Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Trinity River Vision Committee's Sane Correspondence About The Boondoggle

Friday night in my email inbox I found several PDFs, part of one you see screencapped on the left.

The PDFs were documents from Don Woodard's Committee of Correspondence, that being, according to several of the documents, a Committee with Malice Toward None, with Charity for All.

The subject that was being discussed in the documents is the extremely controversial Fort Worth pseudo public works project known at the Trinity River Panther Island Vision, or simply "The Boondoggle".

Reading through Don Woodard's words of wisdom regarding the forlorn TRPIVB, and the comments, got me thinking a thing or two.

First the thing or two I was thinking and then some of the comments.

One of the issues which vex a lot of people regarding this shady vision boondoggle is the fact that this public works project has never been voted on by the public, hence it is not funded fully, hence there is no project timeline, hence oddball things like building bridges to nowhere over an imaginary flood diversion channel.

I remember soon after my arrival in Texas, late in the last century, learning of the Dallas version of the Trinity River Vision. Soon thereafter I recollect being astonished by a HUGE headline in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram proclaiming "TRINITY UPTOWN TO TURN FORT WORTH INTO VANCOUVER OF THE SOUTH."

Being a Pacific Northwest boy who frequented Vancouver, when I lived in the vicinity, I was totally baffled.

As in what could Fort Worth possibly do that would be like anything in Vancouver? Build an amazing Chinatown, like Vancouver's? Build an amazing Skytrain like Vancouver's? Build an amazing downtown park like Vancouver's Stanley Park? I was totally bumpuzzled.

And then I read it was a version of Vancouver's False Creek development that Fort Worth was going to copy.

False Creek?

I remember trying to remember what False Creek was. Was that the area renovated by Expo 86? Or were we talking about Granville Island? I had no idea. I still don't.

The claim that this project was going to turn Fort Worth into the Vancouver of the South was quickly dropped. This was before I had learned to not trust what I read in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Well before the Star-Telegram claimed an ultra lame little food court type deal called the Santa Fe Rail Market was modeled after Seattle's Pike Place Market and public markets in Europe.

The Santa Fe Rail Market mistake quickly failed. I expected the Trinity Uptown/Trinity River Vision/Panther Island debacle to meet the same fate.

And yet this project to nowhere keeps on chugging along, with no end in sight and little to show for over a decade of looking for a vision.

This got me thinking of other public works projects that have come to be in the same time frame as Fort Worth's supposedly vitally important flood control project which seems to have the urgency of repairing a dripping faucet.

In 2010 construction began in the Grapevine zone of the D/FW Connector, an over $1 billion project which rebuilt the junction of several freeways. The project was open to traffic in 2014.

The Chisholm Trail Parkway began constructing a tollway from Fort Worth to Cleburne, also in 2010. That project cost $1.4 billion and also opened to traffic in 2014.

Part of the Dallas Trinity River Vision, an actual signature bridge called the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, began getting built in 2007, opened in 2012 and cost $93 million.

In Arlington the Dallas Cowboy Stadium destruction and construction got underway in 2006 and opened to football in 2009 at a cost of $1.1 billion.

And then we have the Trinity River Vision, now renamed the Panther Island Vision, rightly known by many as simply "The Boondoggle" never voted on by the public, not fully funded, no project timeline, foisted on the Fort Worth public on a bogus premise, that being that it was needed for flood control, to control floods where no flood has flooded for well over a half a century, due to massive levees built in the 1950s to contain a flood in the downtown Fort worth zone.

Very perplexing.

And now for some of the comments from the Committee of Correspondence.....

Don Woodard said--- From stealthy step to stealthy step the boondoggle's promoters have refused to put the issue to a public vote. Some in authority smile and say, "That ship has sailed!" What if the White Star owners of the unsinkable Titanic had called her back as she was clearing the port at South Hampton?

Which had Stan Hiett saying--- Call back the ship.

And Carl R. Sanders saying--- Don, you are right! It is time to blur the Trinity vision, turning it into a bad memory which came from a bad idea, promulgated by the Supreme Court which corrupted the Constitutional concept of eminent domain. It should be stopped, buried and smoothed over as well as we can, limiting our economic loss to a minimum.

While William Wright said--- There is little doubt in my mind that one of the principal beneficiaries has been and will be Kay Granger. She has already profited from campaign contributions to get this snowball rolling and by securing a sinecure for her son, who has scant qualifications to head an enterprise of this magnitude. Rest assured she will reap huge rewards for many years if she is successful in logrolling congress for the money to complete this behemoth.

Winston Barney opined--- The bright side for you and me is that we'll both be gone before it ever comes to fruition. As for my children, they don't live in Tarrant County. I firmly believe that the word "boondoggle" is far too inappropriate for this serious level of public deception. "Scam", "rip-off", "swindle", and "con" all seem more befitting.

Which had Mike Braun commenting--- Slick new bridges?!? It's all about Fort Worth keeping up with Dallas, don't you understand? I'm laughing out loud at this fantasy: " A higher and more constant water level would be created with a HYDRAULIC DAM at the north edge of the project and a 33-acre urban lake would be formed." You clodhoppers need to go and ask the city of Waco about its low-water dam fiasco on the Brazos River over the last three decades. NOTE: Hydraulics and a dirty river - whether it's the Brazos or the Trinity  - don't get along very well. And how 'bout this lie?  [The urban waterfront will generate] "more than $600 million in economic activity the first decade alone."  LIE, LIE, LIE. The so-called "economic activity" will demand and be rewarded by tax abatement's and refunds, decreasing the city's tax base again and again, which will require the net difference to be paid by the homeowner/taxpayer, 'cause we're the last line.

And finally, from Jack Raskopf,  regarding the civic efforts of Don Woodard--- Thanks so much Don, for all the good work you are doing on behalf of all of us. I wish your themes on these totally wasteful projects would be projected to every individual citizen-voter... and powerful enough to make them protest. I think you are making some headway. Enough? Who knows. Thanks again.

There you have it. How in the world does this bizarre boondoggle continue to boggle on with no adult intervention????

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