Is El Paso finally choosing the site for its downtown entertainment arena?

Is El Paso finally choosing the site for its downtown entertainment arena?

The El Paso City Council is eyeing the downtown Union Depot as the new site for the voter-approved Cultural and Performing Arts Center.

During its meeting on Tuesday, February 13, the City Council will decide whether to proceed with the new location and direct Interim City Manager Cary Westin to “take the necessary steps in preparing and supporting the project “.

The new site had to be chosen after the City Council’s decision last year to abandon the previous arena site in nearby Duranguito due to its historical significance.

In March 2023, the City Council voted to hire Gensler, a San Francisco architectural and planning firm, to do another Downtown site assessment for the proposed project and to be paid up to $25,000.

While Union Depot was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, plans to use the site do not include demolishing the historic depot, and Max Gossman, whose lawsuit stopped the Duranguito project for years, said he has “no problem” with Union . Place of storage.

The new MPC will be built behind the Union Depot building, although it is currently unclear whether the depot will be included in the project.

The latest feasibility study conducted by Gensler shows that an 8,000-seat hybrid venue with indoor and outdoor seating shows the project is within the voter-approved budget and should generate annual profits.

The cost to clean up the site, which currently houses Sun Metro and Greyhound equipment, is estimated to be between $600,000 and $2.7 million.

The plan calls for site preparation to begin this fall and the design process to begin in the winter.

Finding local candidates for city manager

Following its decision on Jan. 31 to back out of a plan to hire a national search firm to lead the city manager search, the City Council will vote Tuesday on a plan to recruit local candidates to fill the position the highest administrative office of the city.

With West declining the full-time position, Mayor Oscar Leeser said during the January meeting that the city “needs to look internally” before launching a statewide search.

According to the plan, the Human Resources Department will be instructed to draw up a timeline for opening the search process, which will unfold as follows:

  • Create a job announcement and advertise the competition for two weeks
  • Initial review of applications by HR to ensure applicants meet minimum qualifications
  • Acceptable applications will be submitted to the mayor and city council
  • The Mayor and the City Council will be organized into three subcommittees each consisting of three members. Appointed by the mayor
  • All three subcommittees will meet to select final applicants for the interview process

Once qualified candidates are identified, HR will finalize the interview questions and provide them to the mayor and city council. Each candidate will then be interviewed by mayoral and City Council subcommittees, an employee panel and a community panel before participating in a meet-and-greet event.

If the search for local candidates does not yield results, the City Council will return to its plan for a national search.

Completion of the Ethics Ordinance for reporting contributions

The City Council voted in December 2023 to require additional reporting on political contributions and on Tuesday will direct the city attorney to amend a city ethics ordinance to reflect that directive.

If approved, the new ordinance would require candidates to provide the city clerk with a report on campaign donations, including the amount and name of the donor, by the last day of each month.

The reports will then be included in the next agenda of the City Council.

The proposed language specifically refers to “candidates,” but changes approved by the City Council in December include the following:

  • Council members must provide verbal and written disclosure of all contributions over $500 received during their term or campaign, concurrent with any agenda item related to a contributor or donor.
  • Contributors and donors must disclose any contributions or donations made to a current council member at the same time as any related agenda items.
  • Council members will be required to disclose all contributions and donations in an annual report.

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