Dallas council delays vote on controversial proposed soccer fields under elevated downtown freeway

Dallas City Councilmembers on Wednesday delayed a vote on a proposed set of soccer fields under an elevated highway in downtown Dallas after questions over the no-bid contract involved.

The son of State Sen. Royce West, who has no construction experience, wants to build the fields underneath Interstate 345, located between Interstate 30 and Woodall Rodgers.

Roddrick West needed city council approval to get the project done. But numerous councilmembers questioned why the proposal was being rushed and how Roderick’s proposal has gotten as far as it has.

Adding to their concern, Sen. West has been a vocal critic of another proposal, which would remove the elevated interstate in favor of ground-level roads or a tunnel. Sen. West insists he’s not influencing the plans between his son and TxDOT.

“It is so clearly insider deal about power, money and influence, I don't even know why we are considering it,” said councilwoman Cara Mendelson. “That we would actually have a discussion about awarding at no-bid TxDOT contract to son of senator who sits on a committee that oversees TxDOT, who has never developed anything like this before, I just can’t wrap my head around it.”

Adding to the frustration of the council was that the controversial project was tied to two other more popular proposals: signoffs on construction for Carpenter Park on the far east side of downtown and additional parking to serve Deep Ellum.

Councilmembers were told if they delayed the vote on the soccer fields, they would have to delay all three projects until the end of August.

“It is a shame Carpenter Park is a hostage on this when it’s clear everyone supports it,” said councilwoman Paula Blackmon.

Since Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has been emphasizing a Dallas-first model when it comes to awarding contracts, one councilman asked Roddrick West if he lives in Dallas. He said yes, but when asked if that is what his driver's license showed, he said that he in the process of updating his address from DeSoto to downtown Dallas.

RELATED: Dallas City Council considers plan for soccer fields under downtown elevated highway