The past few years have been unforgiving for Panther Island, the $1.17 billion flood control project and upscale development headed by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD). Construction has crept along, and one of three Panther Island bridges is now slated to open by year’s end. The federal funds — $526 million authorized by U.S. Congress in 2016 — promised by project cheerleader U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger have not materialized. Year after year, Congress has not prioritized the project in the federal budget.
The five-member TRWD board is preparing to overhaul its general ordinance (which regulates land and water under TRWD’s control) and commercial facilities ordinance (which sets guidelines and standards for facilities on TRWD property). The proposed changes mark the second time the guiding documents have been revised since 2002 and could point toward shifts in strategic thinking vis-a-vis Panther Island.
The most significant changes to the 126-page document are increased powers for the general manager, James Oliver, that would allow him to create and collect fees and handle the approval of construction projects on TRWD property. Greater flexibility to revise existing ordinances is also proposed.
“The general manager of the district may, from time to time, adopt or amend any rules, codes, policies, or other standards governing” the construction or maintenance of properties or facilities located on or under TRWD land or water, one new addition reads.
If the new changes allow TRWD to salvage some version of the expansive Northside project without incurring massive debt, we’re all for it — as long as those steps are planned and completed in a transparent manner. The TRWD board is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes at their Tue, Sep 15, board meeting.
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