Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spencer Jack Wishing Us A Mighty Fine Fall From The Skagit River Vision

On the day before the Autumnal Equinox, Spencer Jack took his dad to Ground Zero of the Downtown Mount Vernon Revitalization Project, also known as the Skagit River Vision, to take a Happy First Day of Fall photo for his Great Uncle.

Spencer Jack is standing before a Get Ready sign which depicts what the Skagit River Vision will look like when it can totally be seen in a week or two.

If that sign behind Spencer Jack were not blocking the view you would be looking at the signature bridge which crosses the Skagit River, connecting West Mount Vernon to Downtown Mount Vernon. That signature bridge was built in less than four years and was built over a wide, fast moving body of water, with water elevation changes, cyclically throughout the day, to varying degrees, due to tidal action a few miles downstream.

When the Skagit River Vision's re-built riverfront opens to the public the public will be enjoying a plaza which dwarfs a recently opened plaza in another town about which I am familiar, a town with a population about 25 times bigger than Mount Vernon's.

I am still unclear how the new flood wall works. The flood wall is the key ingredient which instigated the Downtown Mount Vernon Revitalization Project, also known as the Skagit River Vision. When the Skagit River goes into flood mode Downtown Mount Vernon finds itself in a New Orleans type situation,  as in below the level of the river.

A big sandbag wall has saved Downtown Mount Vernon multiple times from a raging Skagit River. The big sandbag wall took hours to build, with hundreds helping. It takes just a few people a few minutes to put up the new flood wall.

Knowing what it is like to have lived in a town with serious flood issues, seriously addressed, is part of what makes it perplexing to me to currently live in a town with imaginary flood issues goofily, irresponsibly addressed.

Yes, perplexing, very perplexing.....

A Moving Look At One Of Fort Worth's Boarded Up Gateway Park Boardwalks

On the left you are looking at one of Fort Worth's Gateway Park boarded up Boardwalks.

There are two boarded up Boardwalks in Gateway Park. One at the west side of the park, one at the east side of the park.

Both Gateway Park boarded up Boardwalks have been boarded up eyesores for years.

One used to be able to get by that which boarded up the Boardwalk and make ones way down the Boardwalk to the point where going further was impossible.

Now, in 2014, the boarded up west side Boardwalk is boarded up with sufficient boards to prevent anyone getting on the boarded up Boardwalk without extreme effort. Upon a close look it appears a lot of the boards that make up the Boardwalk have now decomposed to the point where one would be a fool to try and get around the blockage to walk on the boarded up Boardwalk.

Below is a YouTube video which gives you a good idea of what an eyesore this boarded up Boardwalk is. And, like I say in the video, I don't understand why Fort Worth does not either tear down this boarded up Boardwalk. Or fix it...

Monday, September 22, 2014

No Fallen Trees Blocked Me From Seeing The Scenic Trinity River In Gateway Park Today

I did not manage to get myself a sufficient endorphin dose via this morning's long aerobically stimulating pool bout, so around noon I headed west to Gateway Park to roll my wheels and take a picture at my favorite Trinity River photo op location.

What you see in picture is really what the Trinity River looks like under the bright, clear blue sky. I used no special lighting effect or filter to enhance the river's natural beauty.

When I got to the roller coaster section of the mountain bike trail I heard the sound of chain saws. I figured the fallen tree obstruction I came upon the last time I rolled my wheels at this location was being chopped into pieces.

I had a lengthy debate with myself whether or not to cut the ride short so as to avoid the logging operation. By the end of the debate I decided not to avoid the logging operation.

Turned out the lengthy debate was totally unnecessary. By the time I got to the fallen tree location the chain saw operators had moved on to another fallen tree, one that had fallen on the paved trail, not the mountain bike trail.

After one time around the mountain bike trail I got on the aforementioned paved trail and rolled to the boarded up boardwalk on the west side of the park because I wanted to make a video of this eyesore. I figured if a picture is worth a thousand words a video has to be worth a lot more.

