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Residents upset over El Paso Electric project in upper valley park

By Denise Olivas
Published On: Jul 10 2013 10:06:00 AM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 10:18:50 PM CST
EL PASO, Texas -

El Paso Electric has torn up a portion of Esmeralda Park in the upper valley for its current construction project that will add three transmission lines to the area to meet demand for electricity.

Some residents are upset that high-powered lines are being added to their local park.

The project is nothing new, EPE officials say it has been in the works since 2003 and approved by city council and the Public Utilities Commission.

EPE also negotiated with developers of the area to acquired the property.

John Williams, a resident of the area has several issues with the safety of the project, but most importantly claimed EPE has not reached out to any residents.

"Many people can't live around high-powered lines. They (EPE) have not gone door to door, not done environmental impact statements, they haven't how many people in this neighborhood could be affected," said Williams.

Williams wants EPE to stop all construction and he is not alone. Several homes in the area have posted signs opposing the project.

He also takes issue with EPE's decade-long plans that he claimed are "railroading" his neighborhood.

"They're working on plans from 2003, it's now 2013. These houses have only been around eight years. They're working on ten year old plans," said Williams.

El Paso Electric spokeswoman, Teresa Souza said a public meeting was held in 2012 for residents where only two people reportedly showed up.

Williams said the meeting was held in nearby Canutillo, not El Paso.

"They (EPE) send bills to every single one of us every month and they know we are in the city of El Paso. So, if they called a meeting in the town of Canutillo they would darn well know we didn't get a notice," said Williams.

El Paso Electric plans to install three transmission poles to transfer power from the Santa Teresa substation to the currently expanding area near Esmeralda Park. Souza said it will improve reliability and demand.

The playground is fenced off because it will be torn down and placed in a different area of the park, the walkways will also be widened.

EPE officials maintains that the project that is expected to be complete at the end of this year will not demolish Esmeralda Park.

An attorney has been hired to file an injunction to stop the construction.

A meeting is set for Thursday at 5pm with residents, Mayor Oscar Leeser and city representatives at City Hall.

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