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In Irving, Candidates Confront Planned Venue's Cost

Irving, here viewed from the Las Colinas Marriott, is facing issues that come along with growth.
Irving, here viewed from the Las Colinas Marriott, is facing issues that come along with growth.

Seven candidates are running for three seats on the Irving City Council. A major issue facing all of them is development.  That includes financing the planned Las Colinas entertainment center. 

Last year, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne upset Herbert Gears campaigning against the entertainment center’s financing deals.  But paying for the $250 million dollar complex remains a question and some voters are frustrated.  Johnie Wooten has lived in Irving 53 years.

 "The City of Irving needs to get its act together and it has for the last eight years," Wooten said.  "There’s a lot of things going on that shouldn’t be.  They’re building a lot of junk that shouldn’t be."

Six of the eight current city council members support a $213 million dollar bond issue to build the entertainment center. Mayor Van Duyne does not.  

She wanted voters to reconsider the center’s financing in Saturday’s election but the council rejected her proposed referendum. Some current council members who support the financing plans have received campaign contributions from people associated with the project.  Community college teacher Alice Butler hopes this election helps the city move forward.

"We have for a long time let decisions be made by a small group of, dare I say it, good ol’ boys," Butler said. " We need to stop some of the foolish decision making and a lot of the foolish spending and we need to listen to people that are fed up with what’s been going on in Irving."

Other voters, like business analyst Shannon Triggs, want city council members to include South Irving in their development plans. 

"A lot of the city planning has gone to the north side and central Irving and everything has moved away from South Irving and it’s been forgotten about," Triggs said. "The entertainment area that was supposed to be where Texas stadium has now gone to defunct and the big plans they had for that for shopping as well as business and different entertainment things would be a big step in the right direction. " 

Now voters are having their say.  Although voter turnout for local elections Saturday is expected to be low, Irving had one the highest early voting turnouts in Dallas County.  

See the Irving League of Women Voters' guide for information on candidates. Find out when, where and how to vote in local elections throughout DFW via KERA's Elections 2012: Resources.