Downtown WF remains top priority despite Prop. G fail

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - On May 18-20 wrestling fans from all over the world will gather in Wichita Falls for a handful of events including Wrestling Under the Stars, a banquet, and a hall of fame induction ceremony.

"It's the highlight of the year in professional wrestling," Head of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, Johnny Mantell said. "And as more people know about that and come to see it and be involved, it's just going to continue to grow and get bigger and bigger."

The weekend prior many Texomans gathered in that same downtown for another successful Cajun Festival.

Events like these are just one reason why many still believe in downtown, even after Proposition G to streetscape the district failed.

"When we first moved down here in 2016 there wasn't a lot going on," Mantell said. "Especially Saturday's and Sunday's. It was like the sidewalks were rolled up."

Mantell said just since his business moved there two years ago, he's seen downtown turn into a hotspot.

That's why mayor Stephen Santellana isn't giving up on it.

"Downtown has just been on fire," Mayor Santellana said. "I keep calling it a huge win for the citizens of Wichita Falls, which I think it is. It's great to see what's going on down there."

He said downtown development and economic development are the city's number one and number two strategic goals.

That's why they will still pour nearly half a million dollars a year into downtown and use some downtown paving money to fix the sidewalks, light poles, and water and sewer lines.

"It didn't snuff on our fire," Mayor Santellana said. "It kind of slowed things down. But we're still going to have to get some infrastructure done."

They will also work with Downtown Development to come up with more ideas to enhance the area.

Why? Because they believe in it.

"Ten to one I hear positive things about downtown," Mayor Santellana said. "And usually the one is somebody that doesn't go down there and give it a chance. But great things are happening and there is absolutely nothing that can stop that momentum."

Mayor Santellana said it's too early to tell if the city will consider another downtown bond proposal.

But he said he told me he'd like to have a separate bond election just for downtown with some better planning and a better timeline.

Either way, he said the project will get done.

Mayor Santellana said he doesn't want to raise taxes in 2018-2019 just to make downtown improvements.

He would rather find it in their budget by shifting some city money around.

He said with six of seven propositions failing, it's too early to tell if they will have to raise taxes.

But he added they will try to hold them at bay for the third straight year.

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