An Open Letter to the El Paso City Council Regarding the Previously Agreed Upon Process Dear Mayor Cook

and Honorable City Council Representatives, I urge you to pass the resolution authorizing the City Manager to sign the Fourth Amendment to the Agreement with Dover Kohl and Partners, Item Number 5 on next Tuesday’s agenda. You postponed action on this matter for one week. I sincerely appreciate and value the desire of Council to be careful with our money. However, this is one expense that makes sense for several reasons especially given the context of the petition which called for permanent preservation of the Scenic Corridor and no major roads through the preserved land. Although the PSB’s latest map keeps Paseo del Norte, opens up a new road from Paseo to the State Park, drops in a “resort” (previously a school on the old master plan), and cuts through the southern arroyo (FEMA 39), it does come closer than prior suggestions to preserving the desired view shed. It might be easy for any one of us to conclude some kind of arrangement with the PSB. Unfortunately, that would be a back room deal between myself and Mr. Archuleta, or the Chairman of the Open Space Advisory Board and Mr. Archuleta, or between some other limited number of stakeholders. It would not represent the views of all involved. The process which we all agreed upon and which includes the hiring of Dover Kohl, allows for a democratic and transparent approach that will result in a defined view shed to be preserved permanently and an agreeable solution regarding any roads. It also should be pointed out that a conservation easement, for example, requires some forethought about what is included and what is excluded in the land being preserved. The process that we agreed upon allows for the conditions of such permanent preservation to be well thought out and deliberately defined. The process also means that the view shed once defined and permanently preserved will fit into the entire new plan for the northwest properties. It should be our goal that a beautiful view shed should fit beautifully into a beautifully planned area. The City has seen too much hodgepodge development and here we have a chance to have a coherent, holistic design that uses Smart Growth/SmartCode and utilizes the principles of green infrastructure/low impact development. The process offers the possibility for not only achieving the principles behind the petition but also of creating a more sustainable, livable space for El Paso’s Northwest. As you each are probably aware, the PSB passed a similar resolution this past Wednesday. They have agreed to the scope of work as presented by Dover Kohl and will share 50% of the costs for a Northwest Plan update to SmartCode. They have agreed to the process. Finally – and I say this from the heart – authorizing this agreement builds trust. When plans are made behind closed doors and deals struck in private meetings, then the dreams and hopes and ideas of many are carelessly and disrespectfully ignored. Like so much hodgepodge development, such deals serve the interests of a few but do not bring us all together as a community of proud citizens of El Paso, Texas. Please authorize the Fourth Amendment to the Agreement with Dover Kohl and Partners. Respectfully yours, Jim H. Tolbert

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