An Open Letter to Mayor Price and Councilman Shingleton

Mayor Betsy Price
1000 Throckmorton
Fort Worth, Texas 76102

Councilman Dennis Shingleton
1000 Throckmorton
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
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Mayor Betsy Price and Councilman Dennis Shingleton,

The reclamation of Marion Sansom Park (MSP) and development and maintenance of the MSP mountain bike trails by the Fort Worth Mountain Bikers’ Association (FWMBA) was and is a Herculean effort. What can be taken easily for granted is the effort that went into planning the project in a professional manner. Everyone here should understand that. For every hour that a group of volunteers spent working on the MSP mountain bike trails just as many hours were invested by a few FWMBA officers and trail stewards planning the project. The nearly $300,000 worth of FWMBA volunteer labor dedicated to the City of Fort Worth parks to date has been documented, logged and turned over to the City of Fort Worth. What hasn’t been documented is thousands of hours the FWMBA officers and trail stewards have dedicated to our mission to better Fort Worth parks.

FWMBA has done an exemplary job to present our club as a professionally run association dedicated to building, maintaining and operating singletrack, mountain bike trails. It was with this spirit that FWMBA became a stakeholder in the Lake Worth Vision Plan. A vision that would ultimately see the construction of a hike/bike trail extending into Marion Sansom Park from Cahoba Road to join up with the northern limits of the Trinity Trail. FWMBA understood the impact that such a trail would have on the park and ultimately the mountain bike trails.

FWMBA is intimately familiar with the lay of the land inside Marion Sansom Park due to the nature of the topography. As a result, FWMBA developed and submitted to the Lake Worth Vision Planning committee, P&CS’s and the City of Fort Worth planning department an exhibit endorsing a northern route of the proposed hike/bike trail into and through Marion Sansom Park. It is the opinion of FWMBA that this alignment affects the MSP landscape the least. This alignment provided by FWMBA also utilizes the existing parking facilities that would serve a new hike/bike trail. Furthermore, this northern route would be the least costly to construct, highlight the fantastic western horizon landscapes that MSP is famous for and would reward FWMBA for all of its hard work to reclaim the park from its dismal past.

FWMBA also understands that a Trinity Trail-type hike/bike trail with its wide corridor near the eastern shores of Lake Worth and along the east bank of the Trinity River inside MSP would be the worst option. The impact to the park would be dramatic, to say the least. A hike/bike trail of this nature (near the lake and river) would be fraught with all sorts of engineering challenges; least of which is the affect it would have to the Lake Worth dam and spillway. A hike/bike trail near the lake and river would also be far away from the existing MSP parking facilities near Roberts Cut-Off. As a result there would be an increase in “outlaw” or “bandit” type trails from the parking areas to the proposed hike/bike trail 200’ vertical feet below Roberts Cut-Off. Poaching of wildlife, already a problem at MSP would increase. Add in the impact of bench cut excavation and deforestation of the park and all of the erosion and sediment runoff into Lake Worth caused by a hike/bike trail corridor of this width, the numerous storm drain infrastructure requirements needed and the copious amount of elevation change along the lake shore a Trinity Trail-type hike/bike trail would be the worst option.

The pros and cons of either hike/bike trail alignment option are evident. After all, FWMBA has been involved in the process all along for many years acting in good faith with the City to find a solution to this challenge. That is until City staffers failed to inform FWMBA of survey operations inside MSP dedicated to “the initial field exploration which will generate a topography survey that will enable us to further assess the feasibility of a southern oriented trail alignment along the river”. This decision by the City was unilateral and without consultation of FWMBA. It wasn’t until FWMBA trail stewards discovered city contracted survey crews inside MSP on Thursday, March 13, 2014 that our club had any knowledge that a “southern oriented trail alignment along the river” was being investigated.

The Fort Worth Mountain Bikers’ Association members, its executive board and trail stewards are very disappointed in this news of a potential to develop a hike/bike trail along a southern oriented trail alignment along the river inside MSP. Furthermore, FWMBA is disappointed in the lack of professionalism by your staff, specifically Parks and Community Services in the handling of this news. It is a sad commentary that FWMBA had to find out from a third party inside MSP rather than your office that there is a potential of FWMBA losing all that they have built inside MSP.

The City’s first salvo in this debate was to ignore FWMBA and move forward with their investigation without the input of the very organization who has contributed the most to Marion Sansom Park. Mayor Price and Councilman Shingleton, FWMBA is asking for your help see that the ultimate decision on where the new hike/bike trail alignment is to be located inside MSP is with the citizens of Fort Worth and the volunteers of FWMBA who reclaimed the park.

The exhibits below exemplify FWMBA’s willingness to share Marion Sansom Park with everyone. These exhibits were created with great effort, close examination of the MSP environment and, like all of FWMBA’s work, at no expense to the taxpayers!

This exhibit above highlights the 647 acres of Marion Sansom Park. The major landscape features are the 214 feet of elevation, the Trinity River, the Lake Worth dam and spillway, Cahoba Road and Roberts Cut-Off

This exhibit above highlights Marion Sansom Park facts.

This exhibit above highlights Marion Sansom Park with its 11-mile network of mountain bike trails and a cumulative elevation gain of over 2,500 feet.

This exhibit above highlights the percentage of grade inside Marion Sansom Park. The color red along the shoreline of Lake Worth represents grades between 20% and 100%. In order to connect any proposed trail alignment to Cahoba Road to the east bank of the Trinity River it would have to traverse this area. The area west of the Lake Worth dam would be impossible to traverse with a Trinity Trail-like corridor without significant excavation and deforestation of Marion Sansom Park. FWMBA has submitted an official public information request from the City and their contracted consultant, Freese and Nichols for the data necessary to highlight where their proposed trail alignment would be located.

This exhibit above highlights the bold magenta line representing the Lake Worth Trail alignment endorsed by the Fort Worth Mountain Bikers’ Association.
From west to east . . . .
– The proposed trail alignment would run parallel to the Cahoba Road grade. By doing so the trail would meet ADA accessibility requirements the whole length of the trail, provide access to the trail by maintenance crews and utilize an already existing corridor.
– From Cahoba Road and running parallel to Robert’s Cut-Off the proposed alignment would follow an elevation of 799 feet above sea level.
– The proposed trail alignment would also be served by 4 existing parking lots totally over 350 parking spaces, be accessible from Robert’s Cut-Off and the newly remodeled Inspiration Point scenic overlook.
– The FWMBA endorse trail would then traverse to the south and west linking up with the Trinity Trail off-site of this exhibit.

Lawrence Colvin – President
Fort Worth Mountain Bikers’ Association (FWMBA)
FWMBA is an all-volunteer, 501c3, non-profit mountain bike association