Joe Muench: ‘Let’s Save Something’ activists need a victory

By Joe Muench / El Paso Times

Some thoughts on varied smokestack-issue stuff:

It’s time for the “Let’s Save Something” activists to get a win. It’s got to be lousy losing all the time.

They’re not going to save City Hall. They’ll likely not save the Asarco smokestacks — but there’s still hope. And they didn’t even save a nice guy like Mike Price by buying tickets to his UTEP football games.

So perhaps some new “save” strategy is in order. How about making sure something vulnerable is saved before others want to tear it down or tear it up?

The Star on the Mountain. Alameda Avenue. The missions and the Mission Trail.

Hey, The Three Legged Monkey.

Here’s a theory. Many people now say they don’t want Roberto Puga to bring down the two Asarco stacks. Where were they all when the “Save the Stacks” people were trying to raise the money to keep them pointing up?

It’s obvious where they were.

Just a sec. Knock, knock.

“Hey you people hiding out in there. You can come out now. It might be too late for ‘Save the Stacks’ to hit you up for a donation.”

Question: London Bridge was moved to Arizona. Why isn’t anyone interested in taking the 826-foot stack down in pieces and reassembling it back in their own darn city?

I mean, some city has the world’s largest ball of rubber bands as a tourist attraction. How about some chamber of commerce taking the world’s largest eyesore off our hands?

OK, OK. Sorry to have dissed the stack. We love it so.

With all this stack stuff, no one is talking about remediating the dirt so somebody can stroll its expanse without fear of their ears glowing green.

Remember all the El Paso neighborhood yards Asarco had to clean up a few years back? Arsenic in the soil, and what have you.

Now the bankrupt Asarco has been ordered to put $52 million in a trust, with the money going toward razing and cleanup.

But when can man safely set foot on the land in the immediate area of the smelter? That was a talked-about issue before the smokestack controversy. Now it will again be the big question: Shall it be Chernobyl or Green Acres?

One has to presume it will eventually be used for something. If plans called for eternal mothballs, they could have just left the place alone and we could have referred to it as Magic Landing West.

Puga, the trustee in charge of leveling Asarco and selling the land, said he wants one buyer; it’s not going to be portioned off in lots and developed as a neighborhood. No, you won’t have a chance to live on Soot Street. No sending your children to Crud Elementary School.

Let’s hope the city or UTEP are not the buyers. That would mean we’d get no property-tax money off the approximately 458 acres.

The whole idea is to have the Asarco prime real estate developed, and also the two Downtown rail yard expanses.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have different corporations playing oneupsmanship on erecting the tallest building in town on those sites?

OK, OK. Here’s my second I’m sorry in this column. Sorry to have dissed those in town who maintain we’re always going to be backward and we should leave everything alone cuz we’re poor.

But back to finding something to save.

I say number one is the Star on the Mountain, it’s light bulbs ever threatened by pop-gun marksmen.

The Star on the Mountain, not two smokestacks, is El Paso.

Joe Muench may be reached at