Monday, June 21, 2010

Is Mitch Schnurman turning tide on TRV?

We aren't going to comment too much on this as several of our contributors are writing Letters to the Editor.  We'll post those as soon as we have them as well.  YOU NEED to read the article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Don't miss the comments from THE PEOPLE.  WHO's listening?

The water board has become the ultimate can-do agency, because it's empowered by a gusher of gas revenue from the Barnett Shale. The water district has $160 million in surplus funds from its mineral rights and forecasts $30 million more in annual royalties for the next five years or so.

More than a decade ago, the water district threw its weight behind the TRV, an epic project that aims to reroute the Trinity, provide flood control and turn a depressed area into a vibrant collection of new residents and waterfront properties.

But it bets heavily on private companies creating dozens of acres of dense development, an idea that sounds like something from an earlier go-go era. In this climate, it's good to know that the key funding mechanism is in place for 40 years, if necessary.

Local government will provide almost half the costs, with the Army Corps of Engineers and federal sources filling in the rest. Naysayers have long predicted that the TRV will grind to a halt, but the water district is proving to be a creative backstop.

It puts roughly half the land in the central city project under the control of two public entities, the water district and Tarrant County College.

"If we didn't have the gas money, this probably wouldn't happen," says Vic Henderson, president of the water board.

A project as large as the TRV needs more than a champion. It needs a rich uncle.

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