Main Plaza Improvement Debate!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
December 8, 2005

Recently our Mayor launched an idea to improve Main Plaza. I believe a case can be made for improvement of this and other Plazas. I do not agree with a multi-million dollar price tag or with a permanent closing down of any streets around it however, to do so!

There is hardly anything or anybody in this world that cannot stand some form or another of improvement, including me. The question here is one of need. Given limited resources, all of us especially public officials, must prioritize what is most important.

I have never found the Main Plaza area particularly in need of major change. What I have found is that the surrounding streets make this part of town more useful and less labored as we locals travel through this part of the City. East Commerce has little equal in terms of transporting downtown traffic from east to west. Equally busy is Dolorosa or Market Street going west to east. The north-south arteries of South Main and Dwyer-Soledad are also significant streets that convey downtown traffic to and from the very busy Courthouse and the Justice Center.

Part of the attraction to the idea of Main Plaza improvement is the enhancement of the tourist interface with the river. This is fine. My request of the City leaders is that any improvement in Main Plaza should not make traveling by locals inconvenient. Aside from consideration of tourists, downtown must continue to work for the locals that use downtown for business.

What impact closure of streets will have on access for emergency vehicles or on the existing businesses along East Commerce, Dolorosa-Market Street, Dwyer-Soledad and South Main is unknown. It cannot help however but be damaging. I am referring to locals who work in this area.

With tourists being the primary reason for this proposal, why not fix up the Hemisfair Plaza historic housing along Goliad Street. These old, classic city-owned homes are in varying states of "demolition by neglect". Of great importance would seem to be their care and proper maintenance for those visitors who will visit Hemisfair Plaza from the surrounding hotels. These hotels surrounding Hemisfair Plaza are among others, Hilton Palacio del Rio, The Fairmount, the City's newly proposed large convention hotel, the Sheraton, the Marriott Riverwalk and Rivercenter hotels. Add to this the proximity to this convention city's convention center, a major cash cow and one can readily see that there is a need for improvement of this Plaza.

With respect to the amount of money that is being proposed to be spent, I am hearing a figure of $10,000,000! I am in hopes that the County will not allocate any unnecessary money for this essentially City initiative. I want to work with the City as much as possible to enhance Main Plaza, but hard-earned County tax dollars must be invested in more basic services or returned to the taxpayers. Let's improve the basics of our City first!

Stay tuned as this issue unfolds.

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