Stuart Blaugrund “represented a group of Downtown business and property owners who successfully resisted the taking of their properties for private commercial purposes,” according to the El Paso Inc. He wrote a column that appeared in the online version of today’s El Paso Times.
Reasonable minds should be able to disagree over the City’s controversial decision to steamroll ahead with its plans to demolish Duranguito and build an arena without being subject to a series of taxpayer-funded attack ads in local media.
As a former El Pasoan whose family played a vital role in Downtown’s retail and commercial activity for over a century, I’m saddened and outraged at the City’s extraordinary use of its public relations apparatus to attack advocates of a more open and inclusive process to make Downtown a better place. There is every reason to vigorously debate whether placing the contentious arena in Union Plaza will actually deliver the long-promised revitalization and economic boom to El Paso — even if the ban on sporting events is ultimately reversed on appeal — especially considering the Downtown Plan has over-promised and under-delivered since its unveiling by the Paso Del Norte Group twelve years ago.
Take for example the benchmark promise that the proposed Mercado District would be operating within five years after establishment of Downtown’s tax increment financing district in 2006. A dozen years later that colorful arts-inspired area with a park, outdoor amphitheater, 200,000-square-feet of retail space and 300 residential units is yet to materialize.
We’ve spent a lot of money towards revitalizing downtown. Public money. Money for the Plaza Theatre, Union Plaza, San Jacinto Plaza, and the ballpark. Tax incentives for more projects than I can list. And the City keeps telling us they need more.
They’re like junkies.
The City consistently over-promises and under-delivers. And they’re not above outright lies.
Maybe it’s time we re-examined our strategies.