Tag Archives: Melissa Dailey

What became of this Amarillo ‘movement’?

When you see the word “movement” attached to a political activity, you ought to get the feeling of a groundswell, an initiative with staying power.

I thought recently of a “movement” that surfaced in Amarillo in 2015. It was called the Amarillo Millennial Movement. Do you recall it, too? Good on ya if you do.

The AMM is gone. It vanished into thin air seemingly the moment that city voters in November 2015 approved a non-binding referendum calling for construction of the multipurpose event venue in downtown Amarillo.

Its co-founder was a young woman named Meghan Riddlespurger, who followed her friend and mentor Melissa Dailey to Fort Worth; Dailey was forced out as director of Downtown Amarillo Inc. When Dailey hit the road, the AMM’s co-founder hit the road with her.

The ostensible idea behind the AMM was to energize the city’s younger residents, to encourage them to stay in Amarillo rather than bolt for greener pastures, more opportunity, greater career choices. AMM got excited about the MPEV and a few of those young folks — their numbers aren’t exactly clear to me — became involved in the pro-MPEV campaign.

It’s troubling to me that AMM isn’t around today to relish the news that came out about the pending start of the 2019 Texas League baseball season, which will include an Amarillo-based team affiliated with the San Diego Padres of the National League.

The Local Government Corporation managed to finish the deal. The LGC persuaded the San Antonio Missions to come here in time for the 2019 season. The ballpark where they’ll play must be done on time for them to throw out the first pitch.

We’re focusing on the baseball element. The team that will play at the ballpark will be its primary tenant. There will be other events at the MPEV/ballpark. That’s what I always understood was the focus behind AMM’s mission, to generate youthful exuberance to attend the various other entertainment-related events at the venue.

Riddlespurger has spoken publicly about the negativity she experienced while leading this AMM effort. That was one major reason why she decided to leave Amarillo. Interesting, yes? She helps found an organization that urges young residents to stay home, then she bails on the city to pursue a career opportunity.

Hey, I don’t blame her for seeking to advance her own future.

The Amarillo Millennial Movement, though, is a “movement” in name only. AMM is no longer around to witness the culmination of its greatest political triumph.

My hope springs eternal. Perhaps another group can rise up and join the marketing effort that will be required to ensure that the MPEV/ballpark attracts the activity it must to make it worth the effort to build it

City seeks ‘change,’ but to what end?

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I understand full well what Amarillo voters intended when they voted to revamp the majority on their governing City Council.

They sought “change.” They got it. Some of it has been constructive, some of it has been, well, non-constructive. I won’t say “destructive,” because nothing has been destroyed.

Now comes perhaps the most significant change yet: the de-coupling of the city from Downtown Amarillo Inc., the non-profit agency set up to spearhead downtown’s redevelopment.

I look from my perch in the peanut gallery and keep asking: Why mess with a formula that has brought us significant positive movement?

DAI will continue to exist. It won’t get city money. It will operate as an independent agency. At this moment, it doesn’t have an executive director; Melissa Dailey, who led DAI in that position, quit early this week on the eve of the City Council’s decision to cut the city’s ties with the agency.

She saw what was coming and wanted out.

But the question in my mind remains: Have we enacted change just for the sake of fulfilling some general campaign promise?

I look back on my 21 years living in Amarillo and I see significant improvement in the city’s downtown district.

Polk Street, once the hub of social life in Amarillo, has begun showing signs of life again. New office complexes have sprouted up. The historic Fisk Building was emptied out and then re-cast into a first-class hotel run by Marriott. Southwestern Public Service has begun construction on a new office complex. The Chase Tower, which once was a decaying skyscraper, has been remodeled and modernized. We’ve seen the completion of loft apartments.

Did all this happen by itself? Well, no.

DAI had a hand in some — if not most — of the improvements we’ve seen.

I haven’t yet met the new interim city manager. Terry Childers seems like a mature, forward-thinking individual with a proven record of success. He’ll be running the City Hall administrative show until the council finds a permanent manager.

My hope is that he knows what he’s doing by recommending all these changes.

My fear is that he and the rest of governing machinery have tossed aside a winning formula without knowing what will take its place.

I am pulling for hope to override fear.

 

DAI and city part company . . . why?

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A whole lot of things go way beyond my ability to understand.

I don’t get Donald Trump’s continuing presence at the top of polls gauging the Republican presidential primary; I don’t understand how scientists are able to calculate when Earth is closest to Mars.

Nor do I understand why Amarillo City Hall and Downtown Amarillo Inc. have said “goodbye” to each other.

DAI executive director Melissa Dailey quit her job on Monday. On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council ended its financial relationship with the non-profit organization. There will continue to be some kind of relationship, although it’s still to be determined.

I have to ask: How come? Why end a partnership that so far has produced significant movement in the revival of the city’s downtown business district, with more projects yet to come?

Council members spoke well of Dailey and all that occurred on her watch at DAI.

So, then the council decides to end its financial ties to the agency. Interim City Manager Terry Childers spoke of a “new phase” of downtown redevelopment.

