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Sen. Rodríguez’s Remarks to City Council on Proposed Multipurpose Arena

The following is the text of the statement read during public comment at Tuesday morning’s El Paso City Council meeting on behalf of state Sen. José Rodríguez:

The City of El Paso is growing. As it does, we consistently are faced with decisions at every level about how to support the growth, how to encourage it, and how to manage it for the benefit of our residents and newcomers.

One way to do that is through quality-of-life investments. Most recently, municipal voters in 2012 gave the City of El Paso permission to sell bonds for almost $500 million in projects. Included in that were more than $200 million for three signature projects.

Those were the Children’s Museum, Hispanic Cultural center, and a multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility, which was introduced under the heading of “Museum, Cultural, Performing Arts, and Library Facilities.”

El Paso voters gave this permission because they wanted to invest in themselves. I myself was one of them. We wanted quality of life amenities at both the neighborhood level in the form of parks and other amenities, and at the regional level in the form of museums and other cultural facilities.

We still want this. However, we require two things to make it happen the right way.

  • We need to know that these projects will enhance our community, which means respecting the people, places, and history that is so special and unique to El Paso.
  • We need to know that we are getting exactly what we asked for, that there was a process that was consistent, transparent, and inclusive every step of the way.

People did not vote for an arena. They voted for a “multipurpose center” meant for performances and cultural events.

Down to the terms used for the facility, the process has lacked transparency.

The vote to impose the facility on Duranguito was Oct. 18, 2016, only days after a proposed location was announced not by the Mayor or any City Council members but by city staff.

On that day, members of the public were able to see a presentation regarding the site selection for the first time. This presentation was not included as backup on the agenda.  There was conflicting information regarding whether property owners and residents had been contacted, and what they had been told.

There were questions about parking and traffic. There were inconsistent assertions made about efforts to discuss other properties, specifically the railroad; spokesmen for Union Pacific had to clarify incorrect statements made about contacts made with the railroad, and about supposed demands by the railroad for a number of crossings to be closed.

The extent and nature of the facility “footprint” itself, and the impact on surrounding areas has not been clear throughout the process. Neither has the question of federal beautification monies put into the neighborhood not for economic development, but for the residents themselves.

And importantly, there is the question of respect for history. That has been particularly concerning to me. Both the major bodies set up to help restore, protect, and nurture El Paso’s historic neighborhoods voted to oppose the location, as did the City Plan Commission, and the city itself in 1998 called for detailed study and long-term preservation. Yet, the city is moving towards the destruction of an irreplaceable piece of the “First Ward,” part of the first Anson Mills plat map of 1859.

These questions pile on top of the original question – the nature of the facility City Council put forth and the voters approved – and are of such deep concern that I am in support of whatever means may be necessary to stop an irreversible action that will wipe out history and community.

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11 comments

  1. Anyone with a decent intelligent mind would favor a multipurpose arena at the Union Plaza location site; the reasons is self explanatory! It really don’t have to do with history because what kind of history do you consider an old Brothel Whorehouse or a Chinese Laundry to be? Surely nothing worth saving if we consider the deplorable condition of the neighborhood itself.The buildings are mostly dilapidated eyesores with broken windows being replaced by plywood and the cracked walls on the buildings and few homes. Not to mention that the area becomes crime infested after the sun goes down and no tourist would ever dare venture there in that Durangito armpit neighborhood.
    Might as well move on and build something of great proportion like a new downtown arena,multi culture complex so I don’t think that senator Jose Rodriguez really has his own pulse on the city of El Paso.
    By favoring the needs of only the very few people that don’t want to get out of the way, by this what I mean is that they are living right next door to a convention center. Wouldn’t it had ever come across to them that someday things were going to start changing and that they all stood in the way of progress.
    That is what is happening now, with their reluctance and their stubbornness to move to what might end up being a better place.
    There is no other place in downtown El Paso for a good quality of life downtown arena but over at the Union Plaza location. Max Grossman gave the area the name Durangito! and that was only to incite and rally the opposition protesters that come from the Segundo Barrio.
    We the people of El Paso need to make our downtown a better place for all to enjoy and not cave into the demands those that live in poverty only because they enjoy living in those type of conditions. How Sad!
    If these people would wake up someday and smell the coffee! they too could contribute in a positive way back to the community but for now they should start packing up and getting ready to move.
    You first start by moving out of the Old Barrio and into a better home with No Cucarachas, mouses,or bed bugs.

    • Why would anyone listen to someone like Alberto about complex issues when he’s ignorant of basic English grammar? Never mind the stereotypes about the barrio.
      “Anyone with a decent intelligent mind would favor a multipurpose arena at the Union Plaza location site; the reasons is self explanatory! It really don’t have to do with history because what kind of history do you consider an old Brothel Whorehouse or a Chinese Laundry to be?”

      • Why would anyone listen to an ignorant comment from someone by the name of Manny? Manny must be an English teacher wannabe or just some pendejo grading my grammar on the El Paso Herald Post. He does have one follower that think’s I’m a white boy! that is two stupids talking talking pendejadas to each other. Manny and what’s her face white girl Leslie Grey.

  2. Alberto is a dumba$$, and has no clue about what he is talking about. A million dollars says hes white and priviledged LOL

  3. I’ve lived in El Paso all my life and until the downtown arena debate began, I had never even heard of “Duranguito”.
    To call a bunch of tenements “historical ” is a joke. When was the last time you drove an out of town visitor through there?

    • That was the former Texas Historian Commissioner, Max Grossman who distinctly renamed the Union Plaza downtown arena footprint to Durangito! I’m glad that El Paso County fired him along with his sidekick what’s his face Bernie whatever. The real reason to rename the Union Plaza Durangito was solely to irritate and incite the people from the Segundo Barrio as they came out in protest at all city council meetings. I totally agree with you Carlos, to call the Union Plaza a name like Durangito is most deplorable and an insult to all El Paso. No tourist or regular El Pasoans would ever dare venture there to see dilapidated blighted eyesores, which the area is crime ridden after sunset,Durangito/Union Plaza is the armpit of downtown El Paso and it’s time to see it go away for good.
      As I mentioned before the people from the Segundo Barrio also protested the creation of Southwest University Park Stadium! And look what that stadium has done for our great community and the popularity is has brought to El Paso.
      Time to build the downtown arena and without further delay just as long as the city builds it over the at Union Plaza location.

  4. Duranguito?
    Historical?
    Really?
    Is this neighborhood really part of a tour of downtown?
    Is this what El Paso had to offer?
    I think the real fury is that there is no other place to find s $300 a month apartment…..out with the old, in with the new

    • I totally agree with you Norma! I yet to see what only a very few people see in this armpit called Durangito? cheap rent, free welfare checks and $500. worth of monthly food stamps.
      A downtown arena will be way better for all El Pasoans and the future of our cities youth just like Southwest University Park Stadium is bringing more fame to our Great City in a positive way.

  5. Alberto sucks

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