EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Dozens of people showed up to City of El Paso’s public meeting and presentation of the feasibility study that started in May of this year.
El Pasoans were able to see different ideas that came out of the study so far and provide their input in what they want done.
The so-called Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center has been in the works since 2012, but came to a steady halt in 2017 after numerous lawsuits from residents of the historic Duranguito neighborhood, which would have to be demolished to place the arena.
One of those residents is 94-year-old Antonia Morales who has been living in Duranguito since 1967.
“I’ve put in a lot of work to clean my neighborhood for them to just come and destroy it. I don’t agree with that,” said Morales.
One local activist and artist Jose Montoya, painted several murals in Duranguito to show how meaningful it is for the El Paso community.
He said he is not opposed to the arena, but believes the city could find another place to build it instead of demolishing Duranguito.
Montoya thinks the feasibility study is biased and he considers it “propaganda,” because the city hired a private firm from California to conduct it, which cost close to $800,000.
“It’s very easy to sell an economic development plan and it’s really easy to forget the pieces that they’re not going to put in that feasibility study, they’re not going to talk about the displacement of elderly,” said Montoya.
City’s chief operations officer Sam Rodriguez explained a part of the study that was presented to the public in the meeting is incorporating some of the old buildings in Duranguito and repurposing them to fit the needs of the arena.
One El Pasoan, William Kell, agrees with that proposition.
“The best way to preserve all of that is to do something that works with it that will bring people in and bring revenue in,” said Kell.
“Are you going to spend 15,20 million on restoring a building and what’s the ultimate use of the facility? That’s part of the feasibility study,” Rodriguez explained.
He said the study includes different case and benchmark studies, as well as explanations on how the arena would benefit El Paso economically.
The feasibility study is expected to be done by January of 2023.
More public meetings are in plan and the city is looking for public comment on the study’s website.
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