Friday, October 7, 2016

Rerouting Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Propaganda To The Truth

With disturbing regularity a ridiculous propaganda puff piece pops up in an obscure publication touting an alternative universe version of what is known as the Trinity River Uptown Central City Panther Island District Vision.

Or America's Biggest Boondoggle.

This time the propaganda puff piece was in something called Urban Land Magazine in an article titled Rerouting the Trinity River.

After reading the article astute Fort Worth observer, Mr. Spiffy, observed this magazine should be called Urban Myth Magazine.

This article has multiple quotes from J.D. Granger, which always guarantees a high nonsense level.

Let's start at the start of this article and opine as we go along.

The first paragraph...

In an industrial area north of downtown Fort Worth, three bridges are under construction that, at least for now, serve little purpose. The bridges are going up over dry land in anticipation that they will someday span a 1.8-mile (3 km) channel off the Trinity River, part of an ambitious 13-year-old plan to transform the heart of the Texas city. The channel, which has not yet been dredged and still awaits federal funding, is the centerpiece of the $900 million development that combines flood control with the city’s dreams of creating a new urban district.

Three bridges are under construction? Construction has been stalled on the only one of the bridges under any sort of construction, with that stall now lasting over half a year, supposedly due to design errors.

Ambitious 13 year old plan? Really? Ambitious? As in ambitious in slow motion?

The un-funded un-dredged channel is the center piece of this development? So, you have an unfunded centerpiece, but go ahead and build some bridges over the unfunded centerpiece, in case the ditch ever does get dredged?

Next up the first of the embarrassing nonsensical J.D. Granger quotes...

“There’s not another city in North America that has this type of phase two opportunity in one swipe,” says J.D. Granger, the executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority (TRVA), which is overseeing the project. “It’s a blank slate.”

I have no idea what the above Granger gibberish means. A "type of phase two opportunity in one swipe"? What does that mean?  The project is a "blank slate"?  After 13 years this project is a blank slate? As for no other city in North America having a project such as this in the works, well, that is true. Fort Worth is the location of America's Biggest Boondoggle. No other town in America tops Fort Worth in the Boondoggle department for this type of project.

Skipping forward a paragraph or two...

The a-ha moment came with the radical proposal to dig the channel to address the city’s flooding problems, introduced by Vancouver-based architect Bing Thom. The channel would allow removal of the tall levees lining the river and create an opportunity for the city to reconnect with the river. Instead of fighting the course of the river, the system will let the water go where it wants to go, Thom says. “What nature wants to do is take the straightest line,” he says.

A previous paragraph informs us that there was a big discussion among Fort Worth's city representatives as to what to do about the river, with nothing off the table, advised to think outside the box, look for big ideas, and new approaches, to think creatively about how the river relates to the city.

All this creative out of the box thinking then led to that a-ha moment, with a radical proposal to dig a ditch to address the city's flooding problems.

Why did that out of the box thinking  not lead to a radical proposal to clean up the dangerously polluted river?

Dig a ditch to address the city's flooding problems? The city has had no flooding problem for well over half a century, ever since the Army Corps of Engineers built levees which have contained the Trinity River when it is in flood mode. However, there are other towns in the Fort Worth area, such as Haltom City, which have had bad flooding problems, this century, deadly flooding problems.

Deadly, un-addressed, un-fixed flooding problems.

The next paragraph with a similar nonsensical point....

The ability to redevelop the area was simply a bonus. A neglected industrial area suddenly became a potential urban center. “Using flood control as a catalyst for economic development became the driving idea,” Costa says.

Again with the claim that this Boondoggle has to do with flood control.  Like I already said, the area being damaged by this ill-conceived project has not been flooded for well over half a century, because it is already protected from floods.

The next paragraph contains a super gem of propaganda nonsense...

Thom was hired to create the master plan, which was approved in 2003 by the Fort Worth City Council and various local authorities and agencies, including Tarrant County and Streams and Valleys, a nonprofit group focused on preserving the river. The flood control plan made an ally of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was in charge of the levee system. But making the plan a reality required the backing of a dizzying array of local, state, and federal agencies, including local environmentalists. More than 200 public meetings were held, focusing on everything from hiking trails to transportation systems.

Flood control plan? Where there has been no flood for over a half a century? More than 200 public meetings were held, focusing on everything? Really? I know no one who attended one of these likely imaginary more than 200 public meetings. I have been to a public meeting or two, post the beginning of The Boondoggle, public meetings trying to fix what was obvious to many was slated to become a Boondoggle disaster.

And then this eye roller from the woman who gave the world J.D.....

“Bringing people together took an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and communication,” says U.S. Representative Kay Granger, a former mayor of Fort Worth (and J.D. Granger’s mother.) “We always felt that to do the things we wanted to do, everyone had to buy in.”