After finishing the boardwalk video project I continued rolling til I got to the Fort Woof location of the massive installation of Trinity River Vision Boondoggle Gateway Park  Master Plan Propaganda signage to make a video of that, as well.

The boarded up boardwalk video is currently being processed. It seems to be stuck at the PROCESSING 95% mark. If it ever finishes processing I'll upload the Gateway Park Master Plan video. It is quite a bit longer than the boarded up boardwalk video.

In the meantime I await incoming photos from Spencer Jack and his dad, photo documenting for me Mount Vernon's Skagit River Vision, along with that vision's completed signature bridge over actual water....

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are You A Fellow Trash Bashing Trinity Believer?

A couple minutes ago incoming email came in from Felicity Harper, subject line "OMG", with nothing else in the email but that which you see on the left.

I am assuming this is a badge one gets if one participates in the upcoming annual event where thousands of people fill thousands of bags with Trinity River litter.

The Trinity River produces an astounding amount of litter. It truly is a wonder to behold at times.

What does the T.R.E.E.S. part of the badge stand for? I have no clue.

"BELIEVE IN THE TRINITY"?

What does that mean? Believe what in the Trinity?

Are we being divided into two groups? One group which believes in the Trinity" With the other group not believing in the Trinity?

I really don't know if I believe in the Trinity or not. I suspect though that I am likely a non-believer.

Very perplexing.....

Is Open Space For Feral Cats Included In Trinity River Vision Boondoggle

Wikipedia has a Trinity River Vision Project article about which, apparently, Wikipedia is aware there are a lot of problems, as evidenced by the blurb at the top of the article which starts with the statement "This article has multiple issues".

I can clear it up for Wikipedia. The multiple issues in this Trinity River Vision Project article can be summed up by the fact that it is non-factual, for the most part, Trinity River Vision Boondoggle propaganda.

Four paragraphs from the Trinity River Vision Project article.......

The Trinity River Vision Project is a master plan for 88 miles (142 km) of the Trinity River (Texas) and its major tributaries in Fort Worth, Texas. The river is a significant part of the history of Fort Worth, and the city's downtown was developed in 1849 as an army outpost along its banks.

More than a decade in the making, the master plan was conceived by volunteers and community leaders, and adopted by the city, county, state and federal officials.[citation needed] The goal of the master plan is to preserve and enhance the river and its corridors so they remain essential greenways for open space, trails, neighborhood focal points, feral cats and recreation areas.

Infrastructure needed for flood control and transportation will restore an aging industrial area once devoted to oil refining, scrap metal yards, electrical and chemical plants. When the bypass channel is completed around 800 acres (3.2 km2) of underutilized land between the Tarrant County Courthouse and Northside Drive will be accessible for private redevelopment opportunities- in essence doubling the size of downtown. An envisioned 10,000 housing units and three million square feet of commercial, retail and educational space will make it possible for Fort Worth residents to live, work, shop, play and learn near the river.

The 2003 Trinity River Vision Master Plan was adopted by the Tarrant Regional Water District, Streams & Valleys, Inc., The City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Many projects including trail extensions, new trailheads, trail amenitites, additional low water dams and pedestrian bridges and private developments oriented to the Trinity Greenbelt have been implemented in the last six years.

I left any misspellings, bad syntax and grammar errors intact.

My favorite bit of info is this --- "The goal of the master plan is to preserve and enhance the river and its corridors so they remain essential greenways for open space, trails, neighborhood focal points, feral cats and recreation areas."

Feral cats? Methinks someone was having fun adding something ridiculous. Then again, with the Boondoggle, who knows?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tarrant Is Not The County Leading The U.S. In Real Domestic Product Growth

This morning as I perused the various online news sources I peruse every morning, when I got to the news source for my old local home zone of the Skagit Valley, via a website called GoSkagit, I learned something I did not know previously.

