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Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Government Council tackles gas compressors, trails and Casino Beach

Council tackles gas compressors, trails and Casino Beach

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

 

Gas compressor vote tabled The debate over gas line compressors continues, with the council delaying action on proposed regulations. If approved, the proposed rules would increase minimum setbacks between compressors and schools, hospitals and other protected uses. Current regulations require a 300-foot setback if the stations are fully enclosed and 600 feet if not fully enclosed. A proposal would extend the distance to 1,000 feet for non-industrial planned development districts or 600 feet with waivers from protected-use property owners or the council. Another change would require compressors needing to be rezoned to planned development designation to be reviewed by the city’s gas drilling review committee, which is not a current requirement. Some residents praise what they call a hard-fought compromise made after several meetings among energy companies, city officials and neighborhood associations. “It’s time to wrap it up. It’s time to do it,” said Libby Willis, chairwoman of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods’ gas drilling task force, urging swift passage of the proposed changes at the council meeting. But others disagreed. They asked the council to postpone action. “If Fort Worth is going to realize the full potential of the Barnett Shale, then it is important that our industry is able to deliver our product to market,” said Bob Manthei of XTO Energy Inc., which has natural gas drilling operations in the city. Manthei’s comments also came at the council meeting. Gas line compressors pressurize gas to be transported through a pipeline, but have drawn concerns from residents regarding potential noise, safety and pollution issues. “It does represent a compromise … however, we do have several unclear and inconsistent things in the ordinance that would create issues,” said Jimmie Hammontree, speaking of behalf of Access Midstream Partners and describing setback proposals as inconsistent. District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens expressed mixed feelings about the proposed changes. “You should know that when you buy property in an agriculturally zoned neighborhood, you expect cattle, ducks, chickens, things like that … but these proposed changes support what the neighborhoods want, and that’s something I support,” Bivens said. The council plans to revisit the issue at its Sept. 10 regular meeting.

Casino Beach agreement amended In other business, the council amended the city’s license agreement with the project developer of Casino Beach. In the original agreement with Casino Beach Properties Inc., plans for revitalizing Casino Beach at Lake Worth included about 12 acres of parkland and 3 acres of lake property. The developer planned to build and operate marinas on the lake property adjacent to city-owned parkland. But since the council authorized the agreement in March, the developer decided to relocate the marinas adjacent to another location nearby. That lake property where the relocated marinas are planned to be built and operate will be overseen by a separate agreement. Casino Beach Properties Inc. plans to revitalize Casino Beach at Lake Worth. Patterson Equity Partners Ltd. of Arlington, associated with Casino Beach Properties, plans to revitalize the city-owned property featuring 10,000 square feet of retail space, a 20,000-square-foot event center, an amphitheater, restaurants, a movie theater, a marina and a boardwalk. The property is located just south of Jacksboro Highway and bounded by North Surfside Drive to the west and Lake Worth to the south. Most of it stands vacant, with a portion serving as public park area. The city owns about 56 acres of vacant land on the north shore of Lake Worth, including the Casino Beach property. Federal grant Motorists frustrated by ongoing construction may be outpaced by pedestrians and bicyclists thanks to a newly awarded federal grant. “This is an amazing project,” said Mayor Betsy Price after hearing details of the $2.1 million grant to expand Trinity Trails from the West Rosedale Street bridge to downtown. With $431,200 in local matching funds, about $2.5 million in total funding has been secured for trail improvements along the east side of the Trinity River. The latest allocation brings total trails improvement funding to $8.1 million in the last three years. Supplying the federal portion of the latest grant is the State Transportation Enhancement Program, overseen by the Texas Department of Transportation. Key to securing much of that funding were the Tarrant Regional Water District and Trinity River advocate Streams & Valleys Inc., said Richard Zavala, director of the city’s parks and community services department. The agencies worked with the city in applying for grant funding. “This particular grant is very strategic in the sense that it will connect the Mistletoe Heights area and Rosedale [Street] to the downtown area,” Zavala said at the pre-council portion of the Aug. 6 regular City Council meeting. The trail extension will span 3,500 feet and run beneath Vickery, Chisholm Trail Parkway, West Rosedale and Interstate 30 bridges. Plans call for ramps and trailhead parking allowing trail users to reach pedestrian and bicycle lanes planned for Vickery bridge. At its northern end, the trail extension will reach the Phyllis J. Tilley Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Trinity River and serves as a passage between downtown and North Forest Park Boulevard. A project timeline has not been confirmed. “It’s amazing how many people are using the trails and how many are using them every day,” Price said.

 

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