Brazos River Partnership asks you to share your vision

By · November 18, 2008 · Filed in 1000 Friends

Today’s featured video presents a unique and transformative vision for part of the Greater Downtown area.  The Brazos River Partnership has shared their vision for the future that we unite as a community to transform Waco into an even greater city. 

I hope their dream has stimulated your interest in what can be and inspired you to get involved in making our city a better place as it has me.

Please register as one of the 1000 Friends of Waco and share your wishes, dreams and comments relative to this visualization as we endeavor together to realize our dreams as a community.


Congratulations, Rick Sheldon and team. I just watched your presentation. It’s tremendous. I wish you every success. Best wishes, Jeff Bowden

It is amazing and almost spooky that all the while you have been planning Waco’s future, I have been doing the same thing with almost the same exact ideas..stadium, boutique hotels, zoo expansion, marinas, etc….I even had my new Baylor Stadium in the same location as yours and I projected a light rail or trolley system on both sides of the river going from BU, downtown, Cameron Park, MCC, cross the river and back to the Elm Street development, the developments, the new Baylor Stadium, the Lake Brazos dam
and back across to the Baylor area development.

The projects I have envisioned in addition to your excellent plan are (1) a major downtown sports park (AA-AAA baseball park, a downtown arena [capacity 15K], a state of the art indoor/outdoor tennis complex with a center court similar to the one in Indian Springs, Ca. (smaller but expandable), (2) a top notch planetarium, (3) a world class aquarium adjacent to the zoo, (4) a major Waco-McLennan County library complex, (5) expanded convention center complex named after Bill Meadows/Harley H Spoon (the first managers of the original convention center), (5) an arts/natural history/ethnic museum district near to and around the Grand Lodge of Texas, (6) a major performing arts/music hall, theater complex (similar to the one at Colorado Springs), (6) extensive landscaping of the downtown streets and sidewalks, (7) a 200 foot tall bell tower on the city hall grounds, (8) a Salado style art, antique, restaurant, bed and breakfast district in a downtown or near downtown area, (9) a total revitalization of Cameron Park (new roads, clean-up, etc.), and a world class observatory someplace in Cameron Park (similar to the Griffin Park Observatory in Los Angeles).

In addition, I propose a downtown free bus system (coordinated with the Brazos River Corridor light rail or trolley system and the comprehensive Greater Waco Transit System) similar to the Austin Armadillo to tie the whole downtown world together for business and tourism. Naturally, I have gone a little beyond what some would consider reality. But I am an optimist. Pessimism is not part of my thinking processes. If one can’t think or dream big, one need not think or dream at all. There are no real limits to reality that humanity cannot stretch with the right mindset. I would rather do nothing than to do something half way.

Certainly some of these projects will have to be near term, short term and long term given the state of the current national and world economy but I applaud you for thinking out of the box. Nothing ever happens if there are no dreams. Dreams do come true and you are right: Waco deserves to be the best Waco it can be. It has been sucking hind nipple for way too long.

One more thing. I think we have to think outside the box regarding the funding of these great ideas and projects. There are unbelievably more sources for money than we can imagine, even in this economy. There are so many people worldwide who have more money than they can spend in twenty lifetimes who would love to have their names on one or the other of the above venues if the notion was presented properly to them. Maybe an internal task force could be put together to come up with out of the box ways and means to proffer and fund these projects, one person or one naming opportunity at a time, until it has all been done and Waco has been transformed into the place it should have been for so long. I am a strong proponent of the notion of endowments and trusts as a mechanism for permanent financing and operations of the various projects. For instance, a Comprehensive Parks and Recreations Trust (including the sports park, arena, tennis complex, etc.), a Permanent Street, Street light, Underground Utility and Sidewalk Trust, A Permanent Arts, Library & Museum Trust, A Permanent Zoo & Aquarium Trust ….you get my drift.

Another one more thing…I proposed to the Chamber of Commerce sometime ago a Walk of Fame or a Hall of Fame venue to acknowledge the significant people who have had connections by birth, residence, etc., to Waco. So many major names have been a part of Waco and Waco has been a part of them. Writers, musicians, politicians, military leaders, soldiers, intellects, movie stars, athletes and so many others who deserve recognition for the lives they have led and the contributions they have made in so many areas of life. Willie Nelson, Hank Thompson, Bob Wills, Jules Bledsoe, Billy Walker, Billy Williams, C. Wright Mills, T. Barry Brazelton, Leon Jaworski, Governor Ann Richards, Bob Bullock, Gov. Mark White, Sen. Tom Connally, Jennifer Hewitt Love, Sandra Dee, Jerimy Wariner, Michael Johnson, Michael Singletary, Pat Neff…the list goes on and on and on. With all of the plans and hopes and dreams so many of us have regarding Waco’s future, we can surely create a venue by which to note those who have made Waco proud or, if they were recognized, would give Wacoans more reasons to be proud of our heritage, not to mention the tourist attraction such a venue could be.

I could go on but let me leave room for others who care about the future of Waco.

Thank you for your forward thinking and your courage to put your money and your efforts where your mouth is. Thank you for the opportunity to express my views.

Harley Spoon

Great Ideas! thanks for your comments Harley.

Mr. Sheldon,

An absolutely great vision and presentation. I hope somewhere along theway that the bridges between the I-35 Signature Bridge and the Suspension Bridge could be raised, lowered or relocated.(Or, perhapsthe Suspension brige could be relocated closer to the I-35 bridge).

It would be great to have an unobstructed view of the Suspension Bridge from the I-35 Signature Bridge as you pass through Waco.


I must say that I’ve not been more proud to be a Wacoan as I’ve been this last week. Between this new vision for Downtown and last week’s Education Summit, I believe the possibilities during the next decade are endless if we truly work toward many of these goals.

Regarding ideas for downtown, I suggest taking a look at the work done to revitalize other water-oriented cities, such as Providence, Rhode Island, Baltimore, Maryland, Nashville, Tennessee, and San Antonio, Texas. I think these cities have some great assets that could be adapted for use in Waco.

Providence, for example, has a multi-story mall with garage parking that is oriented to the river. They also have fire pits along the river that are lit occasionally, attracting visitors to stay and hang out. Both Providence and San Antonio have tourist-directed water traffic as well.

Baltimore has maximized its water orientation with the Inner Harbor development, which now includes shopping, destination restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe and ESPN Zone, water taxis, paddle boats, and a world-class aquarium.

Nashville, too, has the destination restaurants like Baltimore, and adds a great indoor farmer’s market, which remains open year-round.

One element that is present in all these cities that could be easily adapted here is public art. These things all help to improve the image of downtown, and promote pedestrian traffic.

Thanks again for all you’re doing to improve this city!

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