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Groups reach compromise in Transmountain corridor issue

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Mar 11 2013 02:28:10 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:42:47 PM CST

ABC-7's Maria Garcia reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

Several groups have reached a compromise about what to do with the land surrounding the Transmountain corridor in Northwest El Paso.

The plan took three years of citizen-driven petitions, some contentious dialogue and a lot of compromise.

Though the talks were heated at times, Charlie Wakeem, the Chair of the Open Space Advisory Board, said all parties were able to reach a deal they were happy about, because they did not forego diplomacy. "This came about through three years of hard work and debate. Working together - coming up with compromises and being civil with each other."

The issue was that a group of petitioners fought to preserve the open space around Transmountain. But the Public Service Board said it needed to eventually sell the land to developers in order to accommodate growth and create revenue. PSB officials said the sale of the land would also prevent future water rate hikes.

After three years of back and forth, the City, PSB, the petitioners and the Open Space Advisory Board came up with a plan that preserves 660 acres of open space and also sets a significant portion of the land south of Transmountain road for development.

Once it's bidded out to developers, about 10 years from now, the land will be zoned smart code, a designation that ensures walkable communities, with places for people to live, work and play.

City planners said that attracts all kinds of people to El Paso, including the baby boomers looking for cities to retire in and young professionals.

"They're looking to move to different cities that can offer these types of environments - and so if El Paso can't offer walkable, urban, multi-model neighborhoods that include wide sidewalks and walking/biking trails and open space, those populations are going to look somewhere else," said city planner Carlos Gallinar.

The reason it'll be 10 or 15 years before the land is developed is because the city hasn't grown out that far yet.  The City projects it'll take that long for development to reach that area.

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