Council's F1 Marathon Meeting (UPDATED)
UPDATE: Shortly after we got this midday update posted, the council members themselves started talking amongst themselves. The final result? There are still too many unanswered questions and too much "draft" language. The #F1 discussion continues June 29 at a special called meeting. Stay tuned for more details.
Formula 1 and the Circuit of the Americas track have taken over City Hall.
The last council meeting on June 9 was dominated by discussion of the city’s contracts and relationships surrounding the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix race at the Circuit of the Americas track being built south of town starting in June of 2012.
Thursday’s city council meeting so far has been the same, and looks to extend late into the evening.
If you were on time for the 10 a.m. meeting (like I was) you probably just squeezed into the council chambers before the fire marshall declared it over capacity. Tons of people were left waiting outside and watching live feeds of the council meeting.
This is what the chambers looked like when I first arrived.
For comparison, when the council suspended the discussion of F1 and the Circuit of the Americas to receive general public comment, this is what the chambers looked like as everyone else fled the scene.
I’ll have a further round up of comments later, but so far the two sides can be summed up as:
Pro F1: Business people, Del Valle residents and racing fans (as well as COTA and F1 bigwigs) talking up the positive economic impacts of the race and their request that the city not do anything to derail the process. As one Del Valle resident said: “we need jobs, and we need them now. In southeast Travis County, we need industry, growth and employment. We need infrastructure to support our community.”
Anti-F1: People who object to Formula 1 because they either don’t think supporting Formula 1 is a positive use of state and city energies when schools and health care are in real danger because of the budget crunch OR they say they have nothing against Formula 1 per se, they just want the decision to be delayed until the contract language is finalized (during the meeting, city staff were still working and reworking drafts), until outside attorneys with auto racing experience review the contracts, until an environmental review and environmental standards are completed and integrated into the deals and both the council and public have had ample time to review these things.
KUT has a good story about how there were 26 people signed up against the deals and 243 people signed up for them, but the pro crowd was getting Formula 1 hats, bumper stickers, water bottles and in some cases paychecks.
Catch the whole thing on Channel 6, where the discussion is ongoing.