A vote that could forever change the western slopes of the Franklin Mountains is expected at City Council on Tuesday.
The council could ultimately give the go-ahead for a plan that would clear the way for development of roughly 1,000 acres of land in Northwest El Paso.
The spot, known as the Lost Dog Trailhead is located on both sides of Loop 375, Transmountain Road, past the new hospital.
A group of local land preservationists worry that their beloved hiking spot will get swallowed by the thousands of homes and new businesses proposed for the area.
“I can’t lose this. The trail head. I can’t lose running out here. It means a lot to me to be able to do that,” preservationist Zach Gonzalez told KTSM.
Gonzalez is an avid hiker and enjoys spending his time in the picturesque Franklins. He’s hoping to protect the grounds that mean just more than an open hiking trail.
“It’s just shock and disbelief. Especially for Lost Dog, it’s one of the most beloved trails. It’s been a trail that’s been around for a very long time,” Gonzalez said.
“There’s a lot to be found out in nature. A lot of people who suffer from anxiety disorders or depression will come out here and it’s soothing for them,” he continued.
City Council will take up an agenda item on Tuesday that will discuss the possibility of re-developing the Lost Dog Trailhead near the Cimarron subdivision in Northwest El Paso. The proposed Tax Inventive Revitalization Zone, otherwise known as TIRZ, could mean the loss of the trailhead for good.
On Monday, City Representative Peter Svarzbein was found on the trail, speaking with preservationists and trying to understand more about the area.
“There’s a lot of misinformation going out. One of the main reasons why i’m out here today is because I wanted to better understand this area,” Svarzbein said.
In the last couple of weeks, Svarzbein has held community meetings to discuss the TIRZ with the residents of his district.
“We had a series of community meetings that my office had hosted. I think the city is doing a series this week so I think that with each of these meetings, it’s important because I think it helps better inform exactly on what’s being discussed,” Svarzbein said.
“We’re helping pull the community together but then it points to what Peter said about the education and that the City failed to educate the public,” said Gonzalez.
Only five out of eight council members are needed to vote against the TIRZ on Tuesday, which will save the trailhead — at least for now. If the vote comes to a tie, Mayor Dee Margo would be the final voice.
“I still have some questions about the project and some of the mechanisms there and I want to feel comfortable with it. We need to be able to communicate with each other,” Svarzbein told KTSM.
The City Council meeting begins at 9 a.m. in Council Chambers. Members of the preservationist community are expected to come out in droves to voice their opposition to the TIRZ.
KTSM’s Daniel Marin will have full coverage of Tuesday’s Council meeting coming up at 5 and 6 p.m.