Have you ever wanted to tell city officials how to design part of El Paso? Here's your chance.
A consulting firm has been hired to incorporate public input into an initiative with a heated history: designs for the Transmountain corridor and Northwest master plan.
The approximately 185,000 acres of land surrounding the soon-to-be expanded Transmountain Road is a precious piece of property, known as one of the most scenic stretches in town. El Pasoans were invited to a "Hands-On Design Session" at Canutillo High School's cafeteria Tuesday evening to weigh in on how it should be handled.
Many at the meeting were self-described environmentalists who did not want to see any kind of development in that area.
However, Patricia Adauto with the El Paso Water Utilities said a balance of development and preservation is needed in that area. She said the revenue earned from some of the land sales to a responsible developer would help keep rates low. Plus, she says, "There's gonna be a need for housing and population growth within the next 30 years and if (people) can't go inside the city then what's going to happen is you're going to force them to go outside the city."
Still, some attendees expressed a desire to keep the land as it is for fear the natural balance might be affected. "In my opinion, we would see a big loss of wildlife," said one man who volunteers at the Franklin Mountains State Park.
The Public Service Board, which manages that city-owned land, originally drew plans for the area in 2007. Those plans were approved but came under fire when some residents became upset those plans consisted of 30 percent open space and 8 percent parks and trails. Now the PSB is starting the design process from scratch.
The hope is both sides will come together to find some common ground. The consultants said they will take everybody's input and turn it into a set of recommendations to take before City Council sometime in late March or early April.
It's not too late to get involved. There is another public planning session on Saturday at Canutillo High School from 9 a.m. to noon.