City Hall

Council Remains Tight-Lipped On How It Plans on Repaying Corps of Engineers That $15 Mil

Schutze is at the council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee meeting; he didn't want to miss Trinity River Corridor Project Managing Director Rebecca Rasor's presentation Trinity River Corridor Project Update On Recreation, where -- and you won't believe this -- they still have those renderings of the solar-powered water taxis, right behind the West Dallas Lake Rowing and the amphitheater to be "used for rowing competition viewing." Tune in now. Especially if you like reruns.

Me, I'd dialed in hoping to see the committee discuss another agenda item: Dallas Floodway Extension Repayment Update, related to that $15 million in federal funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants the city to return. Problem is: As soon as the committee went into session -- following the Transportation committee's lengthy chitchat about Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board nominees, including former Dallas City Manager Jan Hart Black and one-time mayoral candidate Sam Coats -- they went right into executive session "to consult with the city attorneys on the proposed repayment agreement," per chair Vonciel Jones Hill.

About 15 minutes after they went into session, the council members returned, at which point Hill said they've decided the repayment issue will not appear on any council agenda "at any date certain."

As you may recall, the Corps says it gave the city $15 million when "we weren't authorized to do so," in the words of Col. Richard J. Muraski Jr., Commander of the Fort Worth District -- something the Corps says it discovered in September of last year. And about $8 million of that went toward buying real estate for the project: "In the absence of the federal funds, the City would have had to obtain these funds from other sources in order to advance the project as they have been able to do," said the Corps' September heads-up. "The City will now shoulder the expense for future real estate purchases as part of their contributions to the project."

So much for finding out how the city plans on repaying the dough. Messages have been left at the Corps' Fort Worth office to get their side. Fingers are crossed.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky