The Trinity River Vision project made its way into Fort Worth’s mayoral race during a forum Monday night at Texas Christian University.
Moderators for the event, independent consultant Estrus Tucker and WFAA senior reporter Jason Whitely, asked the candidates their opinion of the $1.17 billion Panther Island project that will see the creation of several flood control areas as well as areas for economic development on the city’s Northside. The project has been beset with delays and questions regarding when – and if – the rest of the federal funding will appear. A 90-day review of the project has just started.
Deborah Peoples said: “Here’s the deal. Your guess about what that thing is really going to do is as good as mine.”
She said officials have not been transparent enough to give a full accounting of the project. “I’ve told people If it is a flood control measure I’m all for it. If It’s setting up another entertainment district that’s going to make developers rich and people with a lot of disposable income,” she is against it, she said.
“The bottom line is that until the media exposed Panther Island, our mayor and members on that board sat here silently and didn’t let citizens know what is going on,” she said. Peoples said citizens don’t deserve a programmatic review, but an in-depth review.
Incumbent Mayor Betsy Price said that when she went to Washington, D.C., in October and learned there would be no funds in the next year or two for the project, she came back and called for a review. “This is an incredibly extensive review – top to bottom. We will have the results back in 90 days. It will look into flooding, funding, who owns the land, what private partners can be brought to the table to help with this and where the city dollars have been invested. I believe it is going to be a very different view. [The project] may not be delivered exactly as planned, but it will be a plus for everyone in the city, particularly the flood control piece.”
Challenger James McBride said, “As far as the flood control piece, I don’t see it.”