Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Traffic Calming

Our recent poll indicated that the vast majority of you believe that speeding is a problem not just on the main arterials of Piedras and Alabama, but on our neighborhood streets as well. 93% of the respondents said that speeding is a problem.

Traffic calming is a central concern in the City of El Paso now and, in fact, the City has begun a program to help better manage and calm traffic in our neighborhoods. I really recommend that you take a bit of time and at least scan through the Citizen Guidebook for the City of El Paso Traffic Management Program.

Our Neighborhood Association will apply for some traffic calming measures. At the very least we will get some expert guidance from our traffic engineers.

Just Google "Traffic Calming" and you will find a host of sites. is a good source for information as are the pages on traffic calming from the Institute of Traffic Engineers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

April 25th ¡Hola Vecinos!© E-Letter

In an emailed letter to all of her constituents, our City Council Representative, Mayor Pro Tem Susie Byrd, addressed the rather complex and detailed revision of the subdivision ordinance – a land development reform. It is lengthy but you can read it in its entirety in the Newspaper Tree: Byrd on Developing New Communities.

There is additional information on the City web site about the recommended revision of the subdivision code. Unfortunately, you only have until 5p.m. today to comment about these recommendations either by emailing or calling 541-0241. Since City Council does not take action on the recommendations until this coming Tuesday, you may want to email your thoughts to Councilmember Byrd at before then.

Hope you all have discovered our blog and are reading it: There’s a new poll on whether you have plans to make any “green” improvements to your home this year. In the next e-letter, I’ll report about the last poll on traffic and discuss the El Paso program for safer traffic throughout the City neighborhoods.

Also, please email me ( and ask me to add you to our Google Groups. This simply is the best way for you yourself to get urgent information out to all of your neighbors and to join in discussions about issues that are relevant to our neighborhood.

Many thanks go to Bobby Byrd for alerting the Parks Department to the fact that the doggie bag dispenser in our Park was out of bags. If you see something that needs attention, just call or email Victor Flores: 915-873-5370 or

Here’s a special event you and your family can enjoy tomorrow – Saturday April 26th: Día De Los Niños/Día De Los Libros, the “celebration to promote literacy, education and health to young people regardless of social, cultural or economic condition. The event will go from 11:00 until 6:00p.m. at Washington Park. This annual festival has two principal goals: to create a family event that people of all cultural, social, and economic backgrounds can attend and enjoy; and to promote the importance of literacy and education.

Finally, this from Marylou Robnett of the Redd-Mulberry Neighborhood Association: There will be multiple garage sales on Saturday, April 26th, starting at 7:00a.m. “These sales are conducted at the individual residences within the neighborhood and the streets involved will include La Mirada Circle, Los Nietos, Soledad, Calle Olaso and Mulberry. All of these are located in the Upper Valley.”

¡Vaya con Dios!

Friday, April 25, 2008

El Paso: A Tree City USA

Today at the Texas State's official 119th Arbor Day celebration, El Paso was designated a Tree City USA. This is a huge victory for our City of El Paso Tree Board now led by my dear friend, Eileen Parr Karlsruher. It's also a big win for our Urban Forester, Oscar Mestas as well as Ray Bader and Wynn Anderson.

There were many dignitaries there but I most enjoyed hearing from the President of the West Texas Urban Forestry Council, Jennifer Barr Ardovino and the Executive Director of Keep El Paso Beautiful, Katherine Gunter Palafox. Palafox spoke boldly about banning all those plastic bags that smother ocotillo, prickly pear and just about everything else.

A major goal of the WTUFC and the Tree Board is to restore the canopy of El Paso with native trees. There are several good places online for you to learn about native trees and other native plants for your yard. There's the Tree and Plant List of the City of El Paso. WTUFC offers a tree selection guide. The Texas Forest System has both a custom and an express guide. Finally, the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens offers a list of Chihuahuan Desert Plants.

