Amarillo City Council is going to have a lot of eyes on it.
Some of those eyes will belong to those who want the council to send a multipurpose event venue to a vote of the residents.
Other sets of eyes will belong to individuals who think the council needs to take a breath and not act rashly.
The MPEV is going to be on the council’s agenda Tuesday. At issue is whether it should be referred to voters in a non-binding referendum. It’s non-binding because the city has no legal obligation to do the voters’ bidding — but it surely has a political obligation.
A number of Amarillo residents dislike the idea of an MPEV. They think the city’s downtown revival strategy should include expansion of the Civic Center. They do not believe the MPEV will bring the kind of activity that will breathe new life into the downtown district.
I am one who believes in the MPEV. I also hope the council decides against sending this matter to the voters.
It’s going to be paid with private investment money. City planners call it part of a “catalyst” project that will spur construction of a downtown convention hotel nearby.
I hope that’s the case. I believe it is doable.
I have it on good authority that Mayor Paul Harpole will oppose any motion to put the issue to a vote. He’s already invested a lot of energy and sweat equity into the MPEV and related projects. My sense is that Councilman Brian Eades will join the mayor in opposing a send-it-to-voters motion. That leaves the three new guys — councilmen Elisha Demerson, Randy Burkett and Mark Nair — to decide how they’ll vote. Will they vote as a bloc? Or will one, maybe two of them, rethink this idea.
If it goes to a vote and residents say “no” to the MPEV, well, the deal is dead. Downtown revival momentum will be ditched.
Is that what we want to happen? I do not.
Yes, Tuesday is going to be a big day at City Hall.