Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Yesterday's TRWD Board Meeting Caused Me To Learn How San Antonio's Riverwalk Was Born

Yesterday I was peacefully minding my own business when I got a text message telling me that the text messenger was getting reports about nonsense being spewed at yesterday's Tarrant Regional Water District board meeting.

Apparently one of the bits of nonsense had one of the TRWD perps claiming that the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle is all about flood control, nothing to do with economic development.

I then went to the TRWD website and found the video of yesterday's meeting. These are long meetings. I skipped around in the meeting. I don't have the patience or fortitude to listen to such a thing in its entirety.

At one point I came to a moment in the meeting where Mary Kelleher seemed to be raising this issue of the millions of dollars being spent on The Boondoggle. The discussion seemed to me to turn all sorts of sideways. I heard one voice making some claim about the TRV's funding mechanism generating funds in excess of projections and that in the end it would not cost the taxpayers anything.

I may have misunderstood, which may be why what I was hearing sounded like nonsense to me.

Someone spewed verbiage about the extensive studying that went on before the decision was made to build a flood diversion channel and to take down the levees which have protected central Fort Worth from flooding for over a half a century.

It was at that part of the discussion when mention was made of the fact that The Boondogglers had visited Vancouver, Portland and San Antonio to look at what those towns did with their rivers.

That then turned into a semi-long soliloquy about San Antonio's Riverwalk and how that came about as a flood control project.

I thought San Antonio's Riverwalk came about as part of the 1968 San Antonio World's Fair. I soon found out I was wrong about how the Riverwalk came to be. Finding out how and when the San Antonio Riverwalk came to be turned out to be very interesting.

And quite a contrast with how Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle came to be.

From the Wikipedia San Antonio Riverwalk article I learned....

In September 1921, a disastrous flood along the San Antonio River took 50 lives. Plans were then developed for flood control of the river. Among the plans was to build an upstream dam (Olmos Dam) and bypass a prominent bend of the river in the Downtown area (between present day Houston Street and Villita Parkway), then to pave over the bend, and create a storm sewer.

Work began on the Olmos Dam and bypass channel in 1926; however, the San Antonio Conservation Society successfully protested the paved sewer option. No major plans came into play until 1929, when San Antonio native and architect Robert Hugman submitted his plans for what would become the River Walk. Although many have been involved in development of the site, the leadership of former mayor Jack White was instrumental in passage of a bond issue that raised funds to empower the 1938 “San Antonio River Beautification Project”, which began the evolution of the site into the present 2.5-mile-long River Walk.

So both the San Antonio and Fort Worth river visions had their origins in flood concerns. Both involve a bypass channel. But that is about where the similarities end.

Way back in 1938 San Antonio was a city progressive enough that the town's mayor led an effort to have the public vote to pass a bond issue to fund what became known as the San Antonio River Beautification Project.

I would hazard to guess that no local San Antonio Congresswoman's son was hired to be the executive director of San Antonio's River Beautification Project.

I would also hazard to guess that the San Antonio River Beautification Project progressed rapidly, with the voters soon seeing the results of that for which voted, thus causing a steam roll of following improvements to the San Antonio Riverwalk, which continue to our current era, with San Antonio's Riverwalk now an iconic tourist attraction known the world over.

And all this was done, in San Antonio, without building, in slow motion, Three Bridges Over Nothing, connecting to an imaginary island.....

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