I have learned that Reps. Joe Molinar and Alexsandra Annello have co-sponsored an agenda item for January 3, 2023 calling for moving the “Arena” project out of Duranguito, preventing the condemnation or demolition of any properties therein, and reallocating the remaining bond funds toward renovating or upgrading existing City facilities. A journalist shared with me the text, which will appear on the City Council agenda tomorrow afternoon:

“Discussion and action that the City of El Paso re-evaluate and repurpose as appropriate the now-insufficient funds for constructing a new Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center, any sports facility or other building within the area bounded by West Overland Avenue to the north, South Santa Fe Street to the east, West Paisano Drive to the south, and Leon Street to the west and that no buildings within this area be condemned or demolished; and to begin examining the use of these funds specific to what the voters approved within existing City facilities that may be renovated or upgraded to honor the will of the voters.”

Just before the meeting on January 3, Brian Kennedy, Art Fierro and Chris Canales will be sworn in as City Council representatives. All three campaigned on saving Duranguito and spending the 2012 Quality of Life bond funds elsewhere. Thus, Molinar and Annello will hopefully have three additional supporters on City Council on the day of the vote.

As for the $798,611 feasibility study, it was always fatally flawed because it does not include any consideration of alternative locations for the MPC, so no matter what there would have been significant demolition within the “Arena Footprint.” The fact is that Molinar and Annello voted against that study on April 26, so the wasted expenditure is squarely the fault of the Oligarchy Caucus that supported it: Reps. Cassandra Hernandez, Peter Svarzbein, Claudia Lizette Rodriguez, Isabel Salcido, and Henry Rivera.  Of these, only Hernandez, Salcido and Rivera will remain in their seats come January.

The “Arena” debacle began on October 13, 2016, when the City Council voted 8-0 to empower itself with eminent domain authority to acquire property and demolish Duranguito for a multipurpose G-League basketball facility, along with 12 buildings that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Dozens of barrio residents were uprooted from their apartments and displaced as a result of the City’s actions.

Six years and two months later, thanks to the voters of El Paso, there is a group of five elected representatives who care more about our history, culture and people than about the private agenda of a small group of elite investors residing in the Upper Valley and Coronado.

Merry Christmas and God bless,


PHOTO CREDITS: (1) Original proposed Arena location, (2) Duranguito in 1927 (3) photo by Aaron Montes from September 2017.