Fort Worth designated first Age-Friendly Community in Texas

Fort Worth is the first Age-Friendly Community in Texas.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities helps participating communities become great places for all ages by adopting such features as safe, walkable streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities.

“This is really a communitywide effort,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “Once again we are leading the charge to improve the quality of life and quality of place so everyone can enjoy their life here in Fort Worth.”

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of the action plan that led toward the city becoming an Age-Friendly Community. The plan will be implemented with existing staff and budgets and will be incorporated into the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

In the U.S., more than three dozen communities representing more than a dozen states are enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

View a survey summary of age-friendly living in Fort Worth.

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Construction continues on Hemphill-Lamar connector

Construction of a new roadway that connects Hemphill Street to Lamar Street on the south end of the central business district is in full swing.

Excavation is underway just south of the Lamar Street and Lancaster Avenue intersection, and it is expected to continue on both the north and south ends of the project until early next year.

Construction of temporary railroad tracks has also started. After utilities have been relocated, the railroad tracks can be completed.

Residents should start to see tunnel walls placed by late January 2018.

The two-phase construction process is slated to be finished in early 2020.

Total cost of the project is $53 million with the city contributing $26.6 million. The remaining funding will come from the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Texas Department of Transportation and Tarrant County.

To learn more about the project, contact Project Manager Michael Weiss at 817-392-8485.

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City forester receives honor for service

Fort Worth city forester Melinda Adams received the John South Spirit of Extension Award from Texas AgriLife Extension.

The award is in honor of retired county extension agent for agriculture and Texas A&M Regents Fellow John South and recognizes an individual who provides exemplary support and service of educational programs that enhance the quality of life for the people of Tarrant County.

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Trinity River to be stocked with trout

Anglers, get ready to fish the Trinity for trout.

The river will be stocked with 2,100 fish by the Tarrant Regional Water District before noon on Dec. 21. The stocking will take place at Trinity Park and River Park.

While some of the fish will be caught within the first few hours of being released, it takes up to 48 hours for the fish to fully adjust to their new surroundings and to resume their normal feeding pattern. This process creates terrific fishing throughout the first weekend following trout release days.

Future stocking dates:

  • Jan. 3, 2018, Trinity Park (1,000 trout).
  • Jan. 4, 2018, River Park (1,000 trout).
  • Feb. 7, 2018, Trinity Park (1,000 trout).
  • Feb. 9, 2018, River Park (1,000 trout).
  • March 10, 2018, Flyfest at River Park (2,000 trout).

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City Council votes to update smoking ordinance

The City Council approved an ordinance that prohibits smoking in bars and bingo parlors as well as prohibiting retail smoke shops within 300 feet of schools, universities and hospitals.

“Fort Worth joins all other major Texas cities in going smoke-free,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “Fort Worth has made great strides in health and wellness, with many of our initiatives receiving national attention. The adoption of this ordinance, which will go into effect in 90 days, is another step forward in creating a healthier environment for all of Fort Worth — from workers to patrons, musicians to expecting mothers.”

This was the first update to the city’s smoking ordinance since 2008. The new law also governs the use of e-cigarettes in prohibited locations.

The new ordinance continues to allow smoking in outdoor dining areas and patios of public places as long as the area is at least 20 feet from entrances and exits. Smoking in private clubs will still be allowed.

The new ordinance prohibits retail smoke shops within 300 feet of schools, universities and hospitals. A retail smoke shop is defined as a business that earns 90 percent of its gross annual sales from tobacco, smoking and e-cigarette products.

Smoking in cigar lounges, defined as a business that earns 30 percent of its gross annual sales from cigars and cigar accessories, will be allowed.

The updated ordinance goes into effect March 12, 2018.

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New plan provides road map for city’s economic development

Fort Worth will unveil a new strategic plan for its economic development efforts to ensure the city can compete regionally and internationally.

“The City of Fort Worth has an opportunity – even a responsibility – to capitalize on its growing size, influence and economic potential,” said Robert Sturns, director of the Economic Development Department. “The plan is a road map for the city’s economic development program. Just as important, it is a call to action so that Fort Worth can embrace its status as a major U.S. city and compete on the national and international stage.”

The executive summary and four supporting volumes are available online.

The plan is structured around a bold vision: To compete successfully on the national and international stage for creative, high-growth businesses and the talented individuals who fuel them.

Supporting that vision are goals addressing competitiveness, creativity and community vitality.

