Friday, August 9, 2019

What I Love About Fort Worth...

The following was written last month whilst I was stuck in limbo trying to fly to Arizona. I forgot about this, til today, along with another blog post I wrote whilst in the air, with that one being about the controversial Riveron Review of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

Without further adieu, let's see what I love about Fort Worth...

A few days ago I made mention of the latest fiasco of the ongoing Panther Island mega fiasco which has become America's Biggest Boondoggle. Well, maybe not the Biggest Boondoggle, I should probably concede, as it has been pointed out to me that nothing regarding Fort Worth is the Biggest or Best at anything in America. Perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision as America's Worst Boondoggle.

So, like I said, a few days ago I made mention of this fiasco after reading about a parking garage sinking which is part of the Encore Panther Island residential complex so highly touted as the first of many imaginary projects blooming on Fort Worth's imaginary island.

Well, apparently a guy named Dylan took some umbrage regarding what I have said, or say, about Fort Worth and its various shortcomings, like America's Worst Boondoggle, and so Dylan commented the following...

Dylan has left a new comment on your post "Will Panther Island's Encore Include Sinking Bridges?": 

The Panther Island Project has many issues, especially with the bridges that engineers are concerned about and contractors don't know how to build.

That said, many people would like to see the project as a whole come to fruition. Aside from Panther Island, there are many great things happening in this city. TEXRail is now open, a new arena is under construction (though it's a bit small), new hotels are under construction, and new residential buildings are being built throughout the urban core. There's certainly more happening in Fort Worth than in Wichita Falls.

So, I'm curious: Why do you hate Fort Worth so much? Is there anything positive you can say about the city? 

I shall try to help Dylan alleviate his curiosity.

Let's see if we can answer Dylan's probing question. Why do I hate Fort Worth so much? Well. I do not hate Fort Worth. Over my time of observing Fort Worth I have made note of a number of things which I do not think worthy of a modern era American city with a large population.

Let's just look at that first thing Dylan mentions in a la-de-da, no big deal way. Those three bridges, which Dylan tells us have been a bit of a problem because engineers have concerns, and the contractors do not know how to build the bridges which have been stuck in eyesore mode for years. And apparently the majority of the Fort Worth locals, and those who run Fort Worth in what is known as the Fort Worth Way, are okay with this, year after year after year.

Let's just start with why I have long given myself permission to say what I really think about Fort Worth, without doing any sugar coating. Early on I was offput by what I would characterize as false bragging. I would see this reflected frequently in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in what I came to call Green With Envy Syndrome, where that newspaper would have an article about something or someone and would claim that this that or the other thing was making towns far and wide green with envy, or give Fort Worth bragging rights, or some similar verbiage.

I found this bizarre. And then I soon also found myself personally experiencing longtime locals verbalizing what seemed to me to be totally delusional ideas about their town. This sort of struck me as some sort of be true to your school thing. That and some sort of civic inferiority complex and jealousy of Dallas, which is an actual world known town.

Let's take Sundance Square for example. When I moved to the DFW zone, signage in the downtown Fort Worth area pointed to Sundance Square. I had trouble finding a local who could tell me where this square was. Some thought it was parking lots by the downtown Chisholm Trail mural. After a couple years I learned that Sundance Square was the name given a multi-block downtown Fort Worth revitalization plan, with apparently no one realizing naming this Sundance Square, where there no square, was not a good idea.

And then after a couple decades of confusing the town's few tourists an actual square was built on those parking lots which had long been rumored to be Sundance Square, and then named Sundance Square Plaza.

Pointing out this non-existent square absurdity does not mean I hate Fort Worth, it means I find something goofy and not big city worthy.

And then there is a Fort Worth inept embarrassment such as the long closed, cyclone fence surrounded Heritage Park. A park supposedly celebrating Fort Worth's heritage. This has been a boarded up eyesore for over a decade, located at the north end of downtown, across from the Tarrant County courthouse. What sort of self respecting town would let such a thing go on, un-fixed, for so long? Pointing this out does not mean I hate Fort Worth.

The kid who pointed out the emperor wore no clothes, did not point this out because he hated the emperor. Instead the kid felt sorry for the emperor's embarrassing clueless naked condition and thought someone should mention it to him.

Same as pointing out that Fort Worth streets have few sidewalks, Fort Worth parks have way too many outhouses. And there are way too few parks for a city of Fort Worth's size. And way too few public pools.

And then add in the fact that Fort Worth charges an entry fee to its only two unique parks, those being the Fort Worth Refuge and Nature Center, and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Charging entry fees to two of a town's few parks is not worthy of a big city. Pointing this out does not mean I hate Fort Worth.

Oh, I almost forgot when Fort Worth's city government, under the corrupt leadership of mayor, Mike Moncrief, decided it was a good idea to make Fort Worth the world's first experiment in massive urban gas fracking. Where I lived in east Fort Worth this resulted in two nearby frackings, noisy, dirty, dusty frackings which no modern city would allow on such a massive scale within its borders.

During the period when Fort Worth was getting fracked the town was basically run by a shadow government of Chesapeake Energy, operating out of the Pier 1 Imports building.

And then there is that Boondoggle which Dylan indicates he and others would like to see come to fruition. I have never ever said I thought the concept of the Trinity River Vision was a bad idea. I have said the idea has never been properly vetted, as in analyzed and examined and discussed in public forums of various sorts.

