Fort Worth voters will face a $399.5 million bond election on May 5, primarily for streets and parks, after the City Council voted unanimously on Feb. 6 to call the election.
In the proposal, 65 percent is requested for streets and pedestrian mobility and 21 percent for parks and recreation. Also, 5 percent is targeted for a new police station on the South Side, 3 percent each for new animal care shelter on the far North Side, and 2 percent for library purposes. Public art percentages are set at the same rate as 2014 bond referenda (1 percent for transportation proposition; 2 percent for all others).
A change from the original proposal now has a new library farther south to address the growing population in that part of the city, said Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa. Also, the Wedgwood Library would be preserved.
Another change concerns the Northwest Community Center to provide flexibility for an alternative location through partnering with the school district or a nonprofit organization.
Key safety improvements would include neighborhood/school safety ($5 million), bridge replacement ($10 million), railroad crossings ($5 million) and street lights ($10 million).
Added transit network capacity would include improvements in addition to new corridors ($93.5 million), intersections ($30 million) and sidewalks/bicycle facilities ($15 million). Network maintenance would include thoroughfare, neighborhood and park roads ($65.5 million), revitalization of established thoroughfare corridors ($12.5 million) and traffic signals ($12.5 million).
The neighborhood park development project would include master planning, design and construction of eight neighborhood parks. Typical amenities include playground, picnic shelter, walking trail and practice fields. A total projected cost would be $3.76 million.
The community park development project includes complete development of six community parks. Amenities could include athletic fields, walking/biking trails, picnic facilities, soccer fields, playgrounds, park roads and parking for a total projected cost of $14.5 million.
Walks and trails would include the Trinity Trails Connection, a complete trail connection from the San Joaquin Trail to River Legacy Park trail ($4 million), and citywide construction of new trails to address gaps in connections ($3.5 million).
Funding is also proposed for athletic field lighting ($3 million) and community center improvements (over $28 million). Over $7 million is proposed for a new clubhouse for Rockwood Golf Course.
Over $1.3 million would be set aside for design and construction of public utility infrastructure to support new facilities at the Fort Worth Zoo.
The Fort Worth City Council and the City of Benbrook are discussing collaboration on a proposed emergency access bridge across the Trinity River north of Interstate 20 to connect the I-20 service road to Bellaire Boulevard.
Benbrook officials approached the City of Fort Worth about their desire to build the bridge. Although it would be completely within their city limits, Benbrook officials said they were aware of opposition from Fort Worth residents who are concerned about the potential increase in traffic if this bridge is open to the public. Benbrook also sought Fort Worth’s support because Benbrook must gain approval from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to use I-20 right-of-way on which the bridge would be located.
In an effort to ease residents’ fears, the cities said they would meet jointly with TxDOT to ask that it grant an easement for an emergency access bridge to the City of Fort Worth and that Fort Worth will grant a license to Benbrook, which includes the right to reject the final bridge design if it does not conform to the terms and condition of the agreement.
Benbrook would bear all construction and ongoing maintenance costs, and Fort Worth would have the right to revoke the license if use of the bridge is ever changed to more than emergency access.
District 3 Council Member Brian Byrd said he believes a solution can be reached without building a bridge. However, he added, since Benbrook officials are persistent, this contract will give Fort Worth residents the protections they need.
“The most important thing is that we do not need to increase traffic on Bellaire Drive,” he said. “An emergency-only bridge will allow Benbrook to take care of their people and at the same time will not increase traffic on Bellaire Drive. We must protect our neighborhoods in Fort Worth.”
In December, the Benbrook City Council voted to initiate engineering design of a single-lane, gated, emergency access-only bridge over the Clear Fork of the Trinity River.
BUSINESS DIVERSITY UPDATE
During its work session, the City Council on Feb. 6 heard a presentation on the Office of Business Diversity by Economic Development Director Robert Sturns.
“Our Office of Business Diversity has been looking at our overall goals and performance over the past year,” Sturns said. “While there have been some improvements, we are still facing some challenges in the areas of MBE [Minority Business Enterprise] capacity and inclusion. As such, we are in the process of upgrading our internal software systems to provide a better system of tracking compliance and having ongoing discussions with our internal and external stakeholders on how we can improve our policies going forward.”
Highlights of his presentation included noting that the OBD participated in 70 events and hosted 18 last year. It created and hosted monthly information vendor forums for Minority/Women Business Enterprises to help with a variety of topics, including identifying more MBEs to participate on city projects, sharing with M/WBEs coming projects and city requirements, ascertaining M/WBE challenges in bidding on city projects, and encouraging partnerships and joint ventures.
Fiscal year 2017 successes included:
• Designed training package on the BDE (Business Diversity Enterprise) ordinance for city project managers and anyone who executes city secretary contracts (three sessions held).
• Nominated for 2017 Pillar Award as Public Entity of the Year by the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association.
• Developed YouTube Video “Doing Business with the City of Fort Worth,” promoting the BDE Ordinance.
• Monthly direct marketing communication sent to more than 4,300 M/WBEs advertising coming events, bids and requests.
• Information Technology Department and OBD started efforts to transition from the current MWBE administration system to B2GNow software system, a new BDE tracking and reporting system.
Over a dozen new MBEs were added in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Also, contracts awarded in the fiscal year 2017 increased from 276 to 306. The amount of funds awarded was up from 22.06 percent to 22.7 percent.
Among the challenges ahead, Sturns identified:
• Current MBE administrator software system is outdated and inefficient.
• BDE office may have to generate quarterly reports manually until system data is verified and uploaded into the new B2GNow System.
• Coordinating with Enterprise Resource Planning to develop process to track under $50,000 expenditures.
• Cleanup of five-plus years of system data needed for the 2019-2020 Availability and Disparity Study is a manual process.
And, looking ahead, goals are:
• Implementation of B2GNow contract compliance system, projected to be fully functional by the summer.
• Expansion of outreach efforts to include Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in the monthly forums.
• Proposed BDE Ordinance online Employee University training module for project managers.
• Fiscal year 2019 Availability and Disparity Study, estimated cost $500,000.