Regarding the data about the preference of the hotel on the east side or west side, the City's workshops were flawed.
True story, I was there — this happened at my table.
As far as the money the City has spent, you are correct they have spent a lot — $500,000! — much of it on the Steering Committee meetings and workshops. But they still did not listen to how people voted at the workshops, and that was flawed at best. I will explain.
The workshops were to have eight people, who did not know each other, who would listen to Mr. Early from PlaceWorks, who the city hired to speak about the Downtown Plan at both the Steering Committee meetings and the workshops. Afterwards, each table would have 1, ONE, map to fill in where they wanted structures placed. Example, maybe pink for the hotel and green for the parking, etc.
The table I was at had eight people like they asked, and we did not know each other. One gal wanted the hotel on the east side, and the other seven of us, me included, wanted it on the west side. She wouldn't change her mind, and neither would we. After a while we were running out of time and other tables were turning in their maps. So we called for some assistance, which was from a city employee who was there to deliver and gather the maps, and maybe answer a few simple questions. That person let us seven keep our map with the hotel on the west side and gave her, her OWN map.
Bottom line: seven people had one vote as we had one map, one person had one vote as she had her OWN map. So in the tally of maps her one map stood for one person and our one map stood for seven people. Remember each map was one vote.
This may or may not have been the only time this happened, we won't know as there were no names on the maps. But that means it was slightly flawed or more flawed. How many more times could that have happened?
So yes, voting on it with a ballot would be best for the entire town, not just a few.