Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Plaza Vote--What Should We Learn?

As reporter Jason Hagey observed in The News Tribune today: "Score a half point for the blogosphere."

Downtown's new civic center, the pie-shaped Pacific Plaza, will now officially be renamed Harold M. Tollefson Plaza--a compromise not unlike the one suggested here on Monday. City officials and citizens alike should learn something from the compromise vote last night.

First, we hope that City officials recognize the sea change in public participation. As we've already learned from the Project for Public Spaces workshop in May, Tacomans want to be involved in the renaissance of downtown and find Pacific--er, Tollefson--Plaza to be the iconic center of that rebirth. Some of us remember the public process a few years ago to help develop the Plaza's design, when public input was anemic at best--things have changed.

Kudos to Kevin Freitas--one of the participants in the PPS workshop--for stirring up public interest on this subject. We repeat our earlier suggestion in this space to the City--next time around, use your blog to sample public opinion.

Second, we hope that citizens aroused by this issue stay the course and keep learning. There is a long history and lots of nuances connected with almost every issue of import downtown, and it pays to study history and understand the local municipal process if you want to make positive change. Kudos to Mayor Bill Baarsma for keeping history alive!

Moving forward, we invite City leaders and other citizens to join us in the effort now to "activate" Tollefson Plaza--watch this space for ways to get involved!

1 comment:

  1. DavidS2:06 PM

    "What should we learn?"

    It's important to recognize that the required public notification and comment period is the minimum required for any naming designation.

    By following the process, the City is meeting its minimum requirements. This does not mean people will be satisfied with the process, nor does it mean the City should not strive for a more open and in-depth process when warranted.

    If there is substantial public interest in a discussion, the City should aim to deepen the process and move towards a unified agreement among stakeholders, including the public. This will help in giving all parties a sense of ownership and encourage future participation.

    I think the other question is, "How did the process encourage future public participation and excitement about the space?"

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