Then sold to the public. Who then vote to approve the public works project after being convinced it is a good idea. Thus funding the project in the way such projects get funded in other areas of America. Just look a few miles east of Fort Worth to Arlington to see how such miraculous wonders occur.

For instance, since Fort Worth began trying to build three simple little (un-funded) bridges over dry land, voters in Arlington voted to build a new baseball ballpark, which is nearing completion.

Dylan makes reference to that new Fort Worth arena, kookily called Dickies. The vote to build this was typically Fort Worth goofy. Half the funding from private sources. Half from the public who somehow approved of their half by passing three separate bizarre ballot measures. With one measure approving a fee on event tickets, another approving a fee on livestock stalls, and another an add-on fee on parking.

This just is not a normal way to have the public vote to approve a public works project. Pointing out this obvious fact does not mean one hates Fort Worth.

Switching back to the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

Pointing out the various absurdities of this Fort Worth embarrassment does not mean I hate Fort Worth. It is absurd that this boondoggle was foisted on the town's population as being a much needed flood control project. When the area in question has not flooded in well over half a century, due to levees long ago paid for by the rest of America. And if this were about actual needed flood control, why has the project not been actualized with any semblance of urgency?

And, might we add, there are actual serious flood control issues in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Deadly, property damaging flood issues in multiple locations.

Just look at what happens in the West 7th area when too much rain falls on that poorly planned new development.

Pointing out that Fort Worth is woefully lacking in the urban planning department does not indicate I hate Fort Worth.

When I moved to DFW, to the hamlet of Haslet, on the border with Fort Worth, huge tracts of open ranch land were all one saw, looking south to the teeny skyline Fort Worth barely poking the sky way in the distance.

It may have been 1999, maybe 2000, when Fort Worth had one of its many failures at luring a corporation to locate a facility in town. This instance was a HUGE Intel facility, to be built on land in the triangle formed when 287 exits I-35 on its way to Amarillo.

An overpass was built over I-35 as evidence of the effort Fort Worth would go to to please Intel, in addition to a lot of other perks. But, Intel went elsewhere, I believe to the town I am currently in, Chandler, Arizona. It does not take a rocket scientist to see why Intel would prefer this town to Fort Worth.

That new overpass was pretty much abandoned. I remember a period of time when a big pile of trash remained dumped on it for a long time.

And now, years later, the epic bad urban planning Fort Worth is infamous for is on full display at that location. Crossing that overpass over I-35 one now comes to a collection of stores, like Costco, Winco, Target, and many others. That is on the west side of the freeway. On the east side there is more development of the retail sort, including a mall.

Thousands of homes have been built on that open ranch land I saw when I was first in Texas.

And for the most part the roads are still in the same sad state they were in when I first drove them. North Tarrant Parkway, on its way to Highway 287 now goes around a poorly designed, un-landscaped, mess of a roundabout, which you exit to get on the same entry to 287 in the same bad condition it was in two decades ago.

I am appalled every time I see what has happened in that area of Fort Worth with which I was so familiar when I first moved to DFW. In modern America, like where I am right now, all that development, retail and residential, would had resulted after careful urban planning. Roads would have been upgraded, infrastructure, such as drainage, installed, parks built, and then the homes and businesses get built.

Pointing out the fact that Fort Worth lacks modern urban planning does not mean I hate Fort Worth. How many more kids are going to drown due to the increased water run off from all that poorly designed development?

I almost forgot that Dylan asked if there was anything positive I could say about Fort Worth. Well, over the years visitors visiting from the Pacific Northwest have unanimously been impressed by two Fort Worth attractions. The Fort Worth Stockyards and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

I have long thought Fort Worth sort of neglects the Stockyards. The lighting at night is terrible. The sidewalks are in bad shape in way too many places. And I've already mentioned Fort Worth is making a mistake now charging an entry fee to one of the town's few actual attractions.

I see I have gone long-winded with this, and boarding begins soon, if there is not another delay.

Before I close I want to make mention of another thing Dylan had to say, that being saying there is certainly more happening in Fort Worth than Wichita Falls. That comment came after Dylan mentioned the "great" things happening in Fort Worth, with those things being a new small arena under construction, new hotels under construction, new residential buildings and that TEXRail is now open.

TEXRail is a train link from downtown Fort Worth to the DFW airport, built on existing rail, covering about 20 miles. So, that and a few buildings under construction are great things happening in Fort Worth?

Well, let me point out to Dylan that Fort Worth is a town around 800,000 in population. Wichita Falls has a population around 100,000. Wichita Falls is still recovering from a multi-year drought which hit the town hard.

Wichita Falls has way more park acreage per town size than Fort Worth. And I have never seen an outhouse in a Wichita Falls city park.Wichita Falls has one public pool. For Fort Worth to have the same pool number, ratio-wise, Fort Worth would have eight public pools. Wichita Falls is part owner of a waterpark, Castaway Cove, thus making for a much less expensive entry fee than Arlington's Hurricane Harbor.

Downtown Wichita Falls has been making a lot of improvements since I first saw its rundown reality.

Unlike Fort Worth I have experienced no delusional verbiage about something ordinary in Wichita Falls being the envy of anyone. And, I like how Wichita Falls seems to have a sense of the town's history, its booms and busts, its ups and downs. I've detected zero false bragging in Wichita Falls about anything, well, there is that historical marker denoting the World's Littlest Skyscraper...

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