That being that my old home zone is designated as a Metropolitan Statistical Area by those who pay attention to such things in the federal government, specifically designated as the Mount Vernon - Anacortes Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The article where I learned that Skagit was a Metro zone interested me for a couple reasons, with the main reason being the news that the Skagit-Anacortes Metropolitan Statistical Area has the highest Gross Domestic Product Growth in the U.S.

Another reason this article interested me was it was quite noticeable the stark difference between how the news in this article was told in my old home zone and the way it would have been told in my current home zone, a home zone which does not have what most people would consider a real newspaper reporting news in a factual, accurate, honest, un-biased, non-propaganda manner.

Had the Fort Worth Star Telegram the same type news to report we would have seen a GIANT headline at the top of the Star-Telegram's front page, screaming...

TARRANT LEADS U.S. IN REAL GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT GROWTH

While in GoSkagit the news that Skagit leads the U.S. in real gross domestic product growth is way down past the fold on GoSkagit's front page, as you can see via the screen cap above.

And the article about the Skagit Metropolitan Area leading the U.S. in GDP growth makes no mention of this fact making other Metropolitan Areas far and wide Green with Envy.

You had to click on the link on the GoSkagit front page to go to the actual article to see a big headline,


When I lived in Skagit County it was the least prosperous of Washington's Puget Sound counties. I don't know if this 10.6 percent growth has Skagit County no longer being the least prosperous Puget Sound county, or if the growth is helping the county catch up.

What I do know is this. That upon moving to Tarrant County, well over a decade ago, it was readily apparent that Tarrant County was not nearly as prosperous as the county in Washington from which I had moved.

A few examples.

Parks in Mount Vernon and Skagit County have modern amenities, like running water and modern restrooms.

Is there any other sporting venue in America which has more outhouses surrounding it on game day than the Dallas Cowboy Stadium?

The freeway exits in the two towns in Skagit County which I-5 passes through, that being Mount Vernon and Burlington, are landscaped.

Fort Worth's freeway exits to its only tourist attraction, that being the Fort Worth Stockyards, are not landscaped, instead they are littered, weed covered messes.

Arlington is in Tarrant County. The freeway exits in the Six Flags Over Texas, Ballpark  in Arlington, Dallas Cowboy Stadium zone are very well done, with murals and landscaping.

So, some parts of Tarrant County seem as prosperous as Skagit County, freeway-wise.

Skagit County has a public mass transit system called SKAT. SKAT connects to the public mass transit systems of surrounding counties. When I lived in Skagit County it was free to ride SKAT. In 2014 a fare is charged. One buck for 90 minutes, two bucks for an all day pass.

A Fort Worth T bus charges $3.50 for an all day pass. Unlike SKAT, which has lines covering all of Skagit County, Fort Worth's T does not cover all of Tarrant County, just Fort Worth.

Tarrant County is a much smaller county, size-wise, than is Skagit County. And not nearly as prosperous....

Today I Kept Out Of A Dangerous Construction Area In Fort Worth's Mallard Cove Park

Today I decided to be a rebel and not roll my wheels at their regular Saturday location in Fort Worth's Gateway Park, followed by a bout of Town Talk treasure hunting.

Instead I rolled my wheels in Fort Worth's Mallard Cove Park followed by what passes for treasure hunting in the nearby Super Walmart.

I am not a fan of seeing DANGER CONSTRUCTION KEEP OUT signs in parks I visit.

Actually I don't think I remember ever seeing such a DANGER sign before in a park I visit.

Why is there no explanation as to what is being constructed? And why it is dangerous?

Is Fort Worth building a picnic pavilion in its newest park?

Restroom facilities?

Likely no on the restroom facilities idea. Most Fort Worth parks lack modern amenities, like restrooms and running water.

Outhouses are usually available though, but not the cool high tech type ones you find on the Dallas Cowboy Stadium parking lots....

Maybe Fort Worth Should Look At Mount Vernon's Skagit River Vision

If my memory is serving me correctly on several occasions I have blogged about Fort Worth area "Master Plans" which are sort of lacking, with no project timelines for what are basically imaginary "Master Plans" mastering nothing.

