Lubbock's New Visitor Center Will Move Forward With Reduced Budget - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/24/08

Lubbock's New Visitor Center Will Move Forward With Reduced Budget

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It appears plans for Lubbock's multi-million dollar new visitor center will move forward, but with a smaller budget.

Thursday morning the Lubbock City Council voted five to two against Councilman Todd Klein's motion to put the project on hold. The council then approved Councilman Jim Gilbreath's amendment to lower the center's budget. It will now be $5.9 million instead of $6.7 million. That vote was five to one with Todd Klein opposing it. Councilman John Leonard left the meeting early before the vote was taken.

These decisions come after dozens of citizens voiced their opinion.

Mayor Miller opened the discussion saying, "At this time we'll call on the citizens to come forward and give their thoughts."

For more than an hour, the council heard citizen comments - some supporting a new center. 

"In my mind it's a little piece of urban renewal and it's done with other people's money," one citizen said.

"I'm the president of the Hotel Motel Association and I'm 100% in support of this," added another citizen.

"It's a bold and strategic move for our city and it is a good investment. It's something that we need to do," another citizen added.

"The visitor center is not going to bring a spike. However, the downtown redevelopment and getting the downtown revitalized and alive again will bring the new opportunities and it will bring new growth. This will be a start to that," a citizen said.  

In the middle of citizens comments an attorney with the Texas Hotel Association approached the podium to answer council's questions regarding the hotel/motel tax.

"Mr. Bagiel, who does that money belong to?" Councilman Todd Klein asked.

"Well that money belongs to the city. It's revenue as you know comes from visitors to Lubbock who stay in area hotels. But as I mentioned, it's a dedicated tax that can only be spent on certain things, such as a visitor center," Justin Bagiel said.

Others spoke out against the proposed $6.7 million visitor center and Gateway Park.

One citizen said, "It's not that we're against a visitor center, it's the price tag I can't justify it."

"I believe the expenditure is way over the top," added another citizen.

"I support Mr. Klein's idea, of kiosks around town. I believe it would serve our visitors better than brick and mortar," a citizen said.

Mikel Ward said, "I normally come a little more dressed up."

However, Ward says instead she came dressed to represent the "cave people" in Lubbock.

"In a NewsChannel 11 poll last night (Wednesday), the combined was against what you're planning to vote for by 95%," Ward said.

"For your information, us cave people we do vote and we are educated and we disagree with your March 27th," Ward added.

After more than 20 citizens address the city council, the podium was empty.

"For you to be here this early, we're grateful to you," Mayor Miller said.

Again, the Lubbock City Council voted five to two against putting a hold on plans for a new visitor center. So that means, design plans will move forward but they must be within the new budget of $5.9 million.

Viewer Response to Consider This on If You're Against the Visitor's Center, You're Wrong!
Many viewers had comments following Dan Jackson's commentary on Mayor Miller's comments regarding support of the visitor center. Click here to read what they had to say.

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