The Yakima Plaza Goes Down to Defeat
The on-again, off-again Yakima Downtown Plaza is off again, and given Tuesday's vote totals of 69 percent no to just 30 percent yes, it's no doubt off for good.
I have really mixed feeling about that. The people have spoken, and they must be heard and obeyed. I get that and support that. I don't agree, but that's life. You win some and you lose some, and just about anything I could say would only be interpreted as sour grapes. So I'll simply say this.
As a Yakima City Council member when the plaza idea was first presented, I want to say thanks to the people at Crandall Arambula, who worked with the city on the idea of a multimillion-dollar economic development tool that would also serve as new center focus for the city,
Thanks to all the people who caught the vision, embraced the concept and came out meeting after meeting by the hundreds to help develop the details of the plan.
I want to say thanks to the world-class landscape architect design team of Kathryn Gustafson, who created a one-of-a-kind plaza that incorporated the geographical features of the Yakima Valley. They don't come with a bigger or better resume of amazing projects, and we were fortunate to have them want to present something special for Gustafson's hometown.
To the cheerleaders and steering committee who worked so hard to support the effort -- thanks. All I can say is take a little heart in history. The consultants said years ago that plazas work when built and to expect push back and push through, but if it went to a vote, there wouldn't be enough time or money to bring everybody up to speed and that plazas rarely win voters' approval. Your job was too big, but you tried your best.
And I don't even know how to say thanks to all those generous, amazing Yakamanians who pledged their hard-earned money -- more than nine and a half MILLION dollars -- as a gift to the rest of us in faith and hope for something better for Yakima. Thank you for caring so much about your city and its future.
What's next? Good question. The city has budget issues and will need to continue to cut people and programs or come up with some other kind of economic development idea. Good luck with that.
I would hope that all who voted no will join in and help in the process for what comes next to the same extent and degree that those who voted yes did when the plaza project was first presented.