Save City Hall effort may be down to last out

EL PASO, Texas - While the ballpark battle was being waged in a courtroom in Austin on Tuesday, City Council was busy striking out two more attempts to save City Hall from demolition and prevent the Downtown ballpark from being built.

It wasn't a good day at the plate for those who are trying to save City Hall from demolition next month. Opponents of tearing down city hall and building a ballpark are going down swinging but appear to be down to their last out.

In separate votes Tuesday, City Council voted to deny a petition seeking to put the decision on whether to demolish City Hall on the May ballot.

That vote was 5-to-3 with City Reps Emma Acosta, Carl Robinson and Eddie Holguin voting to approve the petition. In an identical vote, Council voted to deny the acceptance of a lawsuit by Carl Starr, one that also called for El Pasoans to authorize the City Hall demolition on the May 11 ballot.

The save City Hall petition was brought forth by El Pasoan David Ochoa, among others. Ochoa was quick to point out after the petition was denied that they have one more chance to gather another 1,550 signatures (five percent of the vote in the last mayoral race) to force the vote. He added they aren't giving up on saving City Hall until that final out is recorded.

"We have a better organized group of people now and we can get those 1,550 signatures that we need before the end of the month," Ochoa said.

"People have the right to petition their government and government should respect that right," Acosta added.

"We have followed the law," City Representative Steve Ortega said. "The demolition is going to continue as planned next month. We have a building contractural agreement with the ownership group. So my expectation is we're going to see demolition pretty soon, construction and then baseball in El Paso in 2014."

Should a judge in Austin decide not to allow an injunction to stop the demolition of City Hall, Ochoa's final petition attempt to get the vote to save City Hall on the May ballot could be a moot point. That's because City Hall is scheduled for demolition at the end of next month.

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