With over $400 million in hand, the next phase of the Central City Flood Project is underway. But as the project ramps up, the Trinity River Vision Authority board is planning to meet less often. 

The board decided to move to bi-monthly meetings in March and has not held a meeting since. In the four months since the last meeting, the board has struggled to get enough members to form a quorum. The board’s May meeting was canceled on the day of the meeting when members realized there wouldn’t be a quorum. 

What is a quorum?

According to Texas Law, a quorum is a majority, or over half, of a governmental body. Without meeting quorum, the body cannot meet.

Along with waiting for project partners to complete the planning phase of the project, the board has transitioned to a mainly advisory role following a 2019 report, conducted by Riveron, that clarified their duties. 

“We accomplished the bridges and we secured the funding, and we’re at a point now that the US Army Corps of Engineers and the water district are doing the lion’s share of the work on this project,” Board President G.K. Manius said. 

“It’s not unusual in the summertime for us to skip one or two meetings simply because of vacations and all those reasons,” Maenius said. 

The Trinity River Vision Authority board has evolved as certain responsibilities were transferred to the Tarrant Regional Water District Board of Directors, per the 2019 report. The recreation and economic development aspects of the Panther Island project were transferred to other oversight bodies, including the water district and community development corporation

“Our mission changed to a certain degree,” Maenius said. “We handed back a lot of the efforts with the corps back to the water district since they’re their local entity … But really the core responsibility of the TRVA has never really changed, and that’s really to provide a forum.”

The executive director, formerly JD Granger, for the Central City Flood Project reports directly to the Trinity River Vision Authority board. The project has not had an executive director since October 2019, when Granger was removed from the position a few months after the board received Riveron’s report.

Since leaving his role with the water district, Granger has rejoined as an outside consultant. Now, the river vision authority board serves in an advisory role to the project by receiving updates from project partners like the corps, the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant Regional Water District. 

“We don’t take any formal action on contracts or anything of that nature,” board member Bob Riley said. “Quite honestly, there was a lack of action that we needed to take.”

Water district General Manager Dan Buhman suggested the change in schedule to give staff more time to prepare reports for the board. He compared the meetings to cooking on a Traeger grill, which doesn’t work as well if the chef opens the lid prematurely.  

“If you keep opening up the lid ‘you’re not cooking — you’re just looking,’” Buhman said at the March meeting. 

While the corps finalizes and puts in place its work plan, the city is beginning to analyze the zoning plan for the island. The decades-old zoning plan will be analyzed with the help of a working group and then go to the vision authority board for discussion, Maneius said. 

The city will play an integral role in the implementation of the project going forward, District 9 council member Carlos Flores, who represents the city on the board, said. However, the Corps will determine the timeline for different aspects of the project. 

“We rely on direction from the corps to kind of set the cadence,” Flores said. 

The board is scheduled to meet on the fourth Thursday of July, if it can secure a quorum. 

“Our goal is to ensure that whenever we hit meaningful marks in the progress of the projects, we review those and discuss them in an open forum,” Maneuis said. “That way we maintain the transparency that we’ve attempted to build this project from the very beginning.”

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report in collaboration with KERA. She is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri where she majored in Journalism and Political...