Yakima’s Plaza Vote Goes to the Ballot
Tuesday night the City Council voted 4 to 3 to put the Plaza advisory vote on the November ballot. Don't for a second think that the council is making a responsible outreach seeking community guidance. Three of four votes want to kill the project, the fourth wants to make peace.
Council member Kay Funk, the swing vote, wasn't moved by the urging of the business community not to send to the world the negative message that Yakima can't be trusted by developers and investors--not to demonstrate that the city vision of our future is grounded in .... existing parking. Deaf ears.
Funk's concern is for bringing to an end the polarization of the community. She believes a community vote will do that.
Council member Funk seems to think the friction will subside between the loud voices that don't want to lose their parking spots or are under the mistaken impression that the 9.6 million can be better spent elsewhere (it can't) versus the all too quiet voices of those who want the plaza and the economic development, entertainment and community gathering it promises. The problem is it won't.
If the Plaza fails it could leave a bad taste for scores of generous businesses and individuals for a long time to come. It will undermine what ever little trust is left between a council that has just betrayed each other by turning away a mutually agreed to city priority and has now broken trust with the hundreds of donors by not honoring their commitment to move ahead with the project.
What will heal the community divide Dr. Funk? The very thing that has healed plaza controversies all over the country -- building and running a successful plaza!! ASK any of the no votes - White, Cousens, Gutierrez and Funk if they have bothered to speak to any of the many communities and plaza operators who have endured similar community push-backs about their experience. What they would find if they did. is that the working plaza heals all wounds. "Naysayer" people become "I can't imagine our town without this" people. It is a universal occurrence, it's a part of human nature and it is a phone call or two away from understanding.
Did anybody on this council make the call? (I did four years ago!)
SO what happens next with the city? N-O-T-H-I-N-G.
It will be up to supporters to mount an informational, educational and persuasive campaign for what was started out as a public/private partnership. False information, mistaken information and no information voters need to be reminded of the Truth and Intent of the project. One way or another, most folks have their minds made up already but some may be open to fresh input as we close in on the November Election so that informational effort must get organized and get underway.
By the way, Casper, Wyoming, population 60,000, 2/3rds the size of Yakima, recently completed a new plaza based on the Rapid City, South Dakota model. Wonder how it's doing? Check it out. http://downtowncasper.com/david-street-station/
FYI -Here are a couple of paragraph from a June 18th article in the Casper Star Tribune -- [ The plaza has increased the number of events in the community and brought crowds downtown on a regular basis, Downtown Development Authority CEO Kevin Hawley said. “It’s doing everything it was supposed to do, not only for the community but for downtown,” Hawley said. “It’s grown significantly and people are coming downtown that a year and a half ago you never saw them.” ]
Hmmmm,how about that? Here's the full article and another article from two weeks earlier, in praise of the David Street Station PLAZA.
The point is...it can work, it does work, it is working and it could work for Yakima. Why not, council? Hop a plane, fly to Casper, see for yourself!!