Beth Wiedower stands on a patch of Astrodome turf that covers the floor of a 26-foot mobile truck, listening to two men reminisce about their visits to the stadium. The men are just two of many visitors who have stopped by the Dome Mobile since Oct. 21 to share their memories of the Astrodome. Wiedower, senior field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has spent the last week and a half driving around Houston in the truck visiting with Harris County residents in an effort to raise awareness about the Nov. 5 election that will determine the future of the Astrodome.
"It's a roving information center," Wiedower said. "We are here to educate Harris County voters about Proposition 2 and the plan to reuse the Dome and encourage their support."
The truck is making daily stops around Houston and Harris County until Election Day, allowing people to come aboard the vehicle that is wrapped on the inside and outside with vinyl. One wall features eight reasons to save the Astrodome, and the other is filled with signatures and stories from visitors sharing their memories about the Dome.
"We have hundreds of signatures and memories here on our story wall," Wiedower said. "Some are very poignant, while some are very fun. For those who didn't get to experience the Astrodome, they're telling us why we should save it."
Visitors can also find educational literature on Proposition 2, activity books for children, bumper stickers, temporary tattoos and rally towels inside the interactive truck.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation partnered with four other nonprofits—Houston MOD, Preservation Houston, the American Institute of Architects Houston chapter and Houston Arts and Media—to launch the Dome Mobile.
"When Preservation Houston called us and told us about this issue they've been working on for a dozen years, we said this is something that is nationally significant," Wiedower said. "Not only is the structure itself important because it was the first of its kind in the world and was a model for so many other stadiums, but we're also looking at this from a national standpoint as being a model for other cities."
If approved by voters, Proposition 2 will allow Harris County to issue up to $217 million in bonds to finance the redesign and redevelopment of the Astrodome as a multipurpose special events center. A future property tax increase—$8 for a home valued at $200,000—will be necessary, according to county officials.
"If we can demonstrate there is a viable reuse [for the Astrodome] that will pay for itself and bring in additional revenue to a county, we can take that out across the country and say if we can do it in Houston, we can do it anywhere," Wiedower said.
To see a list of stops, visit www.causes.com/posts/832956-join-us-at-the-dome-mobile.