Downtown Fort Worth RV Park Serves Unique Niche
Tucked behind a steel fence and shaded by big pecan trees, a tiny campground shares a neighborhood with the hottest entertainment district in Fort Worth, Texas.
For 15 years, Fort Worth Midtown RV Park at 2906 W. Sixth St. has been a temporary home for visitors traveling in $1 million RVs or just pitching a tent, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.
Opera singers, pro golfers, Stock Show vendors, cowboys, parents visiting the kids, festival artists — even an occasional group of Australian women who need a safe spot to camp stop and stay awhile.
“We get all kinds,” said Nancy Nicholson, a gregarious 71-year-old from the Chicago area, who originally came for a short stay when her husband, Tom, 80, had a local consulting job. Twelve years later, they’re still living here in a 39-foot motorhome while she manages the park for owners Bob and Beverly Robertson.
Nestled between a camera shop and a dentist’s office, the 17-unit campground is within a stone’s throw of the bustling West Seventh Street corridor and within easy distance of downtown, the Will Rogers Memorial Center and the city’s hospital district.
But it wasn’t so uptown in 1995 when the Robertsons bought the five blighted city lots that featured condemned homes and a “drive-thru crack house,” said Bob Robertson, 59.
The couple hatched the park idea when they were traveling in their RV and Beverly Robertson, now 58, had a medical emergency that landed her for an extended stay in an Erie, Pa., hospital. Bob had to shuttle back and forth to an RV park 27 miles away.
After recovering, she realized that the same problem faced families of out-of-town patients staying in Fort Worth hospitals.
But it took eight months of wrangling to get officials to recognize the niche.
“They kept saying ‘trailer park’ and I kept saying ‘motorhome,'” Beverly Robertson said. “There wasn’t even a code for an RV park. But they finally understood and rewrote the code for us.”
The couple has a “soft spot for hospital people,” so they give them discounts and allow them to stay beyond the usual two-month limit, she said.
That consideration has been a “blessing” for Jodi Kidd of Abilene.
She’s been at the park for five months with her son, Tim Kidd, and his wife, Suzanna, of Wichita Falls, while the couple’s infant son, Grady, has been in local hospitals.
“There’s a home environment here. The people here have even gotten involved in Grady’s progress. They are almost family,” Jodi Kidd said.
Most travelers stay about five days. The campground’s business centers around events at the Will Rogers complex, Bob Robertson said.
But the park is a mini-barometer of what’s happening in Fort Worth.
“Stock shows, rodeos, art festivals, car races, TCU games, golf tournaments, you name it,” Nicholson said. “And when there’s a disaster, we get insurance adjusters. We even had an opera singer who stayed for a week in a tiny tent.”
Martha Cervenka of Austin parks her RV here when she’s visiting her son.
“It’s cool because it’s so close to everything and Nancy is a scream. It’s clean, peaceful and friendly,” she said.
But the welcome mat’s not rolled out for just anybody.
“We’re real firm about who we let stay,” Beverly Robertson said. “We get a lot of sick people and they need their rest.”
Nicholson keeps that rule right out front.
“We know who has a tendency to be rowdy — guys who work outside in the cold and the rain,” she said. “They just have to have a drink after they get off.
“The cowboys also have a tendency to get out of line. They get loud. And they have big voices.
“And when I have a 21-year-old whippersnapper standing in front of me, I warn them they can’t carry on or I will throw their ass out of here. I don’t put up with it. I tell people I’m not their damn mother.”
The explosion of development in the area has made the park more convenient for guests, but the nightlife has raised the decibel level. In the past year, a Movie Tavern and several restaurants and bars have opened in the West Seventh project just south of the park, measurably increasing traffic at night and on weekends.
“All these hipsters are about to drive me to drink,” Nicholson said.
Beverly Robertson has even marched over to a bar in her pajamas to ask for some peace.
“When we started this place ,we never believed this would happen around us,” she said.
But the same holds true for the little campground in the city.
“People are always amazed; they’ll pull up and say they can’t believe we are here,” Nicholson said.