Tuesday, June 8, 2010

El Paso County Signs Deed for New Port of Entry

On Monday the El Paso County Commissioner’s Court signed the deed to the land needed for a new Port of Entry in the Lower Valley.

I’m going to get a little cynical here, so let me say the important stuff first.
Overall, this is a good thing for the Lower Valley. The economic impact will be huge and it will create jobs, which is good because based on last year’s numbers, REDCO sure isn’t creating any!

It’s good to see the community that is in most need of the jobs and economic development will finally be getting it. Kudos to Commissioner Gandara for spearheading the project and all the people involved. I’d name them, but Commissioner Gandara spent more than an hour thanking everyone, saying he considers them a close friend, saying he can’t say enough about them (then proving it), and then awarded them all with plaques that look like they were made by tombstone maker in his spare time.

Seriously, everyone without a camera and a mike in the room was given an award. I thought I was at my kids kinder grad…”and now the awards for perfect attendance and macaroni art…”

But the deed signing was not without its controversy. A group of local Republicans came to support a member of the family that owns the land, Steven Luttunich.

I’m not in favor of taking someone’s land for commercial purposes and I’m not exactly 100% easy with the idea of taking something someone worked hard to get for the public good either, but I sort of hold my knows when its done.

But I think both sides can make the case that they are right in this one.

This gets pretty complicated so you’ll need to watch these interviews to get an idea of what the dispute is.

This first video is an exchange between Luttunich and Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. Luttunich told the congressman about the deal, his family, and the fact that the decision of the courts is still in the appeal process. After they are done talking, I started asking a couple of questions of the congressman.

After learning about the allegations of the Luttunich family, I then spoke with Commissioner Gandara to find out about the deal, how long he’s known about controversy, and the benefits of the deal.

Gandara answered as many questions as he could, but suggested I talk to the County Attorney’s Office.

So I did.

Here’s my interview with the attorney in charge of the deal from the CA’s office.

She answered as many questions as she could, but I had a question about the size of the land acquisition.

She referred me to the project manager, who referred me to the PR person, who finally referred me to JD Salins, III who is the Regional Administrator for the GSA.

My question was about the size of the property. It’s over 100 acres, which seems like a lot of land for a port of entry. At over a 100 acres, I was starting to wonder if it was a space port of entry or something, but apparently its not (sorry Stephen Hawking). Here’s my interview with Salinas.


SammyC said...

Willie, you said the port of entry will increase the surrounding properites. Did you mean the value of the surrounding properties will increase due to having the port of entry being built in that area? It's funny you talk about increasing property value when the Lettunich family is asking that the County raise the value of their land so they can be fairly compensated for their land you so badly want. I guess supply and demand doesn't matter much when you can use eminant domain.

Anonymous said...

i thought texas outlawed eminent domain ? isnt that what we voted for a while back ?

a voter