The Third Court of Appeals in Austin has issued an order that at least, for the time being, will prevent the City of El Paso from leveling a series of buildings in what is known as the Duranguito neighborhood.
That neighborhood comprises the site for a proposed new $180 million multi-purpose arena that El Paso has been trying to build for more than 2 years.
The facility is officially known as the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center.
Preservationists and community activists have waged an energetic battle against the arena proposal, arguing that Duranguito, made up mostly of modest one-story homes and businesses, is an area of historical significance.
That conflict has resulted in a series of legal maneuvers, with opponents additionally arguing that the ballot language for the 2012 Quality of Life bonds to be used to fund the arena never specifically said the facility would house sporting events.
City officials, in response, have said that the proposed arena could be used for many things, including concerts, conventions, trade shows, and sporting events.
The 250th Civil District Court, also in Austin, had earlier dismissed a lawsuit designed to prevent the demolition of the Duranguito buildings. That lawsuit specifically challenged the city’s right to conduct an archeological survey of the neighborhood.
El Paso earlier contracted with the Houston-based Moore Archeological Consulting, Inc., to take on the survey.
Opponents of the arena plan have maintained that such a survey will be used to justify Duranguito’s demolition.
In going to the Third Court of Appeals, arena opponents have asked the court to decide on the Civil District Court ruling, but also, in the process, to both suspend authorizing the survey or any demolition until the larger issued is resolved.
City of El Paso officials have said that they are in the process of officially responding to the temporary halt order, a response that has to be submitted to the court no later than January 14.
By Garry Boulard
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