Fort Worth, Texas – In the burgeoning precinct of Fort Worth’s southernmost reaches, the span of 67 acres that has lain dormant for nearly a decade is poised for a renaissance. This tract, known as Oak Grove Community Park, awaits its metamorphosis after a long period of inactivity that stretches back eight years.
Acquired in November 2015, the expansive land parcel, nestled south of Everman Parkway and to the east of Oak Grove Road, was a strategic procurement by Fort Worth’s Parks & Recreation Department. This prescient move was made in response to the anticipated surge in population in the contiguous locales of Everman and Forest Hill.
Residents additionally want walking trails and recreational playgrounds near Oak Grove Community Park
Claire Harvey, a resident who made the community her home in 2016, discerned an acute necessity for enhancements such as walking trails and recreational playgrounds. Her observations became particularly astute when she noticed the untouched expanse bordering the esteemed Roy Johnson STEM Academy, a flagship institution of the Everman ISD. Prompted by the seemingly stagnant state of affairs, she engaged in dialogues with the parks personnel, querying the palpable lack of advancement in the area’s development.
Despite the evident need, Harvey noted a series of setbacks in procuring necessary funding. The city’s bureaucratic machinery had earmarked funds for the park’s development in successive bond proposals, but each attempt faced rejection. However, hope emerged on the horizon when, in 2021, Chris Nettles, the council member representing District 8, began his electoral campaign. Harvey, with unyielding determination, seized the opportunity and thrust the park’s cause into the spotlight of Nettles’ attention.
“I was like, ‘We really need this. It will bring in so much attention and care and help with the general morale of the neighborhood,’ which was really lacking,” she said as reported by Fort Worth Report. “It can be very isolating when we don’t have access to our community center up in Highland Hills because there’s no walking, no biking, no real vehicle path to it.”
Chris Nettles had previously expressed his concerns regarding the Oak Grove Community Park project
As urban sprawl and commercial endeavors march steadily towards the Fort Worth expanse of Everman Parkway, Chris Nettles astutely advanced a cogent argument to earmark the Oak Grove Community Park for special consideration in the 2022 bond election. Observing the property, which strikingly resembles a desolate expanse rather than an inviting park, Nettles, who once called this neighborhood his domicile, expressed his concerns.
In a recent assembly convened for public discourse, Nettles divulged the acquisition of a $3 million allocation. While this sum might be perceived as a mere drop in the bucket given the monumental task ahead, it symbolizes the initial strides in an arduous journey to amass the requisite funds. Nettles affirmed a steadfast commitment to harnessing additional financial resources, not only to foster the park’s evolution but also to enhance the adjoining infrastructure.
O’Flinn Design Group should provide the design project for Oak Grove Community Park
Entrusted with the architectural blueprint for Oak Grove is the esteemed O’Flinn Design Group, renowned for their masterful designs of North Z Boaz Park and Chisholm Trail Community Park. The forthcoming year will witness the meticulous crafting of Oak Grove’s master plan, culminating in its ratification by Fort Worth’s parks advisory committee and the City Council in 2024. During this pivotal community interaction, Larry O’Flinn, the linchpin of O’Flinn Design Group, facilitated an engaged dialogue, aiding residents in prioritizing the essential amenities for the park.
However, Patrick Vicknair, an adept parks project overseer, elucidated that while the current bond allocation could potentially realize the community’s paramount requisites, and perhaps even its subsequent ones, a considerably larger financial infusion is imperative to bring the holistic vision to fruition.
Echoing a collective sentiment, the community conveyed to O’Flinn their fervent aspirations for the park. Their wish list encompassed a plethora of facilities ranging from playgrounds, serene walking trails, bucolic picnic spots, outdoor fitness zones, to essential shade and ambient lighting. Additionally, resonating a unanimous safety concern, residents mooted the idea of erecting barriers around two proximate educational institutions, thereby ensuring students remain within designated bounds and do not inadvertently stray into the park.
“It’s going to become a destination,” O’Flinn said. “It’s going to become a place where people will go, ‘Let’s meet at the park,’ or ‘Let’s have this event in the park,’ and everybody will know which park they’re talking about.”
In the tapestry of Oak Grove’s impending design, public art is poised to play a pivotal role, as elucidated by Larry O’Flinn. Furnished with a budget of $250,000, the cultural bastion, Arts Fort Worth, will marshal a select cadre of five to seven community luminaries. Their mandate will be to cherry-pick a distinguished artist and to meticulously oversee the nuances of the project.
The portals for residents to weigh in on Oak Grove’s future remain ajar. Apart from traditional channels, an online survey offers an avenue for stakeholders to delineate their insights. In a bid to sustain this dialogue, the O’Flinn Design Group has charted a return to the community. Slated for approximately two months hence, this second congregation will unroll preliminary sketches and potential master plan alternatives. Pertinent details, including the rendezvous date, will be promulgated on the city’s dedicated Oak Grove webpage.
While municipal functionaries project a timeline spanning two to three years for the crystallization of the park’s inaugural amenities, the canvas of the future is already vibrant in the imagination of some denizens. Sandra Jones, a stalwart of the community, envisions familial gatherings, echoing laughter around picnic setups, and spirited basketball games, all under the watchful eyes of proud parents. In her contemplation, the park’s advent serendipitously aligns with the community’s zeitgeist.
“They’ve put all this new housing and apartments around here, but there isn’t anywhere for us to go,” Jones said. “They’re going to do something out here; I think they will. I think the more people that come out, the more work we’re going to see.”