The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Board votes to stay with original design for downtown campus

By Katie B. Martinez/reporter

The Tarrant County College board of trustees voted unanimously July 24 to proceed with the original design plan for the new downtown campus.

Approximately 60 citizens and representatives from several different media outlets including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Channel 8 news attended the special meeting.

The controversy surrounding the campus’ sunken plaza design surfaced in recent months after Fort Worth businessman Ed Bass became vocal about the idea of using the space to create a public gathering place.

Sundance Square Inc. sponsored a three-day workshop in June for Fort Worth business leaders. Then the TCC board held an open discussion July 10 so local residents and business owners could express their views on the campus design.

Many residents questioned this new plan presented by Bass, and J.D. Granger of the Trinity River Vision Authority suggested a downtown plaza would be better suited to Sundance Square, which is owned by Bass, because of its central location and proximity to shops, bars and restaurants.

Tuesday night the board heard from the head of the construction team and architect Bing Thom, who suggested making some minor changes to improve the plaza, while leaving the original plan mostly intact.

“ It is not an easy compromise between an entryway and a civic plaza,” Thom said. “There comes a point in compromise where you lose everything.”

Bass had suggested that raising the plaza to ground level would save the college money, but the head contractors on the project and Chancellor Leonardo de la Garza said that changing the plans this far into construction would be disastrous.

“ There would, in fact, be a considerable cost involved with having the entryway to the college moved to another location,” de la Garza said.

Contractors explained that concrete and support beams already in place would have to be removed and replaced and that the entire infrastructure of the design would be compromised. They said the proposed changes would push the opening date back 12-18 months and would end up costing TCC tens of millions of dollars with no apparent benefit to the college.

The board expressed gratitude for the community involvement in the project and said they had received dozens of e-mails and phone calls on both sides of the issue.

After careful consideration of the opinions voiced by citizens and stakeholders, board members ultimately decided that while a civic plaza downtown would be ideal, it was not in the best interest of the college to build one at this location.

” As I look at this, it’s not a matter of winners or losers,” de la Garza said. “It’s a matter of the best decision to be made. We have not ignored the good ideas and suggestions and will continue our discussions with stakeholders.”

Now that the board has approved the motion to stick to the original plan, the construction team can begin getting the required permits to begin excavating under Belknap Street and expect to begin that phase of the construction in just a few weeks.

The new campus is expected to open for the spring 2010 semester.

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