TRWD approves funds for John V. McMillan Plaza


Jack Z. Smith Special Projects Reporter Fort Worth Business Press

The Tarrant Regional Water District board approved a $436, 359 contract on Tuesday for construction of the new John V. McMillan Plaza, which will feature a large statue of Fort Worth’s founder, U.S. Army Major Ripley Arnold. The board accepted a donation of $193,800 from Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives Inc. for construction of the plaza. It will be on the downtown campus of Tarrant County College on the north edge of downtown, at the confluence of the Clear and West forks of the Trinity River. The plaza will be at the approximate location where Fort Worth was founded.  

The construction job was awarded to Parkscape Construction of Roanoke, which had the lowest bid among four companies. The plaza is to be completed by April 30. The statue will be unveiled in a June 6 ceremony marking the 165th anniversary of Arnold’s 1849 founding of the military post known as Camp Worth, later named Fort Worth. It was named after Gen. William J. Worth, under whom Arnold served in the 1846-48 war between the U.S. and Mexico that followed the U.S. annexation of Texas in 1845. Water board member Jim Lane said the plaza will have a “magnificient design,” while adding that “everyone has done such a good job of putting this together.”  

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The plaza project earlier got a big boost from the Anfin family, associated with the Coors beer distributorship in Fort Worth. The family donated $250,000 for the commissioning of the 12-foot-high bronze statue of Arnold, which will rest on a nine-foot pedestal that will make it highly visible from various vantage points. The late McMillan, for whom the plaza is named, was the Coors distributor in Fort Worth and well-known in civic and political circles here. Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives Inc., which made the $193,800 donation for the plaza’s construction, is associated with Downtown Fort Worth Inc., a promoter of development and community activities in the downtown area. The grant money came from a $100,000 donation that Radio Shack Corp. earlier had provided to commemorate the name of Arnold, after the company acquired and tore down the Ripley Arnold public housing complex in constructing a new downtown corporate headquarters campus. Another $100,000 was donated by The Burnett Foundation.

 A small portion of the $200,000 already had been spent on preliminary work for the plaza project, leaving the $193,800 to help pay for construction. The TRWD had budgeted $10,000 for the transfer of the statue to the plaza site, but Wildcat Cranes of Fort Worth “generously donated” its services to move it, said Darrell Beason, TRWD director of operations. The college provided the plaza site at no charge, said J.D. Granger, executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority, which will maintain the plaza.