Although the city council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee didn't vote on a plan to transform Riverfront Boulevard into a not-really-a-"complete street," committee members voiced support of the $54.5 million project, with chair Dave Neumann describing this morning's briefing as "very energizing." However, Carolyn Davis questioned why renderings presented by city staff contained inaccurate information, and Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway used the meeting as a platform to request a similar revitalization effort near the unnamed Cedar Crest Boulevard bridge.
Davis requested more details in future presentations, stressing that she doesn't like "the bits and pieces" that have been provided by city staff in the past and pressing assistant city manager Jill Jordan to "tell it like it is."
"It's like we're pushing to get the questions answered," Davis said.
After Jordan explained that the information was preliminary, Davis asked why the committee was being presented with the briefing, and Jordan said Riverfront is the "main spine" and "artery" to "prime real estate." Davis later pointed to a rendering that included a minor league ballpark, which we posted on Saturday, and found out from Jordan that the developer no longer has plans to build it, prompting her to ask: "So what's the purpose of showing us this then?"
"Again, we're just trying to show you that this is prime real estate, and that there's a lot of interest," Jordan said. "And the kind of road that we have there now is not going to be appropriate for the kind of investment that people are going to be making on these major parcels."
Caraway showed up an hour after the presentation began to say he has some concerns after voting in favor of "every single thing" related to the Trinity project. Stressing that it wasn't "a slap" to the plan in place to redo Riverfront from Continental Avenue to Cadiz Street, Caraway said it's unfair that the Cedar Crest Boulevard bridge -- also known as the MLK Boulevard bridge -- has been neglected, and he wants the same type of planning there instead of the Great Trinity Forest.
"We don't want the forest, not there," he said, later adding: "It is not our forest."
Despite his negative comments about the Great Trinity Forest, Caraway strangely suggested Trinity Forest Bridge as a name for the bridge. Of course, this is the same bridge that Davis asked Jordan to replace in January 2008. Caraway said with Mark Cuban's Wonderview development nearby, "prioritized attention" should be paid to the area.
"I'm satisfied if it's 10 years from now, but there oughta be some plan on the table," he said.
Construction for Riverfront's makeover, which includes adding two more vehicle lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks and landscaping, is expected to begin in November 2011 and wrap up two years later. The project's $14 million budget shortfall would seem be an obstacle, but Jordan said the city plans to tap the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Dallas County or city taxpayers in the upcoming bond program for the funds. And if that fails, the project will be reworked.
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Delia Jasso said the plan is a "good step," but she doesn't want this to become a one-size-fits-all approach. She also noted the lack of awnings and retail in the renderings.
Steve Salazar expressed his concern that the city is putting a lot of money on the table, but no developers are coming forward with concrete plans for the area, which could backfire if the city's plan has to be changed to accommodate their needs at a later date.
Renderings also included a proposed relocation of the Dawson State Jail. Jordan doesn't know where it would end up, but she said it's prime to be gutted and renovated into an apartment complex or hotel. Those costs would fall to the developer, Jordan stressed, and she added that the jail could be relocated out of the city.
Committee members offered no comments or questions regarding the briefing about the city's progress related to the levee improvements and "The Evolution of the Trinity River Corridor Project -- 1998 to Present."