The Wright Response: August 24, 2017

By  | 

Recently, KBTX aired a feature on the new Park West Development on the A&M Campus. Granted, there are two sides to every story, and we were held accountable by some who took issue with this project:

"KBTX News, Your 'everything is awesome when you live at Park West' exuberant showcase of the opening of the Chancellor's latest gold mine Park West was sickening for well-informed, long time BCS residents and private investors. Did they pay you for that? Park West development is built to house 3,400 students. Those students would occupy at least 900 privately owned, tax paying houses or apartments! Look carefully at the TAXABLE value and Estimated Taxes With Exemptions: $0.00. Estimated Taxes Without Exemptions: $2,920,024.21. Recently the University developed a huge dorm/apt complex on the West Campus (White Creek) housing thousands. Same deal for the Century Square mixed use development under construction. What a gold mine for the University AND for their private investment partners! Can you say "crony capitalism?" What effect is the enormous University System massive housing buildup having on local city & school revenues? On local rental investors? Why not ask some leasing agencies, apartment managers, etc? Any room for balance in economic news, or just promotion?"

Following this note, I received a nice e-mail from the person who sent this, apologizing for the tone, but I'm good with it. Anyone who expresses an opinion and leaves a name – I'm good with that. KBTX News Director Josh Gorbutt replied:

"It's true that our community won't benefit from property tax revenue related to Park West and the White Creek Apartments- both developments on campus that house students and staff. It's incorrect, however, that the Century Square development is tax exempt. Tenants there are already paying property taxes on land that's been exempt from taxation for decades. These are complicated issues, and they've been the subject of several stories on KBTX, including a great piece by Whitney Miller where College Station Mayor Karl Mooney directly expressed frustration over the Park West development. That story definitely caused some commotion, and you may remember that shortly thereafter the University announced they wouldn't seek tax exemptions for their planned hotel and conference center, which opens in 2018.
I don't think anyone in our newsroom is unaware of the compromises that public-private partnerships require, and we try to tell those stories effectively. We do welcome feedback like yours because we know it's how we grow as a newsroom and better serve the community. That day, though, the story was just what we ran, and it's tough to deny: Park West is an impressive, one-of-a-kind development."

A big Thank You to Teresa Mangapora and the crew at the Brazos Valley Food Bank for another highly successful Feast of Caring event. And to the BISD Education Foundation for having me back once again this year as the emcee. Finally, CONGRATULTIONS to a legend at Sam Houston State. Julia May had a retirement party earlier today. She has worked in the Communications office there for many years, most recently Associate Director of Communications and PIO. A class act, and dedicated to the Bearkats. You will be missed – and thank you for your years of working with so many in the media.

Be in touch anytime. Your opinion matters to the family of KBTX News 3.

Rreach Mike Wright at wright@kbtx.com.