Some downtown businesses team up against Prop-D

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Some downtown Wichita Falls merchants told Newschannel 6, on Tuesday, Proposition-D could hurt their businesses if it passes. It is a $77 million project to build a new Municipal Government Center would be built in the city's downtown that would house City Hall, Wichita Falls Police Department and Wichita Falls Fire Department.

There are three proposed locations for the building. One of the proposed buildings would be located from Scott and Ohio streets and 5th and 3rd streets which is the location that was displayed on the renderings the city released early March. There are 16 businesses located on those four blocks.

If the bond is approved, then those businesses would be bought by the city at a fair market value using eminent domain.

The business owners said they do not want to relocate so they teamed up to urge people to vote against the bill.

"If I was to have to move, it would be an astronomical move for me being there 37 years," Larry Ward owner of Ward's Automotive Repairs on the 400 block of Indiana Street said. "If I found someplace I can set up on a little smaller operation, I would do that. I just hope I don't have to do that."

"We're putting people out of work," Nicole Staelens owner of Pinnacle Remodeling on the 400 block of Scott Ave said. "We're not bringing any new people into the city. It's not actually addressing any of the issues the city has that includes water distribution, that includes any of the issues we're having with the local economy."

"The problem with market value is it would be just a fraction of what it would cost to move somewhere else. My building is paid for, I don't pay any rent and I like it that way."

Henry Florsheim, CEO of the city's Chamber of Commerce, said it would be the biggest downtown project the city has ever see, it would help revitalize downtown and boost the economy of the city having 500 people work in the area.

"In its current location where its planned would create a bridge between the MPEC and the Coliseum and the downtown core," Florsheim said. "[With that built], now you've got an area that's redeveloped and cause a bigger district to grow."

Kevin Parks, the owner of Parks Produce Company located on the 400 block of Indiana Ave, said the city council should look at other locations that won't affect business owners.

"The Joe Pistacco area that is vacant," Parks said. "There's nothing there that I'm aware of and I hope everyone else that is voting thinks that way too."

Mayor Stephen Santella told Newschannel 6 during Monday's with the Mayor that a location would not be chosen until it is approved.

Wichita Falls residents will vote on Prop-D and other propositions, that could end up being worth a total of $131 million, on May 5.

If the bond fails, city council will vote on whether or not to renovate the memorial auditorium, an estimated $30 million.

Staelens created a petition to motivate the public to vote against Prop-D.

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