EPISD and city of El Paso agree on land swaps for projects

EPISD and city of El Paso swap lands

EL PASO, Texas - On Tuesday, El Paso's largest school district and the city agreed on several property swaps so that projects may be completed to benefit citizens and students.

During the city council meeting, ABC-7 was provided documentation explaining the sites and projects involved. Some projects need city-owned land, others need land owned by the district. As a result, the two organizations came together with the plan passed 7-1 today, with District 5 City Representative Michiel Noe voting no.

The approved changes involve neighboring areas, such as Austin High School and the El Paso Water Utilities pond nearby. A pedestrian pathway will go in on Lackland Street near Altura Avenue and beautification will be done at Austin Pond.

A large chunk of land behind Wainright Elementary in northeast El Paso will become a city park. EPISD will lease a portion of Memorial Park to build a multipurpose building for Crockett Elementary, and El Paso High School will get to continue leasing a portion of Tom Lea Park for portables that are already there.

Councilman Noe wanted more time to study the options, but the EPISD says council's vote benefits everyone.

"I take very seriously any time we even consider giving taxpayer park land away. And that's what happened today, is park land was given away," Noe said after the council meeting.

"I think obviously it's a win-win for both the city and the district and the community because it's going to help with all these projects that are needed on both ends," EPISD spokeswoman Melissa Martinez said.

One of the most important parts of the agreed plan is that neither the district nor the city has to spend any money to use the lands for the projects. In instances where the district is leasing park lands, those leases last 99 years.

EPISD expects the new multipurpose building at Crockett Elementary to be done by late March to early April 2015.

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