Oh the hubris, the irony, the willful mindlessness. “We always felt that to do the things we wanted to do, everyone had to buy in.”

Everyone had to buy in? Who is everyone? Investors who stood to benefit from this development scheme? Buy in? The public was certainly not part of the buying in, because the Fort Worth  public has never been allowed to vote on this public works project which greatly impacts their town.

How does that sound to you reading this in democratic parts of America? In Fort Worth eminent domain has been abused to take property for a public works project the public has never voted on.

More nonsense in the following paragraph,...

The planning group took several trips to Vancouver, Thom’s base, to get a sense of the Canadian city’s approach to urban growth. Among other examples, he wanted to show them how to handle the connection to the waterfront—the idea “that the water’s edge should always be public,” he says. “There is a very subtle dimension between the public realm and private realm.”

I remember years ago, on a Sunday morning, opening the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to see a screaming headline in BIG letters proclaiming 'TRINITY UPTOWN TO TURN FORT WORTH INTO VANCOUVER OF THE SOUTH'. I remember reading that and thinking what absurdist ridiculousness is this? I was already attuned to the Star-Telegram's tendency to hyperbolize. Like when the Star-Telegram told its readers a lame little food court like thing was the first public market in Texas, modeled after public markets in Europe and Seattle's Pike Place. When I saw how lame the Santa Fe Rail Market was this was the point I realized one can not trust what one reads in the Star-Telegram.

The Boondoggle  planning group took several trips to Vancouver to check out how that town dealt with urban growth and handled its connection to the waterfront? I remember when I read that Star-Telegram headline about Fort Worth turning into the Vancouver of the South thinking to myself have any of these idiots actually been to Vancouver? Vancouver and  Fort Worth have absolutely ZERO in common. Vancouver's waterfront is marine waterfront, as in saltwater inlets and bays connected to the Pacific Ocean. Water on which big boats, like freighters, cruise ships and ferry boats float. Vancouver has a big river flowing through the south part of town, the Fraser. Unlike the Trinity, an unpolluted river.

An all powerful God working miracles could not turn Fort Worth into the Vancouver of the South.

Two more paragraphs, the second of which contains another J.D. Granger gem....

While the different elements progress, a large part of the TRVA’s effort has focused on activating the river—getting it on the radar of a community that saw it as an industrial wasteland. That included resurrecting the image of the river. Parks and new projects have gone in around sections of the river in recent years, but many people remain wary of the brownish, clay-bottom waterway.

“It’s a problem for us,” J.D. Granger says. “We need to educate people about the desirability of living on the river.”

Yeah, imagine that, many people remain wary of a waterway which appears to be anything but clean. But, J.D. Granger has a solution. The people need to be educated about how desirable it is to live on the river.

I am not quite sure if J.D. literally means "live on the river" or what. However, the most recent iteration of the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision has added two new islands, the West Island and the East Island.

And a Houseboat District,

Maybe that is where J.D. means people need to be educated as to being a desirable place to live. In a houseboat, on a dangerously polluted river.

And then we learn some of what J.D. has done to get people getting used to being close to the e.coli infested river...

To make that happen, TRVA has staged a variety of events, including Rockin’ the River, free waterside concerts that encourage people to watch the performances while floating on inner tubes. A paddle sports rental shop has also opened. The goal is increasing direct experience with the water. “You can’t just tell people the water is fine,” J.D. Granger says.

For once true words from J.D., as in you can not just tell people the water is fine. Because the water is not fine you have now been forced to regularly test the water due to multiple instances of elevated to a dangerous level of e.coli, and other contaminants. How many of this past summer's Rockin' the River inner tube floats had to be cancelled due to too much e.coli?

I think I have already said, way too much hubris, way too much stupidity. But it bears repeating.

And then we learn of other wonders brought by The Boondoggle to get the public on board with it....

To help bring people to the area, TRVA has opened a drive-in theater, an ice skating rink, and a waterfront music pavilion where more than 40 events a year are held. In 2014, a brewery opened on what will be Panther Island. And the project is already having a larger impact on the river. Upgrades are moving forward on Gateway Park, a 1,000-acre (405 ha) greenbelt on the water’s edge, which is also a component of the TRVA’s project scope, and in 2009 the Tarrant County Community College opened a campus overlooking the river.

To bring people to the area? Why was it a thing to bring people to that area? To do so the TRVA opened the first drive-in movie theater of the 21st century? And thought this was a good idea? An ice skating rink? There is no pavilion in the area called Panther Island Pavilion. Not by any normal definition of the pavilion word. This waterfront music venue is where The Boondoggle encourages locals to float on inner tubes in the polluted river.

The project is having an impact on the river? Really? How? Is the river cleaner? An impact because Tarrant County Community College opened a campus overlooking The Boondoggle?

