City council to decide on plaza project
YAKIMA, Wash.- City Council Member Dulce Gutierrez says in the 2018 budget there may not be money to pay for both the plaza and the aquatic center. She says the city needs to decide on which is a priority.
"We should all expect as a city that that lawsuit will come forward and we will have to fight legally to push the plaza forward that we currently don't have funding for in 2018," said Gutierrez.
Some in the plaza fundraising committee say that's simply not true, that the funding for the plaza has always been there and that some are trying to use the plaza as a scapegoat for city financing issues.
City Council member Jason White says the city could be setting itself up to get sued if it tears down the parking lot based on a 1974 ordinance.
"That ordinance was misrepresented. One sentence was taken out of that paragraph and made it look like we can replace the parking lot, but if you read it as a whole that's not the way it's written. It's written to protect the parking in that space for the people that paid money to make it a parking lot," said White.
Still there are those who want the plaza. Private donors have pledged more than nine million dollars to help build it and the city has already put time and money into planning.
"We need the businesses downtown, we need more attraction. Everyone is going to Union Gap instead of staying in Yakima," said Sarah Rogers, a plaza project supporter.
Location has been another big issue for locals and businesses. City council member Holly Cousens says some have suggested different places to build the plaza, but the city isn't able to alter the plan.
"As the plan was presented to us, it was presented as a package deal and we couldn't look at other locations or other plans," said Cousens.
Now Gutierrez says they are faced with two options that could mean possible legal consequences.
"If we withdraw from our agreement with the aquatic center from west Yakima, we will be faced with a lawsuit. On the other hand if we move forward with the plaza project we'll be faced with a lawsuit. In reality it shouldn't be a difficult on which one we need to move forward with and which one we should stop now," said Gutierrez.