Saturday, September 20, 2014

Maybe Fort Worth Should Look At Mount Vernon's Skagit River Vision

If my memory is serving me correctly on several occasions I have blogged about Fort Worth area "Master Plans" which are sort of lacking, with no project timelines for what are basically imaginary "Master Plans" mastering nothing.

Such as the Trinity River Vision and the Boondoggle's Gateway Park Master Plan.

I also am fairly certain a time or two I have opined about being appalled at the ridiculous propaganda spewed about Fort Worth's imaginary plans, and the disconnect between the propaganda and what is actually is being built.

Today I was checking out the state of my old hometown of Mount Vernon's Skagit River Vision. Soon I was looking at the Mount Vernon equivalent of Trinity River Vision Boondoggle propaganda, with a clear difference.

The Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision, with details of its Master Plan being grounded in reality, are funded and are being constructed.

Below is Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision propaganda verbiage I gleaned from a Mount Vernon website. Make note of all the things happening in Mount Vernon, population of around 30,000, compared to what's actually happening in Fort Worth, population closer to a million than 30,000. Things like an actual flood protection project, which is actually needed to fix an actual problem. And more...

“Downtown Mount Vernon is the vibrant heart of Skagit County. It is a place where people come to live, work, and play, enjoying the riverfront promenade, boutique shopping, fine dining, and entertainment of all sorts. Its public spaces are enlivened by a farmer’s market and live music. People come for its fairs, festivals, and riverfront setting. They come back for its small town character and the ease with which they can park their car and walk wherever they want to go. Downtown Mount Vernon is thriving because it is where people want to be.”

That is the vision for Downtown Mount Vernon and the City is well on its way to making it happen.

The Opportunity

The future is now!  The City of Mount Vernon has adopted a Master Plan for the Waterfront and Historic Downtown Area that provides guidelines for development over the next 20 years and presents an economic development opportunity in Downtown Mount Vernon.

The Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan is designed to build on and enhance existing retail activity along First Street, and create a vibrant, attractive, and safe waterfront and downtown, with enhanced public access to the shoreline and river, new and improved public amenities, and mixed-use redevelopment that will generate new jobs and create housing that preserves the character of downtown Mount Vernon.

Location.  Location.  Location

Mount Vernon is located along the I-5 corridor, 60 miles north of Seattle and 80 miles south of Vancouver British Columbia.  Mount Vernon is unique as it is one of the only cities west of the Mississippi and north of San Francisco that within a 100 mile radius can draw from an estimated 6 million people.

Mount Vernon’s historic downtown is bounded to the east by Interstate 5, to the west the Skagit River, to the north Lion’s Park and to the south by Section Street. Mount Vernon is minutes away from the beautiful San Juan Islands to the west and the North Cascade Mountain Range and Mt. Baker to the east.  Mount Vernon is the County seat and has a strong presence of government employees within the downtown core.  

The City’s regional transit center, built in 2004 is a gateway project located at the front door step to downtown Mount Vernon along I-5.  Skagit Multi-Modal Station offers rail, bus, commuter and taxi service to the region.

The Skagit River, which is the only river that can boast salmon runs for five different species of salmon naturally, runs through downtown Mount Vernon offering a spectacular scenic amenity within downtown.  Principle economic activities include government, healthcare, retail and tourism.

The Master Plan takes advantage of Downtown’s assets and will achieve the following goals:

Provide permanent certified flood protection for downtown to make investing in downtown Mount Vernon economically viable.

Develop a pedestrian-oriented downtown where people are encouraged to circulate on foot.

Encourage a mixture of land uses, including public open space, shoreline recreational, cultural, and institutional uses integrated with revenue producing uses that may include office, retail, restaurant, hotel, entertainment, and residential uses.

Accommodate an overall increase in residential density to provide a greater level of around-the-clock activity, support existing businesses, and improve the general economic vitality of downtown.

Provide sufficient and conveniently located parking without compromising the overall pedestrian-friendly environment.

Accommodate vehicular circulation while providing pedestrian-friendly streets.

Preserve and build upon the existing historic character of downtown.

Provide more open space and public amenities downtown.

Encourage multi-modal transportation by developing improved connections across the river, to regional trails, and to Skagit Station.

The City is undertaking a major flood protection project that will result in 100-year flood protection for downtown Mount Vernon.  In addition to the flood control measure, the City has designed and will construct a 25 foot wide, ½ mile long riverfront walk and public park along the Skagit River.

The flood protection measure is designed to protect the downtown area from flooding and remove the downtown from the FEMA 100-year flood plain designation. The flood protection measure is designed with removable sections that will be used only during flood events, therefore views and access to the river will not be encumbered.

Does the Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision remind you at all of Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision?


Me either.

Key difference is the fact that the Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision is well underway to being seen. While the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle is currently building, maybe, Three Bridges Over Nothing, while, after over a decade of boondoggling, what has actually been created are things like an imaginary island with an imaginary pavilion, a brewery, drive-in movie theater, a wakeboard lake and happy hour inner tube floats where a polluted river gets rocked with beer.

The Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision addresses a real flood control issue.

Trust me, the Skagit River in flood mode is very real. I have seen what happens in downtown Mount Vernon when the Skagit River goes into rampaging flood mode. Twice I have helped sandbag a floodwall to save downtown Mount Vernon.

I have seen the Trinity River in flood mode several times since I have been in Texas. I have never seen those floods even remotely endanger downtown Fort Worth in the way I have seen the Skagit River threaten downtown Mount Vernon.

Hence one of the reasons I refer to the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's flood diversion channel as being un-needed, because it is un-needed, wasting resources to build an un-needed thing, if it ever actually does get built, under those Three Bridges Over Nothing....

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