Quality of Life issues: To pass or not to pass
By Joe Olvera ©, 2012
“Take me out to the ballgame, take me out with the crowd, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, I don’t care if I never get back…” Yep, you guessed it, the Ballpark Stadium and purchase of the San Diego Padres farm team – a Triple A – professional squad will soon make its debut in El Paso after El Paso Mayor John Cook decided to not veto the contentious issue and allow the city to knock down city hall and relocate to disparate parts. What parts? Parts is parts. So, are you ready for some baseball? Well, some are, but, many are not. The Save the Diablos group, headed by Ray Rojas, Stephanie Townsend Allala, and others, got their wish in that their Diablos will be allowed to remain in El Paso and will be allowed to compete for the publics’ heart against the El Paso Padres. But, they didn’t get their wish to save City Hall. Oh, well, can’t win them all.
But, wait, there’s more. An even more contentious issue is whether El Paso voters, many of whom have been angered because of the passage of the new baseball stadium along with tearing down City Hall, will have their say come November. The Quality of Life Bond Issue, being promoted by City Hall means a higher tax rate for home owners, but, not that high say supporters – a mere $40 more for a $100,000 house by the year 2023. Still a long way off, you say? Well, time passes fast, especially when you’re having fun. But, in all fairness, El Paso does need to improve its image, it needs to provide amenities for its citizens. The old refrain that there’s nothing to do in El Paso, rings only too true. Oh, sure, we have our Carlsbad Caverns, our White Sands, our Cloudcroft/Ruidoso spots where El Pasoans can go for a weekend, or a special event. But, those are too far from the madding crowd.
Even visitors to El Paso say that there’s nothing to do here. Once upon a time they could go to Juarez, to see bullfights, to see and hear famous singers at La Fiesta Restaurant, or to get a quickie divorce. But, even then, there was little to do in The Sun City – famous for its great weather. But, did or does the city have an Olympic-sized swimming pool? No! Did or does the city have enough soccer fields to satisfy youngsters and oldsters who clamor for more of the same? No! Does the city have a world-class children’s museum, or a state-of the arts and cultural center? No! So, what do visitors and, especially, citizens have to keep them in El Paso? Absolutely nothing. Yet, they stay.
Wait, the city could do something for visitors. For example, a shuttle service could be provided for out-of-towners to visit those sites already mentioned, sites and locations that are conveniently located in the state of New Mexico. Those visitors could stay at our excellent hotels, they could eat at our excellent restaurants, and they could see some of the sights that the city does provide. Not enough, you say? Then, how about hotels and restaurants getting together and paying for that shuttle service. In the evenings, bring them back to El Paso. Since those sites mentioned don’t have airports, this might be the next best thing. It could work.
But, El Paso citizens say, “what about us?” It’s no secret to El Pasoans, that they can visit those sites on special occasions, but, what’s here – in El Paso – for them? No matter how hard the city works to promote itself, denizens who live here are not forming part of the equation. But, much work needs to be done. Will voters approve the bond issue? Will they vote to provide amenities for those who live here, those who live here and who love this city? It will be up to the voters. The controversy over building the new stadium and of having an almost professional baseball team in the city is not because the naysayers didn’t want the ballpark, rather, it was because of the way it was shoved down their throats. They wanted to have a say in it, they wanted to show their support for it, they wanted to vote for it. But, guess what –maybe they weren’t allowed to vote on the new stadium or voting to tear down city hall, but, come November, they will be allowed to vote on the so-called Quality of Life Bond Issue. Which way will voters go? Let’s wait for November, because, only time will tell. Our take is that El Pasoans should vote for the $473 million bond issue. That’s the only way we’ll ever get anything done. Let’s do it for us. Case closed!