Residents of calavera neighborhood near Asarco uncertain of demolition plans
POSTED: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 6:40pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 6:42pm
EL PASO — Asarco demolition day is nearing, and although most of the plans are finalized, some residents who live near the old smelter still don't know whether they are going to stay or go come April 13.
The tight-knit Calavera neighborhood is at the bottom of a canyon near Executive Center Blvd and Paisano, right below the Asarco smokestacks. It is made up mostly of families of former Asarco employees.
Calavera is Spanish for skull, and the calavera neighborhood is appropriately named for its proximity to the old Smeltertown Cemetery.
Luis Luna has lived in the area for 30 years. His father-in-law worked at Asarco for 38 years before he passed away in March. Luna says his father-in-law often shared fond memories of his time at Asarco, and was sad to know they were coming down.
"It's a little sad because its like a monument, like a landmark in El Paso," said Luna.
Luna still is not sure if he will be home to watch the demolition because he said he hasn't been told where he can stay, or for how long. Other residents in the neighborhood said they heard they would be put up in a hotel, but were waiting to hear more.
Asarco Site Trustee Roberto Puga said no one will be forced to leave their home, but it will be an option.
Puga scheduled a meeting with residents Wednesday afternoon to discuss the details.
In spite of the uncertainty, and concerns that the demolition could release dangerous toxins, Luna said he is not worried.
"In reality, I'm not scared because they say all this poison comes from there, but I've lived here 30 years, my mother in law 38 years and my father in law worked there 38 years and were all fine," said Luna.