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Wall separates TCC, Trinity River Vision group

FORT WORTH -- Tarrant County College is clashing with the Trinity River Vision Authority and the Fort Worth Streams and Valleys Committee over the college's plans for a large wall near its new downtown campus designed to protect the river's north levee.

The dispute caused the Downtown Design Review Board to delay approving the plans for the so-called diaphragm wall and a retaining wall at the campus, which is under construction on the bluff next to the Tarrant County Courthouse. The case will be scheduled for review at the board's June meeting.

J.D. Granger, a member of the Downtown Design Review Board and executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority, wants the college to commit to tearing down the walls when the levees are decommissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers as expected when the Trinity Uptown flood-control project is completed in about eight years.

The authority, which is overseeing the Trinity Uptown project, and Streams and Valleys, a nonprofit group that works on the beautification and recreational development of the Trinity River, are concerned that if TCC builds the walls, they will restrict access to the river and possibly block views when the levee is removed.

"The walls should come down at the same time," said Granger, who has been a strong supporter of the campus. "When the levee comes down, they should also take down the portions that are not under the buildings."

Granger said the groups have asked TCC for the commitment for several months.

TCC's response

"There's an issue we need to work out that's bigger than the Downtown Design Review Board and the college," Ritenour said. "It's about the central city. We want the same results. We've got a lot of work to do to make it happen."

The college needs the review board's approval on everything to obtain city building permits. If the board does not approve the construction of the walls, TCC will not be able to build on the north side of the river until the levees are decommissioned.

Changing plans

After a year of conducting numerous engineering studies, TCC filed its final application asking for permission to build on the levee about a month ago. Word from the corps' Fort Worth office should come shortly. The permit application then goes to its Dallas regional office and Washington headquarters.

The process has delayed by nearly two years -- and added $3.4 million to the cost -- the planned opening of the 38-acre campus on the north end of downtown and on both sides of the Trinity River. The college hopes to open the campus in 2010. Construction on the $297.5 million first phase began early last year on the south side of the river.

The college will not be required to tear down the levee when it is decommissioned. The corps has indicated that property owners will be allowed to make that decision.