Over 60 property owners attended a Castle Coalition workshop last week, voicing their concerns over Ft. Worth’s plan to seize businesses to redirect the Trinity River to form a lake and bypass channel for “flood control.” Bureaucrats plan to sell the new waterfront property and transfer it to private hands for mixed-use development projects. Local activists see right through this scheme.
Despite their many attempts to hide this reality from the public, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—the ones who will be implementing the “flood control project”—listed redevelopment as one of the project goals. The plan states, “The primary objective of the plan was to preserve the environmental quality of the river while enhancing the quality of life in the surrounding community. Modifications to the floodway levees to provide enhanced public access were another objective of this plan.” 
Local residents explained at the workshop that the very area politicians claim to have flood problems has never flooded. So why should they hand over their cherished properties, if the only true purpose is private development?
Christina Walsh, IJ’s director of activism and coalitions, spoke at the workshop, explaining the importance of grassroots activism. She trained property owners how to become effective spokesmen against eminent domain, how to form coalitions, and the importance of working with the media.
Matt Miller, executive director of IJ’s Texas Chapter, educated attendees on eminent domain laws in Texas. Texas earned a B- in the Castle Coalition’s 50 State Report Card. Miller explained that Proposition 11, passed by voters in 2009, still leaves loopholes for politicians to abuse.
Several community leaders also attended the workshop, including Bob Lukeman. He has been fighting the Trinity River Uptown project since its inception. Not only has he outlined his reasons for opposition, but he has voluntarily developed maps and an alternative plan for “flood control” in Ft. Worth—a plan that does not involve eminent domain. His website, citizenswhocare.net, details his thoughtful proposal.
Now that local activists have the tools to fight eminent domain abuse, Ft. Worth bureaucrats should be shaking in their boots. Keep checking the Castle Coalition for updates on this exciting fight for property rights!
 Final Supplement No. 1 to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, http://www.swf.usace.army.mil/Pubdata/notices/CentralCity/ FSEIS_FortWorthCentralCity.pdf, at 23.