Mayor Muses 2017 Goals
"Downtown puzzle," music initiative among his priorities
Like many Austinites, City Council is unofficially on holiday hiatus – the next meeting is a Jan. 6 ceremonial swearing-in of the new (Jimmy Flannigan, Alison Alter) and re-elected council members (Delia Garza, Greg Casar, Leslie Pool) and election of a mayor pro tem (most likely, again, longest-serving incumbent Kathie Tovo). The next regular meeting is Jan. 26.
But Council has "workshop/retreats" on tap for Jan. 11 and 12, and Mayor Steve Adler isn't letting the grass grow (or the falling leaves accumulate) under Council's feet. He's posted a couple of lengthy memos on the council message board (austincouncilforum.org) updating his colleagues on plans for the new year that he hopes to address in the workshops.
On Thursday, Dec. 22, the mayor posted a lengthy memo titled "Possible solution to the downtown puzzle," listing roughly a dozen possible approaches to various problems in the Downtown neighborhoods. While saying he will continue to emphasize "mobility and affordability" and their connections in 2017, he also wants to address "homelessness ... and other interconnected economic, cultural, and safety aspects that relate to the ARCH, the Waller Creek linear park, the Innovation Zone (Medical School), the MACC, the local music industry, safety downtown, a possible convention center expansion, and 6th Street between Congress and I-35."
In brief, Adler brainstorms a "comprehensive" approach to funding all these various Downtown-related initiatives, which he sees as "pieces of a puzzle" best considered as a whole. The memo floats various overlapping ideas for tax increment or public improvement district financing, for a potential "comprehensive, integrated vision of one possible way to approach the future of a part of the downtown core and how it might serve as a major engine for preservation and progress."
Without catching his breath, on Dec. 26 the mayor posted another proposal, this one a draft resolution pursuing the Music and Creative Ecosystem initiative previously approved by Council, with $475,000 designated in this year's budget for implementation. Adler's resolution would direct staff to move forward with four elements: 1) a case study for extended venue hours in the Red River Cultural District; 2) $200,000 in "transition funding" for performing arts venues; 3) $75,000 to implement a "Revenue Development Platform"; and 4) $200,000 for "creation of an Entertainment Services Group and the Nightlight Initiative."
While no council member has yet responded directly to the mayor's "downtown puzzle" memo, CM Leslie Pool enthusiastically endorsed the Music and Creative Ecosystem resolution, and offered her support as a co-sponsor.
Expect more details and debate in January.