Imagine Lubbock Together Unveils Community Report to Supporters and Skeptics
Tuesday night, the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce’s Imagine Lubbock Together initiative presented their Community Report at the Cactus Theater. Almost 200 people attended the event which took just over an hour.
Eight priority areas were discussed at the event: Arts and Culture; Basic and Fundamental Services, essentially utilities, transportation and public safety; Beautification and Image; Downtown Redevelopment; Economic Development; Education; Entertainment and Recreation; and finally Neighborhoods.
For Arts and Culture, the leaders of Imagine Lubbock Together want Lubbock to be the regional center for entertainment and sports. “Step number one, in moving forward, would be to develop a catalytic project for the Arts and will address the (City Bank) Coliseum-Auditorium, a new Equestrian Center as well as a new Performing Arts Center,” which was stated during the presentation.
District 5 Lubbock City Council Representative, Karen Gibson, served on the Steering Committee for Imagine Lubbock Together. She discussed Lubbock’s future energy needs. “We will work to make Lubbock a national leader in long-term energy planning and supply, including renewable resources,” Gibson said. “This is a top priority for Lubbock to not only thrive, but to survive. Our current agreement with Xcel Energy expires in 2019. Options are being explored, including renewing the contract with Xcel or building a city-owned power plant. Implementing this recommendation will promote smart, logical and efficient energy deliver for the foreseeable future and will help the city achieve its goal of 20 percent renewable energy usage by 2020.”
A number of elected officials were at Tuesday’s event, including the aforementioned Council Rep Gibson, along with Lubbock City Councilman Todd Klein, Lubbock City Councilman Jim Gerlt, Lubbock County Commissioner Bill McCay and Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones. Lubbock City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld was also present at the event.
In discussing Downtown Redevelopment, Charlie Wall made the presentation at Tuesday’s event. He talked about the goals from Imagine Lubbock Together, “Expand and grow the cultural arts district. Expand and grow the Depot Entertainment District. Renovate the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center,” Wall said. He continued, “Actively develop downtown housing. Divert Canyon Lakes water for water features throughout downtown and the Canyon Lakes area. Develop and grow entertainment venues and opportunities by supporting festivals in arts and entertainment districts. Finally, the last major step is to strengthen downtown’s retail and restaurant base.”
In the Community Report, eight different new committees and/ or task forces were proposed to be created. These committees or task forces would help push through the projects to be proposed by Imagine Lubbock Together.
While priority areas were discussed, only a few specific projects and no dollar amounts were presented. The specific projects and dollar amounts will be released at a later date.
Imagine Lubbock Together Steering Committee co-Chair Connie Wharton answered some audience questions during a Q&A after the presentation. When asked if Imagine Lubbock Together is an elected board; she answered, “No we are not an elected board. We were appointed by the (Lubbock) Chamber of Commerce.” Wharton went on to explain how the proposed projects from Imagine Lubbock Together will be implemented with partnerships. Those partnerships may be with the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County, any of the eight public school districts located within Lubbock County, non-profit organizations or through private companies and private funding.
There were some skeptics at the event, including Stan Smith, who made some of the signs you see in a photo in this article. Smith told KFYO News, “I think the thing we’re concerned about is just exact how its (Imagine Lubbock Together projects) being funded, and the accountability. Whether this is really the agenda of a few or whether it really represents what the people want.”
Smith continued, “Now I am certainly for progress. But the point is, is that sometimes a lot of things get rammed and crammed and people wake up with a higher tax bill and said, “What the heck?” That’s what I think has some significant suspicion about what is going on. Like I said in one sign, “Imagine Lubbock Broke”.”
As the event drew to a close, Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones asked to make a comment after some skeptics had asked questions of the Imagine Lubbock Together Steering Committee Members. “We need to all stop and just think a minute. Our forefathers for the City of Lubbock and Lubbock County: somebody had to a group together to decide to bring Texas Tech to Lubbock, somebody had to get together to bring the railroads, somebody had to get together to bring Loop 289 in, I-27, Marsha Sharp (Freeway). I could go on and on. There is always diversity in and projects like this. Diversity is good. That’s how you come to these kind of conclusions , how you work together. There’s been lots of diversity discussed tonight with projects they talked about. But we have to stop and remember, and I’m not talking about myself, but yes this is a Chamber appointed group, but the individuals working on this are private citizens, taxpaying citizens, just like all of us, that love and care about Lubbock. And want to see Lubbock ‘move forward’. If you can’t, get out of here,” Jones said.
Applause then filled the Cactus Theater. Jones concluded, “Keep your comments coming. That’s what keeps everybody honest; what keeps accountability in place, the transparency. But then when get some projects, when there are projects that are decided upon, that’s when we all need to get behind them and move forward. It may not be your specific project this time. But it will eventually get there. So, just stay united. Thank you.”
You can listen to Commissioner Jones’ statement right here on KFYO.com
Imagine Lubbock Together Steering Committee co-Chair David Seim joined KFYO News for an extended interview after Tuesday’s event. We will share what he said in a future article.