The ASARCO stacks have been a part of El Paso for over 100 years.

The smelter was built in 1899, and closed down in the 1990's because the public said they didn't want to deal with the toxic emissions from the copper smelting plant anymore.

Little by little, the ASARCO site has been cleared of it's buildings that have been a landmark across I-10 from UTEP for all those decades, but a group of local businessmen and architects say they don't want to see the iconic smokestacks on the ASARCO site to come down.  What do you think should be done with the ASARCO smokestacks?

Fate of ASARCO smokestacks up for debate today at El Paso City Council

The Save The Stacks group say, the stacks could be a tourist attraction, but one that would come at a hefty price tag to the city.

The Texas Commission on Environental Quality has ruled that if a deal to buy and refurbish the stacks so that they are no longer an environmental hazard isn't made by December 4th, the stacks would have to come down.

Environmental studies have shown that the heavy metals that remain in the stacks are a hazard, and when it rains, the metals seep into the groundwater, and eventually into the Rio Grande.

Roberto Puga the person who is in charge of selling the stacks and the property on which they sit says the Save the Stacks group who wants the city to buy the stacks would have to buy the surrounding 153 acres of land along with the stacks, and that could cost as much as 10 million dollars.

Architect Geoffrey Wright , president of Save the Stacks, says the price Puga is suggesting is way too high because it would also take millions of dollars to refurbish the land to meet environmental codes as well as what it would cost to clean up the stacks.

Wright says until the land is stripped and brought up to environmental code it is unusable for most developmental purposes.

El Paso City Council is expected to weigh in on the whether it wants to pony up the 10 million dollars to buy the ASARCO stacks at their regular meeting today.

ASARCO has been an important part of El Paso history.  Maybe City Council could negotiate an agreement with the Puga to have the land donated and we'll take care of the clean-up.  Take my poll and tell us what you think about the ASARCO smokestacks!

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