City says downtown plaza plans put on hold
YAKIMA, Wash. - Due to a few setbacks, the plans for the plaza have been put on hold.
Assistant City Manager Ana Cortez says at the last council meeting, there weren’t enough votes from council members to pass an ordinance to use the proposed parking lot to start construction on this project, which has faced both support and backlash from the public.
The city is also facing a potential legal battle with Preserve Downtown Parking, a group that’s against the plaza. For now, she says the plaza has taken a back seat.
“We’re doing the minimal. Obviously, there are things that we can still do and we are pursuing that, crunching numbers, looking at design, talking to potential partners and so on, but at this point, we can’t just continue going full speed ahead,” said Cortez.
Cortez says Councilman Brad Hill was absent from the last meeting, and he’s asked for the issue to be put back on the June 19th agenda, so his vote will likely decide if the city will move forward or not. She says because of this, the city doesn’t yet have a timeline as to when the project will begin and end, and there’s still much that needs to be done.
“We would need to finalize the design elements that we were adding to the plaza. We would have to work on the financing for the plaza, and then we would have to ask for bids,” said Cortez.
Bruce Smith of Preserve Downtown Parking says the legal battle between his group and the city hangs in the balance. The group has yet to move forward with the lawsuit, because they're waiting for the city to act. He expects after next month’s vote, they’ll know whether or not to go forward with suing the city.
“If they vote to take the parking lot away from the people who paid for it, and then in a separate vote, if they vote to approve the plaza project, we will file our lawsuit the next day, and what that’ll do is it’ll freeze everything until the lawsuit is settled. So, even though it seems like the plaza’s on a fast track, it really isn’t,” said Smith.
As of right now, the future of the plaza is unknown.