Harris County Judge Ed Emmett's proposal to turn the Astrodome into "the world's largest indoor park" and recreation area is definitely feasible, a local architect said Wednesday, but also one whose fate - and cost - will be dictated by the details.
Long on vision, short on specifics. One of the more amusing toss-offs from the judge included a horseshoe pit.
The county's top elected official did not present any blueprints or renderings on Tuesday, but discussed a loose concept for an evolving air-conditioned facility that he said could host festivals and other community gatherings, general exercise facilities, hike and bike trails on the upper levels, an amphitheater, a pavilion for concerts and other events, museums and special educational facilities for children. The county-owned Dome also could house sports facilities, such as an archery range or horseshoe pits, he said.
He acknowledged the proposal was open-ended and did not include a cost estimate or funding plan, the lack of which has been his major criticism of previous proposals to redevelop the stadium.
"It has been suggested that it might be better to wait until we have a fully detailed plan to roll this out," Emmett said. "However, I believe it's important to lay out the vision, and like Judge Hofheinz, call upon experts and the public to help implement that vision."
I have to say that considering what a poor job Emmett did of selling his last proposal, to hold a press conference on the floor of the un-airconditioned Astrodome to tout a vision and nothing more seems a little... well, egotistical on his part. He's thinks he's leading but nobody is following.
As you might suspect, the GNOP is irate about the fact that what (they thought) they voted for last November isn't happening. There are over 500 comments on the original story, most of them screeching "tear it down". The county's chief executive officer -- the one they have elected a couple of times now -- just isn't going to let that happen on his watch.
Now if you want to read some really hilarious backbiting from inside the local conservative caucus, Big Jolly manages to work in a wide variety of snipes not only against Emmett but also Houston's homeless, the Occupy movement, "gangs" taking over skybox suites and even Annise Parker (to be fair, you duly earned that one, Madam Mayor).
As I commented at BJ's place, maybe the Republicans upset with the judge could send a message to Emmett by voting for the only challenger he has on November's ballot, Green David Collins. (You can read Texpate's Q&A with Collins here.) Can you imagine the sturm und drang if the Pachyderms were to call the county judge's office and declare, as longtime GOP primary participants, they were going to vote Green in November?
Perhaps a step too far to the left for them to contemplate, I grant you. What if they simply told the new chair of the Harris County Republican Party that they would NOT vote a straight ticket? God forbid, selecting straight Republican on their e-Slates but un-selecting Judge Emmett's box?
This is revolution we're talking here. Frankly though, we all know that the conservatives simply don't have this much courage within them. They'll put on a tricorn hat and carry a misspelled sign -- "Libety or Tranny" is this year's best -- but actual revolt at the ballot box? Nope.
They're brave enough to parade around with their long guns in River Oaks but not in the Fifth Ward. Voting against a Republican is just far more unpatriotic in their view than a corporate tax inversion.
As for me, I'm in favor of whatever keeps the old girl standing in some form or fashion. The more of her standing, the better. If Emmett is serious about saving the building, then he'll have to quickly rustle up a handful of deep-pocketed angels. That's something every single other Dome "reimagining" over the past fifteen or so years has lacked, just as this one does.
Charles assembled some of the more upbeat preliminary reactions. We're back in "wait-and-see" mode, probably until after the holidays (Emmett would be a much bigger fool than I have long suspected should he keep on talking about this). That is, unless some Dome lover hits the Powerball and gives all of the winnings to the county to fix her up in grand style.
Do you think the judge is buying lottery tickets with taxpayer money?