EL PASO, Texas - The city of El Paso is poised to move forward with a plan to provide 25 sports fields for those living in central El Paso.
The 2012 Quality of Life bond program approved scattered flat fields funds in the amount of $5,000,000.
Back then City Council reps recognized central El Paso was lacking in fields compared to the east and west parts of the city.
"The main reason this item was put on the Quality of Life bond is because of the perception and reality that people don't have a place close to home the plan the game of soccer or football. And so that was the intent was to build facilities that would be locally available," said Tracy Novak, the director of Parks and Recreation.
City rep. Michiel Noe said city officials discovered there were some significant challenges to building in central El Paso.
"The problem with that was that the central area had no free land. I mean everything is used up. That's the old part of the city. So, to buy 80 acres of central El Paso would have cost the taxpayer a fortune," Noe said, "So instead, we said let's just look for little areas and scatter them out. So okay, there is not a complex of fields anywhere, but at least we can give the central area of El Paso, what is traditionally thought of as the central area, although right now the center of El Paso has moved far to the east, give that area of town additional fields to utiliize."
City staff has proposed using the funding toward existing properties owned by the city rather than pursuing land acquisition.
Some of those areas include WWII Company E Park, Ponder Park and Mary Webb Park.
Two of the proposed locations, Alameda Recreation Center and Modesto Gomez, are located just outside Central El Paso, a detail Rep. Alexsandra Annello took issue with.
"We are seeing a lot of issues with bond ordinances and locations. And if we can translate this location however we want, why isn't that the case with other bond issues. And legal said the same. You know, if the central planning area and downtown, those are very specific areas. And if the bond says that, and that's our argument with some other bond items, I don't know why it changes for this one," said Annello.
Noe said Alameda Rec Center and Modesto Gomez park are close enough to benefit soccer and football fans who live in Central El Paso, and it is in the city's interest to take advantage of existing support facilities such as restrooms, parking and lighting.
"I think it's a great plan. We are getting far more fields than anyone ever dreamed of by utilizing land that the city already owns , by utilizing land that the school districts own and the sharing in the responsibility of it," Noe said, "I think the City will get a huge benefit from this plan here, as opposed to going back and saying, 'OK, fine. We'll buy land and build it and get perhaps three fields'. Here we get 25."