Mayor Karl Dean’s Amp Citizens Advisory Committee met for the first time on Tuesday. The group of supporters and detractors appointed by the mayor is intended to help placate the worries of critics.
Mayor Dean assembled the team of rivals an effort for the project’s next phase to be less turbulent than the previous — which was marked by Dean backpedaling on parts of the Amp’s design and barely escaping an attack by state lawmakers to outlaw the project.
Dean gave brief remarks about the project needing the input of divergent voices to help find middle ground before he left for another event.
Some form of the bus line has been in the works for six years, but city leaders started in earnest on the Amp about two years ago. Over that time, transit planners say they have held dozens of open-mic community meetings. None of those discussions, however, brought the opponents with political sway (and a concerted protest campaign) directly to the table.
Car dealer and Amp critic Lee Beaman, attorney Dianne Neal and real estate manager Richard Fulton Jr. are among the 25-members who will gather monthly for public meetings at the downtown library.
Those three handed every member of the committee a list of demands — among them, a request for all the Amp documents city officials have sent to the federal government. They’re also asking to see how taxpayer money was used to pay for public relations and lobbying for the Amp.
There wasn’t a great reaction to the list of the demands. The low-key meeting instead focused on the framework for discussion going forward.
Committee member Robert Hartline, who owns several cell phone businesses along the Amp’s proposed route, says “the major concern is how this will impact sales along West End.”
Amp spokeswoman Holly McCall says the Amp’s final design is still being worked out.
I would be shocked if it doesn’t shift the outcome some, but we’re going into it with an open mind and not trying to predict what’s going to happen.
Though it’s pretty late in the game, McCall says having project planners hear from critics can help smooth out some of the tension.