EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – When given the option to suspend the Downtown arena planned for the Duranguito neighborhood, the El Paso City Council voted against it Tuesday morning.
City Reps. Alexsandra Annello and Claudia Rodriguez brought the item to council which was ultimately shut down.
“We tried to clarify that there is no action being taken on construction projects at this time. We recognize the financial hit to our community, especially our unemployment which is why I consider this a blatantly political item that’s unnecessary,” Mayor Dee Margo said.
The item was to suspend the Multi-Purpose Center (MPC), otherwise known as the proposed Downtown arena, and the Mexican American Cultural Center.
The City Reps. who placed the item on the agenda said they wanted to present some options after council approved pay cuts and furloughs for some city employees on Monday.
“We’ve been making a lot of difficult decisions in order to save money and cut costs and it seems very unfortunate that the very obvious one we’re choosing to ignore. The reasons? I don’t know but it’s unfortunate but at least the record is showing what our decision today will be,” Rep. Rodriguez shared.
Council voted 6-2 against suspending the arena, Annello and Rodriguez voting in favor, which means the plans to eventually build the arena continue pending litigation.
“I wish we had heard from our colleagues this much when it came to the livelihoods of our employees and I think that voting no on this, it really does show the 400 people that were furloughed yesterday that these projects are more important than them,” Rep. Annello said.
Mayor Margo reiterated there is currently no money being spent on the project, and said getting El Paso’s economy back on track is the City’s priority at the moment, “We have a lot of other priorities to deal with, such as starting our economy back so that we can re-employ and get to point where we don’t have to furlough people. That’s our priority. We spent no money on this, and frankly I want to find out if there really are Apaches there.”
City Attorney Karla Nieman said the arena project still has 2 pending lawsuits, and is in active litigation.
In other items council decided:
- For the City Manager and staff to exhaust all efforts and find a way to keep Butterfield Golf Course open.
- Postponement of proposal for city to terminate deal with Kemper Sports, the organization running the golf course.