Voters reject Astrodome proposal

Harris County voters rejected a proposal Nov. 5 to repurpose the iconic Astrodome into a multipurpose special events center.

Forty-seven percent of voters were in favor of the proposal, while 53 percent voted against it.

Proposition 2 would have allowed the county to issue up to $217 million in bonds to finance the redesign and redevelopment of the Astrodome as a space for community and sporting events, festivals and conferences. The proposal required a tax increase of about $8 a year for a house valued at $200,000, according to the county budget office.

A group of nonprofits in Houston and Harris County came together earlier this year to form the Save the Dome coalition, which worked to educate voters about Proposition 2 in an attempt to save the building from potential demolition in the months and weeks leading up the election.

"We had a very positive response from voters we talked to, so we are disappointed," said Beth Wiedower, senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of the nonprofits involved with the coalition. "We are sad to lose this great icon. I know a lot of folks were surprised that Harris County voters and Houstonians didn't turn out in higher numbers to support the Dome."

The final decision on how to proceed with the Dome, which has remained unfit for occupancy since 2009, is now up to Harris County Commissioners Court. The governing body voted in August to give voters the opportunity to decide the future of the Astrodome, following the reveal of the proposal by the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation.

"I don't think a lot of voters understood it was their last option," Wiedower said. "There were a lot of plans and ideas submitted in the last four to five years as to what to with the Dome, but we're not sure voters understood the gravity of this vote. It truly is a case of the voters have spoken."

Joint processing center

County residents also voted on Proposition 1, which will allow the county to issue $70 million in bonds to pay for a joint processing center in downtown Houston. Unlike Proposition 2, it does not require a tax increase.

According to unofficial results, 50.9 percent of voters cast their ballot in favor of the measure, while 49.1 percent voted against it.

The facility will be used by both Harris County and the city of Houston to book inmates, discharge inmates and potentially match outgoing inmates with medical or social services in the community that could help them avoid committing other crimes, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Additionally, the new facility would mean offenders arrested by the Houston Police Department will not have to be booked into city facilities and then into county facilities.

By Marie Leonard
Marie came to Community Impact Newspaper in June 2011 after starting her career at a daily newspaper in East Texas. She worked as a reporter and editor for the Cy-Fair edition for nearly 5 years covering Harris County, Cy-Fair ISD, and local development and transportation news. She then moved to The Woodlands edition and covered local politics and development news in the master-planned community before being promoted to managing editor for the South Houston editions in July 2017.