Wednesday, January 14, 2015

If they can't handle a tree, how can they handle a lake?

If they can't handle a tree, how can you expect the City of El Paso to handle a lake - Cement Lake in fact? That was the rhetorical question that a friend posed to me earlier today. His point is well taken seeing the city's negligence with the beloved Holiday Christmas Tree in San Jacinto Plaza.

When TxDOT purchased the land on which Cement Lake lies, there was still the possibility of the City taking possession and preserving it as a wildlife area. TxDOT Engineer, Bob Bielek, told Dr. Rick Bonart that, if the City wanted to discuss the lake, just send him a letter saying so. The letter could have come from anyone - the Mayor, a City Council Rep, Tommy Gonzalez, anyone. Dr. Bonart even went before Council and informed them about Bielek's offer. The City's response? The perfect vacuum - something that no one thought existed in nature. Thus, the inspiration to lease it to the Boy Scouts.

The lease agreement between the Boy Scouts and TxDOT is now I understand a done deal. I have two friends who have persisted in their defense of the Scouts and their ability to preserve the land. I have my doubts and I certainly would never get any pleasure out of saying "I told you so". We will just have to see and I hope that I have to eat my words.

I don't trust the people behind the deal. On the other hand, I do admire their committment to Scouts and the fact that some of them were Eagle Scouts especially Ted Houghton who has three sons all of whom are Eagle Scouts. That's something to be very proud of.

Time will tell. I still hope that the Scouts (and TxDOT) will, at the least, make a good faith effort to use local wildlife and ecology experts when developing a conservation plan for their Cement Lake camp. At the most, they could enter into a conservation easement agreement with a third party ensuring that the land is preserved and well managed rather than merely mining and exploiting the land's resources.

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