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Friday, March 6, 2015

City Strategic Plan Has Nothing to Say about the Environment and Open Space

Our beautiful mountains are being ravaged by quarries like the Cemex operation near McKelligon Canyon.
The City of El Paso's strategic plan has nothing to say about the environment and open space. Although it may be a useful document for staff, it does not address the issues about conservation and preservation of our natural resources. 

At their meeting this past Wednesday members of the Open Space Advisory Board (OSAB) heard a presentation by Nancy Bartlett of the City Manager's office about the strategic plan. Questions were immediately raised.

Board member, Maria Teran, asked if OSAB fitted into one of the strategic plan initiatives. Both Bartlett and a cohort also from the CM's office were hard pressed to find an item that might include open space. To say the least, I haven't heard this much hemming and hawing by city personnel in a long time.

Former OSAB Chairman and current Board member, Charlie Wakeem said it quite plainly after all the hemming and hawing: "Nothing I've heard has tied this plan to the open space plan."

You can read the strategic plan HERE. Ms. Bartlett tried to tie open space with 3.2 of the plan: "Improve the visual impression of the community." OSAB members weren't buying it.

When questioned as to how the general public, boards and commissions had been involved in the formation of the strategic plan, Bartlett claimed that the public had been invited to a City Council hearing. It was pointed out that, if true, no real notice about the hearing was given. A friend commented: "I joined the city mailing list in May 2014, I never received any notice of public meetings on the strategic plan that I recall."

Not being able to detail public participation in the plan, Bartlett then claimed that the SP is a work in progress and her coming to OSAB was a beginning. However, that doesn't explain the fact that a slick brochure with the plan has already been printed. Why go to the expense of designing and printing a brochure if the SP is still a "work in progress"?

What it means that the environment, open space and conservation are not mentioned is easy: the heirarchy of the City doesn't value the environment, open space and conservation. 

They should.

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