A fast-growing section of far south Fort Worth will see a 67-acre open space transformed into Oak Grove Community Park after eight years of inactivity.
Fort Worth’s Parks & Recreation Department acquired the land south of Everman Parkway and east of Oak Grove Road in November 2015 in anticipation of rapid population growth in the area, which borders Everman and Forest Hill.
Claire Harvey, who moved to the community in 2016, spotted the need for amenities like walking trails and playgrounds almost immediately. She started asking parks staff why there was little progress on the property, which sits behind Everman ISD’s Roy Johnson STEM Academy.
City staff included funding for park development in their bond proposals but kept getting denied, Harvey said. When District 8 council member Chris Nettles launched his campaign in 2021, Harvey brought the park to his 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. “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.”
With more housing and commercial development headed to the Fort Worth side of Everman Parkway, Nettles made the case to prioritize Oak Grove Community Park in the 2022 bond election. The property looks more like a “vacant lot” than a park, said Nettles, who formerly lived in the neighborhood.
“We were able to find $3 million — well, not so much find. We took it,” Nettles said to a laughing audience at a Sept. 14 public input meeting. “That’s just a start. We’re going to continue to find more dollars to bring to this park and also help with our roads.”
O’Flinn Design Group, which previously created master plans for North Z Boaz Park and Chisholm Trail Community Park, is handling Oak Grove’s design. The final master plan will be developed over the next year, culminating in its approval by Fort Worth’s parks advisory board and City Council members in 2024. During the public meeting, O’Flinn Design Group owner and principal Larry O’Flinn helped residents identify their priorities for park amenities.
The city has enough bond funding to build the community’s first priority, and perhaps its second, but will need more funds to carry out the rest of the master plan, Patrick Vicknair, a parks project manager, said.
Community members told O’Flinn that nearly all options were high priority, including playgrounds, walking trails, picnic facilities, outdoor fitness, shade and lighting. Residents also suggested fencing around two nearby school campuses to ensure students can’t run off into the park without supervision.
“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.”
Public art will also be a key element of the park design, O’Flinn said. With $250,000 to spend, Arts Fort Worth will convene five to seven community members to select an artist and oversee project details.
Residents still have a chance to voice their perspectives on Oak Grove, including through an online survey. O’Flinn Design Group will return to the community for a second public meeting in about two months with preliminary designs and alternatives for the master plan. The meeting date will be shared on the city’s webpage for Oak Grove.
While city staff say it will take at least two to three years to finish initial park amenities, longtime resident Sandra Jones already can see family reunions around picnic tables and kids playing basketball as parents look on. Development of the park couldn’t have come at a better time, she said.
“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.”
Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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