Yesterday, the State Board of Review of the Texas Historical Commission voted unanimously to recommend advancing our County’s nomination of Downtown El Paso to the National Register of Historic Places.
Please consider sending an email of thanks to County Commissioner David Stout of Precinct 2, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and the other members of the County Commissioners Court, as well as to Heritage Tourism Coordinator Valerie Venecia, who worked on the nomination of Downtown El Paso to the National Register of Historic Places tirelessly for so many years. They deserve most of the credit for yesterday’s positive outcome. The letters that Commissioner Stout and the Judge submitted to the THC were masterpieces!
Please also consider thanking City Rep. Alexsandra Annello of District 2, City Rep. Joe Molinar of District 4, and City Rep. Claudia Lizette Rodriguez of District 6 for their firm support of the County’s nomination:
Reps. Annello and Rodriguez sent strong letters of support to the Texas Historical Commission, and all three representatives called in yesterday to speak to the State Board of Review (although the meeting organizers permitted only Rep. Rodriguez to speak). Their support of this project reflects their solid commitment to economic development in our Downtown within the context of historic preservation and heritage tourism. One can only hope that the Mayor and the other five members of our City Council will come to understand fully the benefits of the National Register overlay.
By contrast, City Engineer Sam Rodriguez and the City’s Chief Architect Daniela Quesada argued for the exclusion of the 13 National-Register-eligible “Arena Footprint” properties even though all the required criteria were met in the application. It is especially regrettable that Quesada complained that the properties that were damaged by a bulldozer on September 12, 2017 with City authorization have been allowed to languish, with gaping holes exposing them to the elements, and that this is a reason for omitting them from the proposed district. We all know that the City owns the damaged properties, is 100% responsible for their present condition, and has done nothing to reinforce them structurally or seal them from the elements.
Thanks also to Emily Payne and the other professionals at Hardy Heck Moore, Inc. of Austin for conducting the architectural survey and for drafting such an excellent application.
The members of the State Board of Review all deserve our thanks, along with Greg Smith, Judy Garza and Mark Wolfe, for their professionalism and unwavering support of Texas history.
We must also thank former Texas State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, who was the only member of our State Delegation to actively support local historic preservation efforts. He stood beside the preservationist community on every key issue, demonstrating great courage and determination, during his entire time in office. He will be missed!
Finally, all the organizations and the many members of the general public who took the time to advocate for this nomination deserve our heartfelt gratitude. They are far too numerous to list here.
Enjoy your day,
Max Grossman, PhD
Board of Directors, Preservation Texas
Vice-Chair, The Trost Society
Co-Chair, Restore Sacred Heart Church