Amarillo, TX - Many Amarillo voters are calling for the downtown Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV) to be on the November ballot and they may see that happen.
The new city council members have recently sat through multiple downtown development meetings and they believe they are now ready to use what they've learned to make a decision on whether to put the MPEV on the ballot.
"I think this is a very serious matter and it requires our urgent attention," said council member Elisha Demerson at the city council meeting on Tuesday. He is one of three new council members who campaigned on letting voters decide the future of the MPEV.
Next Tuesday, the possibility of putting the MPEV to a public vote will be an official agenda item for the council to discuss. Depending on how that discussion goes, the council members could then vote to put it on the ballot.
Mayor Paul Harpole said if voters vote against the MPEV, it could hurt downtown development beyond just the three catalyst projects. "I am holding a letter here from the people who have bought the Firestone building and they say we need the MPEV to proceed with our project and that those three catalyst projects work together to develop the market they need to invest in the Firestone building and put living units in that Firestone building."
Harpole also received a letter from the partners who plan to redevelop the Barfield building. "They have said they are ready to go, but the cancellation or threat of cancellation of any of those announced projects would put their project totally in jeopardy," said Harpole. "They could not proceed. So we have those things definitely at risk."
Right now, the city is contractually obligated to build the downtown parking garage for both Potter County and the hotel. Harpole said taking the MPEV out of the equation could make paying for the parking garage and filling retail space on the bottom level a challenge.
The city is anticipating attractions downtown to generate about $425,000 in parking revenue each year to pay for the garage. On top of that, the MPEV operator will be required to pay $250,000 for parking annually.
"My concern is, without the MPEV, how much of that will be lost? My view is that the MPEV would require a public vote if we were raising taxes, but we've promised, I've promised through three campaigns for office, that we are not raising taxes to do these things."
If the council ultimately votes to put the MPEV on the ballot, they will have to act quickly. All ballot items must be submitted to the Potter County Elections Administration by August 24.