Such as the Trinity River Vision and the Boondoggle's Gateway Park Master Plan.

I also am fairly certain a time or two I have opined about being appalled at the ridiculous propaganda spewed about Fort Worth's imaginary plans, and the disconnect between the propaganda and what is actually is being built.

Today I was checking out the state of my old hometown of Mount Vernon's Skagit River Vision. Soon I was looking at the Mount Vernon equivalent of Trinity River Vision Boondoggle propaganda, with a clear difference.

The Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision, with details of its Master Plan being grounded in reality, are funded and are being constructed.

Below is Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision propaganda verbiage I gleaned from a Mount Vernon website. Make note of all the things happening in Mount Vernon, population of around 30,000, compared to what's actually happening in Fort Worth, population closer to a million than 30,000. Things like an actual flood protection project, which is actually needed to fix an actual problem. And more...

“Downtown Mount Vernon is the vibrant heart of Skagit County. It is a place where people come to live, work, and play, enjoying the riverfront promenade, boutique shopping, fine dining, and entertainment of all sorts. Its public spaces are enlivened by a farmer’s market and live music. People come for its fairs, festivals, and riverfront setting. They come back for its small town character and the ease with which they can park their car and walk wherever they want to go. Downtown Mount Vernon is thriving because it is where people want to be.”

That is the vision for Downtown Mount Vernon and the City is well on its way to making it happen.

The Opportunity

The future is now!  The City of Mount Vernon has adopted a Master Plan for the Waterfront and Historic Downtown Area that provides guidelines for development over the next 20 years and presents an economic development opportunity in Downtown Mount Vernon.

The Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan is designed to build on and enhance existing retail activity along First Street, and create a vibrant, attractive, and safe waterfront and downtown, with enhanced public access to the shoreline and river, new and improved public amenities, and mixed-use redevelopment that will generate new jobs and create housing that preserves the character of downtown Mount Vernon.

Location.  Location.  Location

Mount Vernon is located along the I-5 corridor, 60 miles north of Seattle and 80 miles south of Vancouver British Columbia.  Mount Vernon is unique as it is one of the only cities west of the Mississippi and north of San Francisco that within a 100 mile radius can draw from an estimated 6 million people.

Mount Vernon’s historic downtown is bounded to the east by Interstate 5, to the west the Skagit River, to the north Lion’s Park and to the south by Section Street. Mount Vernon is minutes away from the beautiful San Juan Islands to the west and the North Cascade Mountain Range and Mt. Baker to the east.  Mount Vernon is the County seat and has a strong presence of government employees within the downtown core.  

The City’s regional transit center, built in 2004 is a gateway project located at the front door step to downtown Mount Vernon along I-5.  Skagit Multi-Modal Station offers rail, bus, commuter and taxi service to the region.

The Skagit River, which is the only river that can boast salmon runs for five different species of salmon naturally, runs through downtown Mount Vernon offering a spectacular scenic amenity within downtown.  Principle economic activities include government, healthcare, retail and tourism.

The Master Plan takes advantage of Downtown’s assets and will achieve the following goals:

Provide permanent certified flood protection for downtown to make investing in downtown Mount Vernon economically viable.

Develop a pedestrian-oriented downtown where people are encouraged to circulate on foot.

Encourage a mixture of land uses, including public open space, shoreline recreational, cultural, and institutional uses integrated with revenue producing uses that may include office, retail, restaurant, hotel, entertainment, and residential uses.

Accommodate an overall increase in residential density to provide a greater level of around-the-clock activity, support existing businesses, and improve the general economic vitality of downtown.

Provide sufficient and conveniently located parking without compromising the overall pedestrian-friendly environment.

Accommodate vehicular circulation while providing pedestrian-friendly streets.

Preserve and build upon the existing historic character of downtown.

Provide more open space and public amenities downtown.

Encourage multi-modal transportation by developing improved connections across the river, to regional trails, and to Skagit Station.

