are under protection?

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#43 gdvanc

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 09:50 PM

Pete, that's correct: the designation is for the (1/2 acre) plaza only. I expect that all of the Halprin-designed elements are what are registered, but I'm not sure what level of protection they are provided as a result of that. I'm sure the city can manage demolition-by-neglect as well as anyone.

Here's a link to a PDF version of the registration form prepared by Historic Fort Worth. (Nice job, guys! Lot's of information there. I think I'll download a copy.)

http://www.nps.gov/n...geParkPlaza.pdf

Back to the books. Y'all take care...

#44 Volare

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 09:24 AM

More talking...

 

http://www.star-tele...es-default?rh=1



#45 renamerusk

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 11:11 AM

 

 "Panther Island."

 

8489891520_b7ce3c3250_o.jpg

 

 

 

More talking...

 

 

"Where is the "Fort?" has had me and others sometime to ask.

 

I wish that a park containing a life size replica of the original fort (camp) can be established on the island.  It would make a visit to  Heritage Park's observation deck that much more interesting; and Panther Island more interesting too.

 

Keep Fort Worth folksy



#46 RD Milhollin

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 09:37 PM

The "fort", more accurately a camp, was on the bluffs. I would rather see a replica built on the bluff even if it was not in the exact location for more historical accuracy. If the deteriorating fountains at Heritage Park were taken out that might be an interesting idea for reuse of the property, although the camp was much bigger. Maybe a replica of one of the buildings… The flagpole is at the east end of the old courthouse is a replica of the one from the fort if I remember correctly.



#47 John T Roberts

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 10:06 PM

The approximate location of the "fort" was directly west of the Courthouse.



#48 Fort Worthology

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 12:52 PM

I, for one, would much rather see Heritage Park restored than see it removed for a fort replica.



#49 djold1

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 02:36 PM

Absolutely..  The concrete water mess that's in there is totally inappropriate to the site.  I doubt there's room for much of a Fort, but even so the area could stand on it own with anything as a place for people to gather and enjoy teh view..


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#50 Fort Worthology

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 04:05 PM

"Concrete water mess?"  I think that's really unfair.  Heritage Park needs TLC and maintenance - it's only a mess because it's trashed.  Looking at photos of it when it was new and maintained, and even strolling through it before it was closed, I felt like one could just feel the potential for a really cool place to be.  It can be that again with some attention paid to it.







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