There have been internal strategic plans and annual work plans for the City of Fort Worth Economic Development Department, but no comprehensive economic development strategy. Partner organization have had their independent strategic plans, but this plan is intended to provide some overall goals and insight to provide alignment in priority areas, Sturns said.

The strategic plan outlines key metrics for the city and partner organizations. Consultants also will conduct a one-year assessment to see how the Economic Development Department is progressing with the goals and metrics.

While some of the 200-plus recommendations are longer term, the plan is focused on a five-year time frame, 2018-2022. There should be progress in a fairly short timeline, Sturns said.

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Construction along northern section of I-35W in final stages

If you drive on I-35W north of Loop 820, you’ve probably noticed a significant number of road closures in recent weeks. That’s because crews are in the final stages of general construction on what’s called Section 3B of the massive project.

Final paving work is underway north of the loop, and significant construction operations will continue for the next several weeks as the final pavement surface is prepared and placed throughout the three-mile projects between Loop 820 interchange and U.S. 287.

Make note of these construction-related developments:

  • Both the Mark IV exit ramp and the direct connector from the North Tarrant Express TEXpress lanes on westbound I-820 to the northbound TEXpress lanes on I-35W are now open.
  • The Heritage Trace Parkway entrance, located on southbound I-35W, is open. The left-hand on-ramp is just past North Tarrant Parkway.
  • The Heritage Trace Parkway exit, the last northbound TEXpress lanes on I-35W, is open. The right-hand on-ramp is just past North Tarrant Parkway.
  • U.S. 287 south entrance to I-35W and northeast Loop 820 access is a left-hand on-ramp just past North Tarrant Parkway.
  • The off-ramp from southbound I-35W to westbound Spur 280 at downtown Fort Worth will remain closed through January 2018.
  • The off-ramp from eastbound I-820 to Beach Street has reopened.

Construction of the I-35W project in Fort Worth consists of two major phases. Most of Phase 1, which was developed by the Texas Department of Transportation, is now open. Drivers can use the new NTE TEXpress Lanes on I-35W to travel from just north of Northeast Loop 820 to US 287.

TEXpress lanes are toll lanes that are built within an existing highway. They add additional capacity to the highway to accommodate more traffic and relieve congestion. Unlike other toll roads, the price changes based on the level of traffic in the corridor to maintain a minimum 50 mph speed.

The TEXpress lanes are fairly new to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are unlike other toll roads in North Texas or throughout the state. It is the driver’s choice to drive in the TEXpress lanes and pay the tolls or to drive in the adjacent non-tolled general highway lanes.

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Additional land acquired for Mosier Valley Park

The City Council voted to acquire an additional acre of land to expand a city park in Mosier Valley, the historic community where the first freed Texans settled after news of the Emancipation Proclamation spread across the nation.

Mosier Valley Park is currently under construction. Amenities will include a playground, trails, shelter, benches, picnic tables, multiuse court and security lighting. The park will be accessible to the neighborhood and have an interpretive commemoration or historical designation area.

The city will pay $73,120 plus closing costs for the additional land at 11304 Mosier Valley Road.

“The establishment of Mosier Valley Park has been a wonderful vehicle that is unifying the community,” District 5 Councilmember Gyna M. Bivens said. “I will never forget the outdoor meeting we convened to show the community how they could participate in acquiring displays to be used at the park. I was literally blown away when we had a formal community meeting. Within 15 minutes, the crowd was at capacity, filling every seat at the historic St. John Missionary Baptist Church. We knew we were on the right track.”

“I commend city Park & Recreation workers who have embraced this project with respect and sensitivity,” Bivens said. “Considering the fact this location is where the first freed slaves settled in Texas, I am confident it will be one of the state of Texas’ destination spots.”

Mosier Valley was established in the 1870s on the north bank of the Trinity River just south of Hurst, Euless and Bedford, according to the Texas State Historical Association. It was founded by Robert and Dilsie Johnson and 10 other emancipated slave families.

Trinity River bottomland was given and sold to the freedmen by the Mosier and Lee plantation families, and the families established a close-knit farming community.

The heyday of Mosier Valley was from about 1910 through the 1930s. During this time it reached its peak population of perhaps 300. The area was annexed by Fort Worth in 1963.

In 2014, the City Council approved acquiring about four acres of land on the south side of Mosier Valley Road and west of Vine Street and Knapp Street from the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District and Tarrant County to build Mosier Valley Park.

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