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Austin Judge hears arguments on downtown arena

Austin Judge to hear arguments on Downtown Arena

Key witnesses both for the city of El Paso and those against the downtown arena project testified in Austin on Monday.

The city's case is the voters’ approval of the 2012 quality-of-life bond, which included the project. The project's ordinance mandated it had to be somewhere in Downtown El Paso.

Opponents say voters didn't necessarily insist the arena had to be downtown; they simply voted for a multi-purpose cultural and performing arts center.

They're pushing for the judge to put the issue back to a vote or rule the ordinance doesn't require the arena to be downtown.

In addition to that, other parties are arguing civil rights of the people who live on the site have been violated.

Judge Amy Clarke Meachum has been keeping both the city and opponents of the project in line, and she’s keeping everyone on a five-hour time frame to plead their case.

The city argued in opening statements that the language of the 2012 voter-approved quality-of-life bonds allowed for the city to create a facility meant for entertainment.

This could include sports and other events.

They said the whole idea of the arena being for sports has been the main issue for opponents.

Those opponents said in opening remarks that the ordinance never mentioned sports whatsoever.

The attorney for the city asked former City Manager Joyce Wilson how she decided what was to go into the arena.

She testified that various meetings were held and community outreach was done to get input about what people wanted.

"In 2011 the mayor and council at the time made it known that they wanted to go back to the voters for the next bond election," Wilson said.

A handful of witnesses were scheduled to take the stand, including city CFO Mark Sutter and Deputy City Manager Dionna Mack, among others.

Dr. Yolanda Chavez Lleyva represented herself in this case and said she was fighting for the people who live in Union Plaza.

"It is something that I feel very strongly about and that I knew it was true, so I thought that was very important. The civil rights of the residents have been violated," Lleyva said.

The hearing continues Tuesday at 8 a.m. KFOX14's Ryan Hill will be inside the courtroom again. Follow him on Twitter for updates.

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