Land Swap: City inks deal with EPISD

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 5:52pm

A win-win solution, that's what some city and EPISD officials are calling a land swap deal. The deal, several different parcels of land pieced together like a real-life puzzle, may impact taxpayers.

Wainwright Elementary school is just one piece of that puzzle. Now the city is planning to build a park right next to the school which is currently owned by EPISD using Quality of Life Bond Project money. Now, that's wherein the problem lies according to City Rep. Michiel Noe because the land is only being leased to the city, after 99 years it will go back to EPISD.

Land for land, acre for acre, the City of El Paso and the El Paso Independent School District inked a deal with lots of moving parts. "I think obviously it's a win-win for both the district and the city and the community because it's going to help with all these projects that are needed on both ends," Melissa Martinez, EPISD spokesperson said.

A deal so complex, "I'm not sure the city is getting what is due," City Rep. Michiel Noe, District 5 explained, some council members wanted time to review the lease.  "Are we getting what we're supposed to be getting out of this deal? And I'm not sure that happened today and I'm not sure why it was rushed through," he exclaimed.

Here's how it's going to work: the city will lease Tom Lea Park in exchange for land at El Paso High School. A lease at Memorial Park will get them a portion of Crockett Elementary, in return the city will lease land next to Wainwright Elementary. Land which will become ponds for El Paso Water Utilities or even parks, like the one set for Wainwright. "But this is land that is immediately adjacent to the school there's not even a street separating it," Noe said.

Quality of Life Bond money, a taxpayer funded project, will be used to build the park on city lease, not owned land. "It's written in the lease that it goes to the school so there's quality of life bond money that's going to the school district," Noe said.

EPISD said some of these projects are slated for completion by Spring 2015.  "Maybe it would have been the same decision that was done today but it would have been a lot more transparent."

To view plans:


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