A plan to build a $180 million multi-purpose arena in downtown El Paso may be facing yet another hurdle as the site it will be built on is examined from an archeological and historical perspective.
Approved by the El Paso City Council in the fall of 2016, the proposed arena has been consistently opposed by community activists and residents of the Duranguito neighborhood where the project would go up.
Those opponents have argued that Duranguito is an historically significant neighborhood that shouldn’t be demolished to make way for the project.
Arena foes won a signal victory earlier this year when Texas District Court Judge Amy Meachum ruled that the ballot language for the 2012 Quality of Life bonds paying for the construction of the arena did not mention that the structure might be used for sporting events.
Although the City of El Paso has since appealed Meachum’s ruling, demolition work at the site was forced to stop.
Now a memorandum of understanding that is in the working stages between El Paso and the Texas Historical Commission could result in an extensive archeological and historical analysis of the site.
Reports have indicated that a cemetery with the buried remains of Confederate soldiers may be beneath Duranguito’s surface. If that proves the case, it would add a new complication to the project and could, according to Texas law, require yet more study.
El Paso officials have acknowledged the possibility that there may be a cemetery with the remains of Civil War soldiers in the area, but have maintained that that cemetery is most likely not beneath the exact area where the arena will be built.
A 2005 book by the authors Ken and Sharon Hudnall, entitled Spirits of the Border, claims that Confederate soldiers were indeed buried in downtown El Paso, but in a space near the intersection of South El Paso Street and East Overland Avenue, roughly a block to the east of Duranguito.
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