Fort Worth to expand future Rock Creek Ranch Park with $3 million land purchase

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The Fort Worth City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to expand the future Rock Creek Ranch Park, which is slated to be developed south of Benbrook Lake in southwest Fort Worth.

If approved, the city would pay $3 million for roughly 22 acres belonging to the estate of John Lewis Merrill, a rancher and former head of TCU’s ranch management program.

The proposal also includes a resolution to honor Merrill for his work conserving Texas’ ranch lands and preserving wildlife.

Merrill helped found the nonprofit Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, which eventually became the National Grazing Land Coalition. The group promotes ecologically sound land management practices to help ranchers turn a profit while preserving their pastures.

The 22 acres sit just west of the intersection of the Chisholm Trail Parkway and Crowley Plover Road. It would expand the future Rock Creek Ranch park to be just under 300 acres, or about a third the size of New York’s Central Park.

The vote comes six months after the city paid $6.75 million for 275 acres that will make up the bulk of the park.

The $3 million price tag for the smaller 22 acre plot came from an appraisal of the property, said Sandra Youngblood, assistant director of the city’s parks department.

The land includes Merrill’s former home. The city will spend $65,000 to assess whether its feasible to preserve or demolish.

Development of the park isn’t expected until after 2026 when the city is expected put forth a bond initiative to fund the park’s construction.

In the meantime, the parks department is developing its master plan for the future Rock Creek Ranch park, and will seek suggestions from the public sometime in 2024, according to Youngblood.

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