Dear Friends,

I will continue to report to you the latest on the boundary between the proposed Segundo Barrio National Historic District and Downtown National Historic District until the issue is resolved at Monday’s meeting of the County Commissioners Court.

Yesterday, D.J. Sevigny, Chair of the City’s Historic Landmark Commission and Architectural Historian of Fort Bliss, wrote the attached letter to the County Commissioners Court. It is very thoughtful and well worth reading.

I also want to point out Tuesday’s report by Sabrina Zuniga of El Diario de El Paso, which I had previously overlooked:

The issue has been covered extensively by every local media outlet except for KFOX and El Paso Matters, so the public is already well educated about what is happening.

The online petition is approaching 2,000 signatures.

A REPEAT OF 2006?

Many El Pasoans recall the effort by the City of El Paso, in partnership with the Paso del Norte Group, to displace hundreds of people from the western portion of Segundo Barrio in preparation for redevelopment. The area adjacent to Sacred Heart Church was redubbed the “Golden Horseshoe” and was slated for 1970s-style mass demolition.

If you want to understand just how sinister that plan was, watch this YouTube video that was shot by David Romo inside Sacred Heart Church in 2006. In it you will see City Council Rep. Beto O’Rourke accompanied by another City official attempting to convince a group of anxious Segundo Barrio residents that the seizure of their homes and destruction of their neighborhood is in their best interest.

I have also attached a 2006 letter signed by then-Bishop Ochoa, Rev. John Stowe and the same Father Rafael Garcia, who is again the Pastor of Sacred Heart Church. The letter to City Council passionately argues against displacement and demolition in Segundo Barrio.

The plan to “redevelop” the “Golden Horseshoe” was eventually tabled because of mass community opposition and legal challenges, but it never died. In fact, if one Googles “Segundo Barrio” one will see a map that excludes the western portion of the neighborhood and that is perfectly in line with the plans of certain developers. The map is impossible to correct. Just try!

It is telling that the portion of the barrio that the County just voted to exclude from the proposed Segundo Barrio Historic District conforms nicely to the Downtown Management District and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 5 (TIRZ 5), which extend south of Paisano all the way to the two bridges. See the attached maps.

Is the current attempt to separate the “Golden Horseshoe” from Segundo Barrio a reiteration of the nefarious 2006 plan to cede the western portion of Segundo Barrio to┬ádevelopers?

Bishop Seitz and Father Garcia seem to think so, and I believe them.

WRITE TO THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Please write to the County Commissioners Court and Economic Development if you support establishing a Segundo Barrio National Historic District that conforms closely to its historic and cultural boundaries: countyjudge@epcounty.com; commissioner1@epcounty.com; commissioner2@epcounty.com; commissioner3@epcounty.com;
commissioner4@epcounty.com; vvenecia@epcounty.com; ahutchins@epcounty.com

Max

Max Grossman, PhD

Executive Board, Preservation Texas

Vice-Chair, The Trost Society