El Paso

Two weeks after approval for downtown arena, residents still concerned

Two weeks after approval for downtown...

City Council met Tuesday afternoon.
As usual, council meetings allow for public speakers to express their opinions to city representatives.

Council members for the most part listen to concerns residents might have and do not always necessarily provide feedback at the time.

Tuesday afternoon was different.

Residents of the Union Plaza neighborhood once again took a stand against the recently approved $180 million multipurpose arena that will be built in their area, and some council members, including Mayor Oscar Leeser expressed their thoughts on the residents' concerns. 
"If I am displaced I will lose all the support that I have there," said Union Plaza resident Mike Leibbrand.

Leibbrand told council members he is handicapped and suffering from kidney failure. He also mentioned he lives with a roommate who has congestive heart failure.

"There is no way that we can move our furniture and things that we have without help," Leibbrand said.

City Rep. Cortney Niland called on City Attorney Silvia Firth to clarify what support services will be offered to those displaced because of the arena.

"Part of the relocation is that the city will bear the expense of relocating so people won't need to move their own furniture and their things," said Firth.

Opponents of the arena, including Michael Patino, voiced their concerns and reminded the council most residents are low-income and elderly.

"We know we are dealing with elderly and disabled and we will address those situations on a one-on-one basis," Firth said.

Mayor Oscar Leeser agreed with some of the opponents who said there wasn't enough communication between residents in the area and the city.

"We need to be transparent before anything happens," Leeser said.

Patino rebutted, saying, "This should have been done prior to the approval of the arena."

Niland answered to Patino, "When it comes to real estate acquisition we are bound to respect our legal council. Our legal council would not allow us to reach out and discuss this until we went public with the formal action."

Council members and Firth said they were setting up a meeting the residents on Nov.16 at Fire Station 11. A time for the meeting has not been set.

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