I look around the central business district and I see plenty of work that’s already been done. New business has sprouted up. The Fisk Building has been turned into a first-class business hotel.

We’ve got those three huge projects — Embassy Suites, a parking garage, and the SPS office complex — under construction.

I drove to Fritch this morning and sped past the new Coca-Cola distribution center at the business park where relocated from downtown. The old site? It’s going to make way for a downtown ballpark.

All this happened on DAI’s watch . . . on Melissa Dailey’s watch.

She’s gone. DAI’s future now is limbo. City Councilman Randy Burkett referred to it possibly going away in the near future.

Why is the City Hall brass monkeying around with a successful formula for creating a resurgent downtown?

 

 

Downtown’s future takes a hit

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They’re messing with an agency with a mission to improve downtown Amarillo’s fortunes.

Just the other day came word that interim Amarillo City Manager Terry Childers is considering moving some of Downtown Amarillo Inc.’s economic development duties to an office in City Hall.

My question then was: Why mess with success, given all the good that has happened downtown while DAI has been on task?

Now comes the latest boulder to get tossed into the machinery. DAI executive director Melissa Dailey has resigned.

I’ll admit that I’m not privy to Dailey’s reasoning, but the timing of her resignation — which the DAI board accepted unanimously — suggests some relationship to what the city manager is considering.

DAI board president John Lutz said┬áthat downtown’s future is “bigger than one person.” Fair enough.

Still, this isn’t good news for the city.

I’m not entirely clear about all the issues surrounding Dailey’s tenure at DAI. I’d heard some of the grumbling from those who blame Dailey directly for the Wallace Bajjali fiasco. Yes, Wallace Bajjali turned out to be all hat and no cattle with regard to downtown revival efforts here, but the breakup of the master development company didn’t bankrupt the city.

The two company principals had a huge falling out. One of them, David Wallace, has filed for personal bankruptcy. So they’re gone. Good riddance.

Has downtown’s movement slowed? No. Does DAI deserve to be castigated over the work that’s been done so far? Hardly. It has done well — and so has Dailey. The proof can be seen throughout the downtown district.

However, the non-profit agency now appears to be a target. My strong hunch is that Dailey didn’t want to become collateral damage if the city decides to revamp DAI’s mission.

The city is messing with success.

 

Hey, maybe Amarillo really is a baseball town

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Paul Matney seems to be a serious expert on baseball and its potential interest in his hometown.

The retired Amarillo College president hit the stump this fall to campaign for approval of a multipurpose event venue in downtown Amarillo. Part of Matney’s pitch was that Amarillo “is a baseball town.”

The MPEV received voters’ endorsement on Nov. 3 in a non-binding municipal referendum. The Amarillo City Council then ratified the results and voted unanimously to proceed with development of the MPEV.

Then, what do you think was revealed just this week?

Melissa Dailey, head of Downtown Amarillo Inc., told the Local Government Corporation that, by golly, she’s had some informal contact with a Class AA minor-league baseball franchise that might be interested in setting up an operation in Amarillo.

Dailey said she is not at liberty — yet! — to disclose the name of the franchise. She said the city is on a “short list” of communities being considered.

Hey, didn’t Paul Matney predict this might happen if voters approved the MPEV?

Yes, I believe he did.

The LGC is moving forward, per the City Council’s advice. It will report to the council regularly as it continues its work toward developing the $32 million MPEV.

And now the conversation might include a minor-league baseball outfit, with major-league connections, that could move into the MPEV once it’s built.

Who knew?

Oh yeah. Paul Matney seemed to be ahead of the curve.

 

Is the MPEV actually picking up some steam?

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If you had asked me, oh, a month ago whether I thought the multipurpose event venue would begin gathering forward momentum so soon after a citywide vote, I’d have said, “not a chance.”

My concern was that foot-dragging would impede the MPEV’s progress, that the Local Government Corporation might begin looking for reasons to delay it.

Well, things might be working out all right after all.

Timeline set for MPEV

The LGC is beginning now to assign duties to city staffers charged with carrying the MPEV forward. Downtown Amarillo Inc. executive director Melissa Dailey has informed the LGC that her office has had informal contact with an organized minor-league baseball franchise that might be interested in moving to Amarillo and playing some old-fashioned hardball in the MPEV. Nothing is set. No deal is done. It’s just conversation, she said.

Then came an LGC decision, which was that it should pursue an affiliated team first rather than an independent team, such as the Amarillo Thunderheads, which has entered into a goofy decision next season to split its home schedule between Amarillo and Grand Prairie.

By all mean, LGC, pursue the affiliated team!

The LGC has been advised that time is not on its side. It has deadlines to meet, work to get done, firms to hire and construction to begin.

The LGC now aims to have the MPEV open for business by the start of the 2018 baseball season, perhaps March or April of that year.

Were some of us wrong about the LGC’s commitment to following through on the voters’ expressed desire to build the MPEV and the ballpark associated with it.

Man, I sure hope so.