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Panel Could Determine Fate Of Astrodome

Harris County could get a better idea in a few weeks of just how feasible a plan to turn the Houston Astrodome a giant indoor park is.

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The 10-member advisory panel will arrive in Houston Dec. 14 and spend five days interviewing close to 100 local Dome stakeholders. The idea is to get an objective, outside point of view from experts who have dealt with similar issues in other big cities. Tom Eitler with the Urban Land Institute assembled the panel.

“We’re a little different than hiring a consultant in that the folks are going to trust us to give them strategic advice however helpful or painful that might be, but we’re not obligated to come to a certain conclusion that the sponsor may want,” Eitler said.

The indoor park idea was floated by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett earlier this year. Eitler says Harris County won’t have to wait long for the panel’s recommendations.

“The panel will actually write their recommendations while they’re on site and make a presentation that summarizes that,” he said. “On Friday [Dec.] 19, you will have the answer, at last from our perspective, what is the right direction to go in.”

Eitler says if the panel agrees that an indoor park is a good idea, it will also offer implementation advice on how to move the project forward.

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