Monday, March 2, 2015

Another Vampire That Just Won't Die

You know how vampires work. They flee the least hint of sunlight and hide in their sarcophagi until it is pitch black again and their victims will be caught unawares.

Such it is with the collection station next to Keystone Park.

It appears now that the project is dead at least for now. (Read David Crowder's excellent article in this week's El Paso Inc.) With pressure mounting, Rep. Cortney Niland has said "no" to the expansion. She has said that before and then the project mysteriously rises again. It is dark and nobody is looking. Count Dracula rises again from the dead.

According to Ellen Smyth, the Environmental Director, the construction of an expanded collection station next to a precious wetlands, bird habitat and archaeological site is not going to happen for the foreseeable future. But she also tells us that the land was purchased just for such an expansion so it may come up again in the future.

The Open Space Master Plan makes it clear that "Keystone Heritage Park is a key cultural site as well as the remnant of a unique wetlands zone. Preservation of undeveloped lands around the park should be a high priority of the city in the near future." The strategy for preservation is the acquisition of land around the park. ". . . without the acquisition of the remaining 20 acres around the park," states the Master Plan, "the facility will be a mere shadow of what it could have been." (Towards a Bright Future: A Green Infrastructure Plan for El Paso, Texas - the Open Space Master Plan - page 5-32)

What should be done? Land for a collection station away from Keystone should be identified. The current land next to Keystone should be a dedicated park site to complement the wetlands park. Until there is a firm alternative plan, the City will green light the collection station next to Keystone when nobody is looking. We will wake up one day and discover that a bulldozer has begun to scrape and shape the land. We don't want to be caught unawares.

For now, the project is off. But until the land is preserved and another site faraway is chosen for the ugly, noisy collection station, then the bulldozers will come and the City will tell us that there is nothing to see.

Please keep signing the online petition and spread the word.

Let's make sure that this vampire never wakes up again.

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