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Council approves contracts to help bring Formula 1 to Austin

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 by Austin Monitor

In their second big vote of the day, the Austin City Council this afternoon approved three resolutions related to locating the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 event in southeast Travis County. Council Members Kathie Tovo—who opposed city involvement in F1 throughout her recent campaign—and Laura Morrison opposed it.


Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole said the final question for the Council was, “On balance, is this agreement in the best interest of the city?” Those opposing the event were hoping to sway Cole to their side. But once she was assured that the city would not be investing in the project, her vote was not in doubt.


“I think it is a huge benefit to the city and will provide funds for services…for the city,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. He said because of the work of Council Member Chris Riley, the event will be a “gold standard” for environmental controls. “What we have now is a purely upside potential, no downside potential,” Leffingwell concluded.   


Riley, who does not own a car, said the city is faced with growing needs and tax burdens. “When thousands of people from around the world say we want to come and spend money in your city,” the Council must listen, he said. However, he added, the city needs to be very careful not to agree to projects that diminish local air quality since Austin is close to violating federal standards.


Riley worked with representatives of environmental groups as well as city staff for many hours to come up with a plan to lower emissions and establish green technology testing at the site.


Morrison quoted Austin Sen. Kirk Watson, who said the state’s $25 million per year was going to the wrong place, in her remarks opposing the motion for the project.

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