Friday, March 27, 2015

Sierra del Puente Protest Begins

The backlash against plans to develop Sierra del Puente has begun. A number of people from surrounding Mountain Park and other neighborhoods gathered yesterday to view the area behind their homes where a stack and pack development will most assuredly obscure their view of the mountains. 

Some initial organizing began.

There are some lingering questions the biggest of which is why the Open Space Advisory Board never set this land as a priority and pursued buying it? It had been mentioned by OSAB members on several occasions. Why was there no staff follow through? Will the City be interested as they seem to be in land near Mesa Heights?

Stay tuned on this one, folks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Who's To Blame for Trash Collection Site Next to Keystone?

These water fowl do not know that the City of El Paso has only put the trash collection site next to their habitat on hold . . . for now.

Although officials from Tommy Gonzalez down say that the nasty, dirty, ugly trash collection site next to Keystone (open space, wildlife preserve, archaeological site and botanical gardens) Park is on hold, they always add "for now" or "in the near future" or "for the time being". Rep. Niland claims that nobody in her district (District 1) has complained about the station. Of course, she only listens to a few Country Club Facebook friends as she did with our Christmas Tree in the San Jacinto Park when she wanted to take it down or destroy it by pruning it in a more triangular shape. Ask the people of the Upper Valley Neighborhood Association. Ask the parishioners of St. Jude's what they think about the collection station next to them. They are outraged. It's not just a bunch of tree huggers, animal lovers, heritage hippies who are angry.

Now we learn that the District 8 Rep along with the District 1 Rep want to put the blame on Ellen Smyth, the Director of Environmental Services. The truth is that Ms. Smyth was doing her job - the Reps of District 8 and District 1 were ignoring the situation for four years! Joyce Wilson, the perfecter of closed door deals, took money from the Environmental Services as part of the land swap that procured the City of El Paso the land next to Keystone. Naturally, Ms. Smyth saw this as land for her department's use. Now that there is a big brouhaha, Ms. Niland and Ms. Lily are calling for Smyth's head rather than acknowledging their responsibility. It is akin to a drunk driver who is oblivious to what's happening on the road and, thus, causing an accident and then blaming it on the sober driver. 

The Open Space Advisory Board will discuss and take action on the whole issue of a collection station next to Keystone at their next meeting, April 1st at 3 PM at City Hall #3, 801 N. Texas (red brick building at the corner of Texas and Virginia) in the Thorman Conference Room (downstairs). MAP

There is an online petition as well as a petition circulating through the Upper Valley Neighborhood Association and St. Jude's. 

Such a site does not belong next to an open space with a wetlands and animal habitat, an archaeological site, a neighborhood and a church. How would people feel if it was put next to St. Matthew's or St. Mark's in the Upper Valley or St. Clement's downtown. Hmmm?

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Monday Links: Water, Development, Open Space and Fracking

[Monday is "Links Day" with links gathered over the past week to online "stuff" to read and sites to surf that impact us directly or offer information about our regional issues. Please feel free to send me links to any conservation, environmental, simple living, city planning, energy and water, etc. stories that you have come across online.]

Water issues (always at the top of the list):

Undrinkable: Safe water was within reach, but politics and entrenched interests undercut decades of work Things are bad in Vinton.

World Faces Catastrophic Water Shortage if Changes Are Not Made, UN Warns

Snow Water Equvalent Percentages for the Western States It's not good. Note southwestern Colorado where the Rio Grande begins.

Policy Priorities for Managing Drought A California white paper but worth reading.

Activists Asking City to Preserve Land Near Franklin Mountains It's about water, sprawl and open space. KVIA's Maria Garcia interviews me about the petition. Good transition to our next topic:

Open Space and Development:

Comments on Land Study May Mean New NE El Paso Neighborhoods in the Franklin Mountain Foothills elpasonaturally did a post about this development. You have got to read the comments following the report. People just don't want the mountain destroyed. Sign the petition online and/or get signatures.

Boulder County Colorado Parks and Open Space It's a huge wish list for El Paso whose leaders just don't seem to get it.

Home Center for ReSource Management More good ideas from pacesetter, Boulder County Colorado.

Welcome to Tiny House Family Be sure to read the blog.

Energy and Fracking: 

Fracking Radiation

Fossil Fuels Are Way More Expensive Than You Think

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Friday Video: I Meant To Do My Work Today

It's too beautiful to be inside in front of a computer. Spring springs at 4:45 PM this afternoon. Go out and sing a song, play a pipe, listen to birds, see new life, read a poem. I'm out of here.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

We Must Put an End to the Asphalt-Industrial Machine

I missed something the other day. I was so happy to see that the connectivity project for the Franklin Mountains State Park (the access and animal corridor to Tom Mays) was still a "GO", that I overlooked the rest of the report. The rest can be summarized easily: miles and miles and miles of concrete and asphalt.

Project after project widens freeways and highways and spurs. Project after project eats up more land. There is no mention by the Texas Department of Transportation of mixed used roads. There is no mention of narrowing roads and reducing speed limits to make livable, walkable places, promote communities and neighborhoods and health. 

It's a vicious circle. We create asphalt corridors for traffic. The added highways increase traffic which we must accomodate by widening roads, creating more spurs, laying more asphalt, etc. ad nauseum.

Please read a Better Cities & Towns blog post by Robert Steuteville: They paved paradise, put up a parking lot . . . “Big Asphalt” has compromised our health, safety, and welfare — but we can defeat it if we try. Don't just skim or scan it. Read it. Learn all the ways that asphalt harms us. 

Steuteville tells us that it's time to fight the asphalt-industrial machine and take back our communities and countrysides.

He's right.

EPWU to Import Water from Hudspeth County

Click on image to enlarge.
It's not just drilling for oil that is going on in Hudspeth County. EPWU is drilling for water near McNary to import to El Paso.

This is a good time to read a Richard Parker's op-ed piece in the New York Times: The Southwestern Water Wars: How Drought Is Producing Tensions in Texas.

Torchlight Set to Drill Test Well Near El Paso

In spite of plummeting oil prices, fracking may be coming soon next to El Paso in Hudspeth County. Torchlight Energy Resources is set to drill a test well on March 28th. They must commence drilling as a term of their lease with the University of Texas that owns the land. In time it could mean drilling 2500 fracking wells marring the sensitvie Diablo Plateau.