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Local newspaper says plaza fundraising numbers are phony

Local newspaper says plaza fundraising numbers are phony

YAKIMA, Wash.-- We'll soon find out if the downtown Plaza is a go. December 31 is the final day to raise the remainder of the $242 thousand needed to make this project a reality.

KIMA spoke with John Cooper of the Plaza Steering Committee a few weeks ago, and he said he was confident the Plaza would happen.

“I don't have any doubts. I think with the support of the community and the outreach efforts our committee is doing, we're gonna hit our goal,” said Cooper.

According to their website, as of December 21, the Yakima Plaza is 98% funded.

Bruce Smith of the Yakima Valley Business Times begs to differ. He says these numbers are inaccurate because as of December 6, a lot of donors had yet to make it official.

“If you went through and you eliminated the people who have not signed contracts, and the people's whose donations exceed five years, it's $3.8 million that they've got,” said Smith.

Smith says the City Council had laid out strict guidelines regarding donations made to fund the plaza: verbal pledges do not count, there has to be a signed contract, and the money must be paid within five years.

As of December 6, the city reported $7.6 million had been raised, but Smith says there was only about $3.8 million-worth of contracts. I asked Smith why these numbers would be reported.

“Make it look good. Why else would you put phony numbers on there, you know? And I think that a lot of those numbers are gonna come true and I think they’re projecting, ‘This is where we think we're going to be,’ but that's way different than, ‘This is where we're at.’ And they said, ‘This is where we're at,’ and it’s not where they’re at,” said Smith.

Smith says the city should give up on what they say is a game-changer for Yakima, because it’s not what the general public wants. But in the end, he doesn't see the project raising enough money by New Year’s Eve.

“I don't expect them to reach it. It’s gonna take one of two things: it’s gonna take either phony numbers or a last-minute-somebody stepping in with a major contribution. And you know, it’s not impossible. And if that happens, well then good for them, we'll move on to the next step, and if it doesn't happen, then we're gonna make them verify their numbers, and play by the rules,” said Smith.

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