By Richard Barish
Monday evening was the override vote on the resolution sponsored by Councilors Ike Benton and Ken Sanchez that would have stopped Bosque construction, restarted the public process, and given City Council a say in how the remaining current Bosque appropriation is spent. Prior to Monday, the BAT has been in discussions with the City over what could be done to mitigate the environmental harm from the project, specifically, by moving the trail away from environmentally sensitive areas by the river bank and engaging in restoration projects, and on a process for future projects, but no agreement has yet been reached.
The override vote failed on a vote of 4 in favor of override, 5 against. Councilor Klarissa Peña abandoned her Democratic colleagues to vote with the Republicans against the override.
However, all was not in vain. Councilors repeatedly questioned the City about its engagement with the BAT and indicated their desire for something to come out of those talks. Councilor Peña stated that if those talks were not productive, she would reconsider her vote. Thus, there is some pressure from Council for the City to come to an agreement with the BAT.
In our meeting with the administration last week, the administration appeared to be willing to modify its project and undertake additional restoration projects. At the same time, it was unwilling to commit to do so in writing. The proof is in the pudding, but with the pressure for City Council, I am cautiously hopeful that the discussions will be productive.
Councilor Benton also introduced another resolution at the Council meeting on Monday. This resolution sets forth a formal procedure for approval of Bosque projects to avoid the kind of thing that happened with the current project. Like the last resolution, it also places the current Bosque appropriation in reserve status and requires Council approval for its use. If the City does not now negotiate with us in good faith, we will have a much stronger case for enactment of this resolution.
Thanks to everyone who wrote or called their Councilors, and thanks especially to those who came to the Council meeting and who spoke. The administration's willingness to speak to us and to consider modifications and improvements of their project can only be the result of the outcry and controversy resulting from your emails, letters, calls, and comments. Please express your thanks to Councilors Garduño, Sanchez, Gibson, and, especially, Benton for their support when you get the chance.