EL PASO, Texas - The groups of petitioners against the baseball stadium plan to file an injunction to stop the demolition of city hall while they collect enough signatures to bring the issue to voters in November, Sal Gomez, one of the petitioners, said Thursday.
"I fought for my country, I risked my life for my country, I hoped that I would return to El Paso where I grew up and experience democracy and go to the polls and that my vote would be valued," said Gomez. He's part of a coalition that consists of the groups who are against the stadium, including Quality of Life Voters for Democracy.
Supporters of the plan hope the construction of the stadium won't be delayed or stopped. "It comes down to leadership and I think we have great leadership in our city council, certainly in our Mayor. It takes courage to do that. Certainly, because these are big, big steps," said Susan Melendez, co-chair of the Paso Del Norte Group. She spoke to ABC-7 about the group's support of both the baseball stadium and the Quality of Life Bond slated to go to voters in November.
Melendez said the PDNG believes quality of life measures will attract industry and business, increase El Paso's commercial tax base and thus decrease the burden on individual property tax-payers. "It also creates the private-public partnership that we have not had in the past and it really has been strengthened in the last few years. And that was the key. The public sector couldn't do it by itself. And the private sector couldn't get it done so that partnership is critical and will be critical going forward for our community."
Another petitioner against the plan said the Mayor's decision not to veto the decision to construct a baseball stadium disrespected voters. "They decided to ignore the democratic process, to ignore those thousands of voters who went through so much to try to have their voices heard," said Stephanie Townsend Allala, a local attorney who led "Occupy City Hall, a protest against the ballpark.
Other quality of life projects, such as the Art Museum and the Plaza Theatre were not put on ballots. State law does not require such projects to go to a vote, but Allala and the groups disagree.
Most lunch-goers downtown who ABC-7 spoke with agreed with the building of the stadium. "El Paso has a really strong sense of community and what it will do is it will bring a central point and I think it will bring everyone together and build on that sense of community," said David Ortwein, a banker who works downtown.