The Lost Dog Trail is here to stay

The+Lost+Dog+Trail+is+a+7.7-mile+loop+trail+built+as+a+recreational+space+for+mountain+biking+and+hiking+by+El+Pasoan+Gilbert+Moreno.+The+trail+is+located+northwest%2C+on+Redd+Road.%0A
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The Lost Dog Trail is here to stay

The Lost Dog Trail is a 7.7-mile loop trail built as a recreational space for mountain biking and hiking by El Pasoan Gilbert Moreno. The trail is located northwest, on Redd Road.

The Lost Dog Trail is a 7.7-mile loop trail built as a recreational space for mountain biking and hiking by El Pasoan Gilbert Moreno. The trail is located northwest, on Redd Road.

Claudia Hernandez

The Lost Dog Trail is a 7.7-mile loop trail built as a recreational space for mountain biking and hiking by El Pasoan Gilbert Moreno. The trail is located northwest, on Redd Road.

Claudia Hernandez

Claudia Hernandez

The Lost Dog Trail is a 7.7-mile loop trail built as a recreational space for mountain biking and hiking by El Pasoan Gilbert Moreno. The trail is located northwest, on Redd Road.

Marisol Chavez, Contributor

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El Pasoans voted in favor to save 1,107 acres of land – which include the Lost Dog Trail – in a special election May 4.  The cost to preserve the trail is still unknown, with estimates ranging from $10,000 to $11.3 million, according to stakeholders.

The Lost Dog Trail is a 7.7-mile loop trail built as a recreational space for mountain biking and hiking by El Pasoan Gilbert Moreno. The trail is located northwest, on Redd Road.

A stakeholder committee was formed to determine the total cost of the preservation and was granted 90 days to make a decision. The 90-day period expires Aug. 13.

In September 2018, city authorities approved two Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones, which are created when it is predicted development would not be possible through private investments. One of the two areas (TIRZ 12) included the trail.

The initial proposal, “a unique development opportunity,” according to the city, would have merged development and preservation by safekeeping 30 percent of the land in question (about 250 acres), according to the city. Preservationists opposed the idea, claiming the trails are an important component of recreation and life in El Paso.

“People come here to find inner peace,” said Gilbert Moreno, creator of the trails.

After two petitions, one of which reached 13,072 people on change.org, the city granted a special election to make the final decision. On May 4, 89 percent of voters submitted their ballots in favor of the preservation of the trail.

“We just ran (the campaign) like we needed to win. It was all or nothing.”  said Rick Bonart, leader of the preservation initiative.

The land belongs to the City of El Paso and $11.3 million would have to be expended to preserve the land, according to the city.

“It gives me anxiety,” said Alan Gutierrez, a voter who resides on the west side of El Paso. “I don’t understand why it’s more expensive to keep it the way it is than to build a lot of big buildings on it.”

Bonart claims that, according to Texas law, all that would have to be paid to the Public Service Board is the original purchase price of $10,000.

“What is the benefit to the citizens of El Paso to pay a profit to a city department for property that we already own?” Bonart said.

In an interview with the El Paso Times, District 6 Rep. Claudia Ordaz said she “[doesn’t] want the East Side and the Valley having to subsidize the cost for a West Side project.”

“It’s absolutely horrendous. We’re all in this together,” Bonart said. “That she would begin to divide up the city by district based on economics is an absolute incorrect message.”

The Prospector contacted Ordaz for comment, but she had not reached out by late Wednesday night.

“Regardless of what the final price is, there are already funds set aside through the Public Service for it,” Peter Svarzbein, District 1 representative said. “ Two million dollars a year go towards that… specifically for open space land preservation.”

“The idea that your taxes are going to be raised, because it’s going to go through the general fund to pay for this, or anything, whether it’s $10,000, or $11 million, whatever it is, is not true,” Svarzbein also said.

A committee comprised of the petitioners, the Open Space Advisory Board, and members from the Public Service Board is working on discovering the true cost of the preservation of the trail. The committee is set to have an answer on Aug. 13.

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