Photo courtesy Familias Unidas del Chamizal / Facebook

Chamizal, Segundo Barrio Residents Set to Protest EPISD’s Bus Hub Decision

Community members, students and concerned residents are set to protest a decision by El Paso ISD to put the district’s bus hub on the historic South El Paso campus.

Familias Unidas del Chamizal (Chamizal Families United) announced the rally against the installation of the bus hub at Bowie High School, at San Marcial & Paisano Street for 4 pm on Tuesday, May 1st.

Organizers say that EPISD has “made a decision to establish its central operations hub with more than 120 school buses, butane and gasoline station and repair center at Bowie High School.”

Via a news release, they add that, “Bowie High School students are already disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous pollutants emitted by maquila semi-trucks and international bridge traffic.”

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, on behalf of Familias Unidas del Chamizal members have filed a Civil Rights Title VI complaint to stop the construction of the bus hub. They contend that, “In El Paso, no other school has a transportation center on their campus.”

The groups further contends that “EPISD did not conduct the proper impact study, they have hired contractors to begin the destruction of the 1949 Bowie High School state champions historic baseball field, to replace it with the facility.”

The group’s news release adds:

According to the City, their ordinance does not permit a transportation facility, as proposed by EPISD,  inside the Bowie campus’ property, next to the football and practice field. However, EPISD claims that it is exempt from all regulations because of a state law.

Families United goes on to say, “It is our view that they are misinterpreting the state law because exemptions are granted only if it furthers education and does not endanger the public health of the students. Why has the state granted an exemption that puts the health and security of our student in danger?”

Earlier this month, the EPISD Board of Trustees approved the contract for the construction of the bus hub at Bowie.  The funds will come from a 2007 bond, which had initially allocated just over $5 million for the project; but now will cost closer to $11 million.

At the time of the contract award, district officials told several media outlets that they had not received a copy of the complaint, but maintained that it was not a ‘discriminatory issue’ as there were three other hubs spread throughout the city.

According to the group, Bowie students are asking that – instead of the bus barn – the district build “an innovative green cultural arts learning center that would address the existing academic problems, preserve the green area, the history of the 1949 baseball team, and other important history of the Bowie alumni.”

WHAT: Rally Against the Bus Hub at Bowie

WHEN: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 4pm

WHERE: In front of Bowie High School, San Marcial & Paisano Street