Arena debate continues
El Pasoans familiar with community leadership during the latter half of the 20th century already know that the disinvestment strategy does not work. Unfortunately, it appears that as our community is finally on the cusp of competing with peer cities, a majority of our City Council again endorse the idea of disinvestment as an economic development strategy.
In 2012, over 75% of the 153,611 voters supported the building of a multipurpose center. Disturbingly, at the first City Council meeting of the year, the majority of voting City Council members voted to abandon its Downtown arena plans. The runoff winners voting to abandon the arena had a total of 2,885 votes in their runoff election victories.
The Council was presented with a plan that would do the following:
• Incorporate 12 neighborhood structures, including all seven that have been deemed eligible for historic designation by the El Paso County historic survey
• Not displace the two residents in the area
• And build out a multipurpose complex in the area within the voter approved 2012 bond budget
Incredibly, four representatives balked at the proposal.
I hope that those voting to abandon the project are seeking funding commitments from Houston resident J.P. Bryan – who handsomely contributed to the political campaigns of many of arena opponents – and Max Grossman so that the neighborhood soon meets their standards for our community.
– Octavio Gomez
City Council was presented with a hybrid plan for a multipurpose center within a redeveloped Duranguito last Tuesday. The plan, also known as the Gensler Plan, would have provided a true hybrid compromise capable of salvaging the neighborhood’s unique, culturally significant history while breathing new life into the area. Unfortunately, the majority of the Council decided to scrap the project mere moments after it was presented rather than allow the community the opportunity to see this alternative.
Critical decisions like these need input from the community, and there was no time to garner a response. Engagement from the community is imperative in deciding our future, and rushed votes do not allow for full participation. That is, after all, how we ended up here to begin with.
Regardless of whether this plan or the next comes to fruition, we must take steps to continue progress. Time is of the essence to continue the momentum we have seen over the last four years.
City Council must be held accountable to replace the opportunity taken away. We must develop a mindset of progress – one that demands forward-thinking. El Paso deserves it.
– Andrea Hutchins
CEO, El Paso Chamber
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