Resolution to Buy the Stacks

Below is an email from Peggy McNiel to El Paso City Council Members.

I urge that Mayor Cook refrain from plans to present the resolution to buy the Asarco stacks to the city council. If presented, I urge the Mayor and council to vote against this reckless and costly resolution.

Mr. Robert Puga has delineated the rationale why the city should refrain from buying the stacks in today’s, 11/17/12 El Paso Times article.

The stacks are not playthings or new restaurant concepts. Structurally repairing and maintaining them is serious and potentially dangerous and deadly business if not done in accordance with engineering principles and requirements as outlined by Mr. Puga. Robert Ardovino has casually tossed aside the trust’s study as too expensive and found another outfit to show the costs could be less. Because he has business opportunism as part of his motivation, it is in his interest to cavalierly reject sound but costly engineering remedies in studies provided by Mr. Puga who has no business interest in the property.

Perhaps the stacks are endearing to some people in El Paso. However, as Mr. Puga has informed us, potential buyers of the Asarco site do not find them endearing or a positive attribute to their commercial enterprise. In fact, they would negate their decision to purchase.

The rationale for downtown revitalization has always included increasing tax revenue. As Mr. Puga outlines, if the mayor and council vote to buy the site with the stacks, it renders the site unmarketable, thus eliminating any tax revenue estimated at $5 million to $5.5 million.

If the city votes to buy this site, it is thus voting to lose $5 million to $5.5 million which is counter to the rationale it used in assessing the downtown revitalization plan. So which is it? Is the city truly trying to increase tax revenue or enter into tax draining, losing business propositions?

Remember, when a poll of citizens was asked if they supported their tax dollars being spent to maintain the stacks, 80% said no.

In accordance with the law, the deadline cannot be extended.

I urge the Mayor and Representatives to respectfully reject this resolution in the interests of all.

As a reminder, the Asarco stacks were demolished in Tacoma, Washington, Omaha, Nebraska and Monterrey, Mexico when the refiner was shut down.
There is nothing remarkable about the stack which was built in 1969 except the height which according to Puga would have to be trimmed anyway if the stacks were left standing. Puga has made many efforts to recommend stack memorials at the site which should be accepted by those who truly have preserving the history of the refinery at heart and not reckless, costly and potentially dangerous objectives.


Peggy McNiel
Proud to be a native and citizen of El Paso

1 Response Add a Comment

  1. Comment by Lorne Bay — November 20, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

    I do not understand the sense in keeping the smokestacks. The cost estimates I have seen, seem to be too low and with no accounting for inflation. Not considered in the yearly costs are constant management of the structures to insure safety, maintenance etc, insurance, and misc. The MAIN COST will be the eventual demolition, whether it be in 25 or 50 years. When this becomes necessary, the area will be developed with infrastructure, buildings and people. The stacks will have to be taken down “brick by brick” (only an expression) and the costs may run 25 to 50 million dollars. To cancel the scheduled demolition will probably not realize the full credit. As a taxpayer, I do not want the burden to rest on my shoulders (as the Ballpark). Get responsible people to make this decision or have the taxpayers vote on it.

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