Monday, December 15, 2014

Tacoma's Foss Waterway Development Authority vs. Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Authority Boondoggle

A couple days ago, whilst sorting through my YouTube videos looking for a video I made six years ago of a drive over Tacoma's Two Bridges Over Water, I came upon another video I made during that year's stay in Tacoma, a video of a walk around Tacoma's Thea Foss Waterway.

You can watch that video below, in which you will see a pair of Tacoma Link street cars, full of riders, crossing paths in Tacoma's Museum district, which is not called The Cultural District.

Those Tacoma Link street cars are free to ride from Tacoma's Intermodal Transport Center where you can hop a bus, train or streetcar, to go to all sorts of locations, after parking in a big parking garage, for free.

At the Tacoma Intermodal Transport Center you will also find Freighthouse Square, a Fort Worth Santa Fe Rail Market-like development on steroids, which has thrived for years, rather than die a quick death like Fort Worth's pitiful public market attempt.

Watching that video I made years ago, made well after the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle was well underway, with its slow motion construction, I was struck by the similarities between what Thea Foss Waterway has become and what the Trinity River Vision purports to want to be.

Both have bridges. That is the Thea Foss Waterway Bridge below, built across water in way shorter time than four years. The TRV Boondoggle currently has three simple bridges under construction, over dry land, with the water to be added later. Maybe. With these simple bridges slated to take four years to build.

Above you are looking at just a small section of the Thea Foss Waterway. What is called the Esplanade meanders along the waterway for about 1.5 miles. I believe that is about the length of the Fort Worth Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's imaginary promenade alongside its imaginary channel alongside its imaginary island.

Below is another look at the Thea Foss Waterway Esplanade. When I visited for a month in August of 2004 I had myself a mighty fine time roller blading on the Esplanade.

The Thea Foss Waterway Development is a mixed use type of deal. There is a large marina with boats of all sizes, restaurants, a big apartment complex, which you see part of on the left above, stores, parks, other amenities, including museums, some of which are accessed by crossing over a freeway spur via what is known as The Bridge of Glass.

Above you are looking at the broad stairway which leads to the aforementioned Bridge of Glass, where you will find an installation of Chihuly Glass worth millions. That cone shaped structure is part of the Museum of Glass.

Okay, now that I have given you some idea of what the Thea Foss Waterway is, let's talk about how this development came to be.

Historically the Thea Foss Waterway was an industrial zone. Those industries polluted the waterway. In 1983 the Environmental Protection Agency designated the waterway and Commencement Bay a Superfund cleanup site.

Tacoma city and business leaders then created the Foss Waterway Development Authority with its goal being the restoration of the waterway to being a dynamic part of Tacoma. From that point on the FWDA has set precedents in planning, engineering and development, in cooperation with regulatory agencies and the public.

In 2014 the result is a mixed use urban village combining housing, retail, restaurants, along with recreation amenities.

The Thea Foss Waterway is on ongoing development, growing and expanding.

So, how does Tacoma, a town a quarter the size of Fort Worth, population-wise, manage to pull of a massive public works project, successfully, including the building of bridges, water features, walkways, along with cleaning up a pollution mess, while Fort Worth dawdles along with an embarrassing boondoggle which had an explosive celebration celebrating the start of the four year construction of Three Bridges Over Nothing?

I think part of the explanation for the difference is in Tacoma adults are in charge. The executive director of the Foss Waterway Authority is not the unqualified son of a local congresswoman. The Foss Waterway Authority sets and meets clear goals with project timelines.

Fort Worth's Boondoggle has no actual goals or project timelines, unless one wants to count that four year goal to build three simple bridges over dry land.

Comparing the Foss Waterway Development Authority website with the Trinity River Vision Authority website is very revealing.

The Tacoma website it totally reality based, sharing information about projects already completed, or in progress. The Fort Worth website is mostly propaganda, sharing pseudo information about plans which have no plan or project timeline, such as the Gateway Park Master Plan.

The Fort Worth website does a lot of bragging about things they should be embarrassed about, such as their various "Products" and "Programs".  Products like ice rinks, drive-ins, breweries and wakeboard parks. Programs like Rockin' the River Inner Tube Floats and music festivals.

You will find no information on the Fort Worth website about project timelines. You will find a lot of propaganda puffery.

The Tacoma website has a page listing the Foss Waterway Development Authority's Completed Projects.

You will find no similar list on The Boondoggle's website.

The mission statement type blurbs on the two website's home pages are telling.

From the Thea Foss Waterway Development Authority website...

The Thea Foss Waterway is quickly becoming a popular place to live, work and play. Mountain views, marina access, walking distance to downtown Tacoma and nearby services make Foss Waterway an attractive master planned community. Development sites are available along the Foss Waterway, just 35 miles south of Seattle. The Foss Waterway Development Authority (FWDA) is the coordinating agency for the waterfront's development. We can be advocates for developers through our established relationships with regulatory agencies.

From the Trinity River Vision Authority website...

The Trinity River Vision Authority (TRVA) is the organization responsible for the implementation of the Trinity River Vision (TRV) - a master plan for the Trinity River in Fort Worth, Texas. It is underway now - connecting every neighborhood in the city to the Trinity River corridor with new recreational amenities, improved infrastructure, environmental enhancements and event programming. The TRV will create Panther Island (formerly Trinity Uptown), a vibrant urban waterfront neighborhood, expand Gateway Park into one of the largest urban-programmed parks in the nation and enhance the river corridor with over 90 user-requested projects along the Trinity Trails.
Every time I read the TRVB's propaganda about 90 imaginary user-requested projects I cringe. I tell you, the Fort Worth Boondogglers, led by J.D. Granger, have no shame, no matter how absurd the propaganda they spew.

A master plan to connect every neighborhood in the city to the river? Can we see that plan please?

The plan is underway? Really? Where can we check out the project timeline for that plan which is underway? Such a timeline does not exist on The Boondoggle's website.

And, before I shut up, I must add one important thing. The Boondoggle is not yet at the point, if it ever gets there, when pollution issues come up that need mitigating, such as Tacoma had to deal with. The area where The Boondoggle is boondoggling is an industrial wasteland. It is highly likely contamination is going to be encountered if digging into the ground ever actually takes place.

Does the EPA Superfund still exist? Methinks that may be the only federal money The Boondoggle may actually be able to get its hands on.....

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