Residents in the Durangito neighborhood got a jolt of bad news yesterday when El Paso City Council decided against using the downtown Convention Center for the new arena and instead put their neighborhood back in the crosshairs.

Council approved getting a feasibility study done that will look at areas within a 1,000 foot radius around the Downtown Convention Center as a possible site for the Downtown arena. That study will not look at the Convention Center.

Business leaders asked Council to not choose a location that would disrupt events already scheduled for the convention center.

Why don't we tear down the Union Plaza Entertainment District? Those old warehouses are not historic, there is nobody living in them, and they are a stone's throw from the ballpark. There is already parking available at the Convention Center and the Union Plaza parking structure, and the trolley will be in walking distance. Give the business owners in the Entertainment District tax incentives for a year to move to other downtown locations, and give building owners tax incentives to make their properties usable for those businesses. It would create infill of downtown buildings, avoid tearing down the Convention Center, and satisfy the 1,000 foot requirement to get the tax rebates from the State.

The Durangito neighborhood is a treasure of historic architecture, but we need to give the property owners there incentives to maintain their buildings. For every $10,000 worth of improvements, give them a property tax break of 3 or 6 months. It would give the area a facelift and keep City Council from thinking it should be torn down.

There are ways of honoring our past and moving forward into the future. We need to hold our elected officials to doing that.

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