The City is undertaking a major flood protection project that will result in 100-year flood protection for downtown Mount Vernon.  In addition to the flood control measure, the City has designed and will construct a 25 foot wide, ½ mile long riverfront walk and public park along the Skagit River.

The flood protection measure is designed to protect the downtown area from flooding and remove the downtown from the FEMA 100-year flood plain designation. The flood protection measure is designed with removable sections that will be used only during flood events, therefore views and access to the river will not be encumbered.
__________________________________________________

Does the Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision remind you at all of Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision?

No?

Me either.

Key difference is the fact that the Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision is well underway to being seen. While the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle is currently building, maybe, Three Bridges Over Nothing, while, after over a decade of boondoggling, what has actually been created are things like an imaginary island with an imaginary pavilion, a brewery, drive-in movie theater, a wakeboard lake and happy hour inner tube floats where a polluted river gets rocked with beer.

The Mount Vernon Skagit River Vision addresses a real flood control issue.

Trust me, the Skagit River in flood mode is very real. I have seen what happens in downtown Mount Vernon when the Skagit River goes into rampaging flood mode. Twice I have helped sandbag a floodwall to save downtown Mount Vernon.

I have seen the Trinity River in flood mode several times since I have been in Texas. I have never seen those floods even remotely endanger downtown Fort Worth in the way I have seen the Skagit River threaten downtown Mount Vernon.

Hence one of the reasons I refer to the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's flood diversion channel as being un-needed, because it is un-needed, wasting resources to build an un-needed thing, if it ever actually does get built, under those Three Bridges Over Nothing....

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Last Friday Before Fall Walking Tour Of The Industrial Wasteland I Call Home

As you can clearly see, cloudy is our sky motif for this last Friday before the First Day of Fall.

The cloudiness looks such that one would think some precipitation would be precipitating. However, nothing wet fell on me as I took one of my semi-regular walking tours of the Industrial Wasteland I call home.

In the picture we are looking southwest across the vast Chesapeake Energy Barnett Shale gas fracking operation which takes up the northwest corner of the intersection of Boca Raton Boulevard and the 820 frontage road.

Across the middle of the picture, at the far left, sits Italy Pizza & Pasta, In the middle sits the Albertsons I frequently frequent and its collection of other stores in an antiquated 60s style strip mall in dire need of having its signage and landscaping upgraded.

The picture pretty much accurately captures what my neighborhood Industrial Wasteland actually looks like.

I suppose I could make a more flattering photo by taking a picture on a sunny day, near sunrise or sunset, with the scene bathed in a golden glow and my camera set to its sunset filter to enhance the special beauty of the moment.

But that would sort of seem like photographic propaganda to me.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Today Via Twitter Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price Favorited Me With A New Word

Today, when I returned from rolling my wheels in Fort Worth's Gateway Park, I checked my email to find a message from Twitter informing me that my favorite Fort Worth mayor, Betsy Price, had favorited me.

Well, actually what the message said was "Your Tweet got favorited!".

I don't think "favorited" is actually a word. Favorited is being red-flagged as a misspelling every time I type it.

About a half hour after learning that my favorite mayor had favorited me I mentioned to someone who shall remain Nameless that Betsy Price had favorited my latest blogging Tweet on Twitter.

Nameless acted all confused and perplexed as to what in the world Betsy Price could have favorited, since the latest blogging Nameless had read on my blog had to do with the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

Nameless said something like "Betsy Price favorited you making fun of the Trinity River Vision?"

To which I replied something like "Betsy Price seems to me to be a very intelligent person. Don't you think she is a bit embarrassed being the mayor of a town with such an embarrassing boondoggle building things like bridges over nothing, imaginary islands and non-existent pavilions?"

I do not remember if I ended up telling Nameless that the Tweet Betsy Price favorited had to do with Today Is North Texas Giving Day With Dorothy's Ruby Slippers On The Tandy Hills, which is not a controversial subject...