Portions of Panther Island Project Review Released to NBC 5

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NBC 5 News

Late Wednesday night, NBC 5 Investigates obtained a portion of the much-anticipated review of Fort Worth’s Panther Island project.

NBC 5 Investigates exclusively obtained portions of the report from a government source after the project's board president argued the findings should be kept private for now.

The report said the project had "unclear revenue and expenditure projections," "unclear financial and management reporting," "no project management office" and "inconsistent views on project goals and objectives."

It also said there was "insufficient ...oversight and transparency" and a "complicated, opaque structure and hierarchy."

One of the recommendations was to create a "clear, defined organizational structure."

G.K. Maenius, board president of the Trinity River Vision Authority, argued that the TRVA staff should have a month to review the report before it was released to the public to ensure its findings were based on accurate "data." 

The publicly funded Panther Island project budgeted up to $461,000 to pay for the outside review, which includes an initial payment of $150,000.

It’s 90-page report includes about a dozen recommendations on how things could be done differently on Panther Island.

The initial delay in releasing the report angered board members David Cooke, Fort Worth's city manager, Carlos Flores, who is on the City Council, and James Hill, each arguing the report is due, and should be released.

Flores added that by delaying its release, giving the water project's staff time to counter the review's recommendations, dilutes the water district's promises that the study would be done by a third-party, impartial group.

Maenius responded: "I know you're disappointed."

J.D. Granger, executive director of the TRVA, and Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District, said the delay was justified.

Granger added that releasing the study's findings would make it available to the media - specifically naming NBC 5 Investigates and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram - and he predicted the reports would be inaccurate.

NBC 5 Investigates has reported extensively on the financial and construction problems that have beset the business and flood-control project, which has ballooned to over $1 billion over the past 13 years.

Those problems, and the time it's taken to build Panther Island, has frayed the patience of the public, especially those whose homes and businesses have been impacted.

The setbacks also triggered the outside review, conducted Riveron Consulting, a national consulting firm.

Maenius said he did not want the postponement of the report’s release to the public to be “seen as a delaying tactic.’

Instead, he said. "we just didn’t want to miss anything" that might be reported, based on inaccurate information.

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