Stop me if you've heard this one before.   "Yakima Plaza"   OK, not funny.

Sad actually that such a positive idea with so much potential has become a punchline for a number of my fellow Yakamanians.  The opportunity to vote to kill the plaza has a number of people fairly drooling.  Here's what they say, "if the plaza is such a good idea why not be confident with a public vote."  On the surface that makes sense.  But that's assuming voters have enough accurate information to recognize the actual good in the good idea.
Allow me to explain.  The original consultant team of Crandall Arambula said to involve as many people as possible in the initial planning stages and get consensus of those who cared enough to invest time and energy to create and launch the vision of the project.  Yakima did all that.  And then, based on their years of experience in working with plaza projects in a variety of communities, the firm of Crandall Arambula recommended not having a public vote.  WHY NOT??
They told me personally that there simply isn't enough time or money necessary to reach all the people in a city of 95-thousand who are willing to vote with incomplete, false or misleading  information about the project.
Now a number of people take offense at the idea that they may not know what they are talking about when it comes to the plaza.  Their minds are made up by what they know now and they often get quite testy if challenged.  Questioning their knowledge or pointing out misinformation is interpreted as me being arrogant or being a bully.
I always give the same response.  Please, vote however you want, once you fully understand the intent and workings of the plaza (including parking)  And THAT is the problem.  After 5 years, so many people who didn't participate at the beginning, still don't really know.  Based on a number of facebook exchange over the last couple of days I would like to use an actual exchange as an illustration of why a public vote is an unfair approach to final approval of the plaza.

The city council is supposed to have a command of the history, facts and information that the average citizen couldn't possibly know -it's their job after all- and based on that, the council should handle the vote--it's their job.   BUT was demonstrated at the last council meeting, several member have no idea about the funding mechanisms even though they have been part of plaza budget materials for two YEARS!   So hopefully  they'll read this as well.

A gentleman by the name of Josh Hein joined the conversation of supporter about how Yakima residents fought the West Valley Walmart and look how much positive growth that has triggered and why couldn't the plaza do the same?  Here is his post:
Josh Hein Lol west valley and downtown yakima are 2 completely different locations and please tell me why a bunch of people that dont live anywhere near there pay for a park they are barely going to use just so the people that live around there can use it thats socialism. And a park and retail store are 2 different things. A store brings in money a park does absolutely nothing.
HERE IS MY RESPONSE...(an honest attempt to inform Josh, who has strong feelings, but inaccurate information)
***Josh, this is an attempt to clarify the plaza's purpose and not meant as any kind of personal attack But you are missing the entire point of the project. It's not about a "park".

A park could go anywhere if that's all it is meant to be. Shade and grass and water mean nothing by themselves in this context. This park-like setting is just a nicely designed and efficiently equipped space to program activities, lots and lots of activities that will draw crowds. And they do draw crowds all over the country. Plaza communities say "there is always something to see or do going on downtown"


By design, parks are quiet and peaceful, while plazas are alive and buzzing with human activity. It is that activity that will attract the attention of business. Activity is foot traffic--pedestrian traffic -hundreds or thousand of people coming there every week or weekend, all those events and the people they draw - from west valley, Yakima and all over the county- mean lots of potential customers for existing business and are intended to be the BAIT to draw in investment in new businesses. THAT is the PURPOSE of the plaza.

Why THAT space? Because of that location in Yakima, experts who studied our city determined there is the potential of 70 million dollars in NEW investment in the surrounding couple of people willingly spending their own money (Capitalism) all directly attributed to all the people expected to be drawn to the events in the please recognize that it is not just a park.

The plaza is an economic tool, not a park, even though it has a beautiful park-like setting -- here is the website for Crandall Arambula and the philosophical approach Yakima hired to help revitalize DOWNTOWN

You also wrote "and a park and retail store are 2 different things. A store brings in money a park does absolutely nothing."***you are right...but this is where most of the opponents arguments break down. People mistakenly believe the plaza is just a park. This"park" is not a park, it's a tool designed to attract the private investment in more stores in the downtown core , I hope you can understand and appreciate the difference. If it is done right, there should be all kinds of reasons thousands of west valley residents will want to come downtown and enjoy the plaza activity on a regular basis year round. Take a look at what Casper Wyoming has going this summer with its new plaza--

Here is a quote from the article "City leaders hoped the complex would bring more businesses and foot traffic to the city’s core, and it appears that plan is working. New businesses have popped up in the surrounding blocks including Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, Urban Bottle and the Gaslight Social bar.

Matt Galloway, the owner of the Gaslight Social, previously told the Star-Tribune that it played a role in his decision to open an establishment downtown.

“I thought to myself ‘I’m going to be on the outside looking in’ … I wanted to be part of this major [revitalization] movement,” said Galloway, who owns other bars outside the city’s core."

Finally, your concern about "socialism" is valid, but misdirected in this case...this IS capitalism, creative capitalism. The public gets activities and a fun family environment and business old and new get an opportunity to serve those families with their goods and services at a shared cost to both. Win Win, no?

So as we lurch toward a vote, how many people think the plaza is just a park?  How many people wonder why the plaza couldn't easily go somewhere else?  How many people can't imagine why they would ever go downtown -- for a park when there is nothing there?  How many people still don't understand the adjustments made to parking?  Here is the study if you haven't seen it.
You get the idea.  If a person truly understands the the whys, the whats and the wheres of the plaza and then still disagrees with it, ok, that's an informed vote with which I will just agree to disagree.  How much money, how much time will it take to reach all potential NO Votes with this kind of accurate information?  Tick Tock $$$
So THAT is why a council vote for a public vote by three of the council is an intentional vote to kill the plaza and unfair to the process.  It's a betrayal of plaza supporters and of their fellow council member and their own strategic priorities.  What is the agenda driving this kind of unfortunate behavior?

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