Uh, that campus was a boondoggle all on its own. Never completed as planned, Huge budget over runs. And then, to finally open a new campus, rather than complete the original campus, the Radio Shack Corporate Headquarters, which is another infamous Fort Worth boondoggle, was bought and retro-fitted as a college.

And now, before we get to the final J.D. Granger embarrassment, what may be the most misleading propaganda in this article...

Rival Dallas has been struggling for years to implement far-ranging improvements to its stretch of the Trinity, with little success, supporters of the Fort Worth project note. Fort Worth’s approach was unorthodox, but it will eventually produce results, they say.

Rival Dallas has had little success with its Trinity River Vision? Read the Wikipedia Trinity River Project about the Dallas vision. First off, the Fort Worth Trinity River Vision did not come about after some sort of a-ha moment which lead to America's Biggest Boondoggle. The Fort Worth Vision came about because of Fort Worth's civic inferiority complex developed over decades of living in the Dallas shadow.

In 1998, five years before Fort Worth started up its Boondoggle, Dallas voters, I repeat, Dallas voters, approved a bond proposal to fund a cleanup of the river, new park facilities, wildlife habitats, build a couple lakes, and in addition to other elements build three signature bridges over the Trinity River.

In common with Fort Worth's Boondoggle, progress on the Dallas Trinity Project has gone slow,  and has had funding problems.

When the Fort Worth Trinity River Vision was announced three signature bridges were also part of the plan, yet one more instance of copying the Dallas plan.

However, one of the Dallas signature bridges, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge has been built, over water, with a second signature bridge almost completed. Fort Worth had to scale back its bridges from being signature bridges designed by a renowned bridge designer, like well regarded Santiago Calatrava, who designed the Dallas bridges. The design for the three Fort Worth bridges ended up being extremely ordinary, totally non-signature, though The Boondoggle still describes their bridges as being signature bridges.

And unlike the Dallas bridges, not only have none of the Fort Worth bridges, over dry land, been completed, the only one under construction has been stalled for over a half a year.

Tell me again how the Dallas Trinity Project has had little success compared to Fort Worth's Boondoggle?

The Dallas Trinity Project has also opened the Trinity River Audubon Center, along with trails and parks.

Another element the Fort Worth copycat vision copied from the Dallas vision was including residential developments, office buildings, retail stores and restaurants.

Is Trinity Grove, and all its restaurants, part of the Dallas Trinity River Vision? I don't know. But I do know that Trinity Grove is right by the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

And now the final paragraph with some final words from J.D. Granger...

“Frankly, looking back, I don’t think it could have been done any other way,” J.D. Granger says. “We could have done it faster and cheaper, but the project would not be as good as it is today.” The majority of the infrastructure work should be completed by 2023, if all goes according to plan. “We couldn’t speed up the process, even if we wanted,” he says.

Really? J.D. thinks they could have done this project faster and cheaper. But, had they done so it would not be as good as it is today? Most of the infrastructure work will be completed by 2023? The process could not have been sped up, even if they wanted to?

Previously The Boondoggle propaganda had this vitally needed flood control and economic development scheme completed by 2023. Now it's the infrastructure being mostly completed by that date?

Looking back this project could not have been  done any other way? How about approved for by the voting public, fully funded, with a real project engineer overseeing the project who knows how to get a project completed in a timely fashion?

Most infrastructure work will be done by 2023, if all goes according to plan? Does J.D. mean, unless little glitches happen, like bridge design errors causing a construction halt?

How did design errors occur with the design of Fort Worth's simple little bridges? While the first of the Dallas bridges, an actual complex engineering feat, has been completed and carrying traffic for several years. That, and adding an impressive element to the Dallas skyline.

How much has been added to the cost of the Fort Worth Boondoggle having the project limp along in slow motion for years longer than such a project would take in modern American towns? How many millions of extra dollars have been paid to the TRVA employees, such as J.D., than would have been paid if the project were completed with those who completed the project having moved on to new projects?

How much money was wasted on all those junkets to Vancouver, and other towns, to check out their waterfront projects?

How much money has The Boondoggle spent on all its propaganda publications and signage?

Shouldn't The Boondoggle budget be transparent and readily available information?

If The Boondoggle propaganda is now claiming if all goes well most of the infrastructure will be completed by 2023, when will the entire actual vitally needed flood control and economic development project going to be actually completed?

And if this actually were a vitally needed flood control project, why is it being built at a record breaking slow pace?

If I have said it once I have said it more than once, so much hubris, so much stupidity. The people of Fort Worth deserve better. America deserves better. Federal funds should never have been sent to this mis-managed project....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How much $ was the water flow model they built in Vancouver? That was a big junket for the swells.
How much has been spent on property acquisitions compared to what the project originally estimated.
And yes, the salaries keep a goin'. Most of those mom and son Granger quotes are just so much manure.
This blog post should be widely published.