Let's plant trees. Let's restore our canopy. There are other ways to reduce water consumption through good xeriscaping rather than "zero"-scaping our yards with concrete that absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night - making for some pretty hot summers 24/7. Cut Energy Consumption: Plant a Tree!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Arbor Day in El Paso

You won't want to miss the Arbor Day celebration beginning at 10 tomorrow morning, April 25th, at Veterans Park, 5301 Salem Street in Northeast El Paso. Here's the write-up in the weekly newsletter, Texas Gardeners' Seeds:

El Paso selected to host statewide Arbor Day celebration

Trees in El Paso? To the outsider, this may seem like a reasonable question. But El Paso natives have long known that the desert is home to a unique variety of trees — and they are ready to show the rest of the state they are "Tree Amigos."
El Paso has been selected as this year's host of the state's official 119th Arbor Day celebration on April 25. The day will begin with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at Veteran's Park. James Hull, state forester and director of the Texas Forest Service, will be Master of Ceremonies.
"Arbor Day is the day we set aside to celebrate the value of trees and the positive ways they contribute to our communities and environment," Hull said. "El Paso was selected as this year's host city to honor the tremendous advancements in its urban forestry programs in recent years."
During the celebration, El Paso will be recognized as a Tree City USA for the first time, a designation made by the National Arbor Day Foundation. In addition, the state winners of the 2006 and 2007 Arbor Day Poster Contests, reigning from the same El Paso elementary school, will be honored.
The West Texas Urban Forestry Council, located in El Paso, is "Bringing Back the Green" to the El Paso region by encouraging residents to plant trees, which specifically benefit desert environments by providing shade and helping conserve water. Individuals interested in planting trees in El Paso or in any location across the state can go online to the Texas Tree Planting Guide at to find the types of trees best suited for different areas of Texas.
"It's not just about beautifying yards and streets, but just as much about teaching people how to strategically use trees to improve air quality, reduce erosion and reduce energy consumption," said Oscar Mestas, El Paso's urban forester for the Texas Forest Service. Communities across Texas can recognize Arbor Day by celebrating the ways that trees enrich our lives and the environment. For information about ways to celebrate Arbor Day in your community, visit the Texas Forest Service web site at

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Chihuahuan Desert

The map above gives you a sense of our Place in relationship to the ecoregion known as the Chihuahuan Desert. For more information, visit the Chihuahuan Desert Home Page of the University of Texas at El Paso.

A great place to visit and to take visitors to our City is the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus. In fact, a visit to all of the exhibits at the Centennial Museum is well worth the trip.

In fact, mark your calendars for this weekend’s Flora Fest at the UTEP Centennial Museum. Flora Fest is the annual native plant sale. It begins Saturday morning, April 26th, at 9a.m. You can find native plants from 9 to 5 on both Saturday and Sunday. It is best to get there first thing on Saturday as plants are quickly bought-up at this very popular, annual event. Here is a list of plants that will be available. Plants that are native to our desert environment require less water and are better adapted to pests, diseases and weather conditions that plague non-natives.

Also get to know the El Paso Chapter of the Native Plant Society, become a member or just attend some of their very educational events. It's a good way to get to know our Place.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thoughts on Earth Day

For me Earth Day is always about "Place" - a specific Place - a home, a neighborhood, a region. Saving the planet gets a bit blurry when we imagine the problems caused by deforestations and mining and famines in places faraway. It is not that I think that we shouldn't care about the other places and devise policies that support indigenous peoples and their economies while sustaining Mother Earth. It is just that it is here in this Place where I am most immediately responsible - where I dance with air and fire and water and earth.
What is this Place - this neighborhood in El Paso along the Rio Grande in the Chihuahua Desert nestled beneath ancient formations of rock and sediment? Take a moment to watch a short clip on YouTube about our ecoregion. It puts things in perspective about our Place.
Largest of the North American deserts and rich in animal and plant life, our Chihuahua Desert is young geologically. It is a recent ecological development in this area that goes back a billion years with the formation of the Castner Marble that we can see along Trans Mountain Road. A nearby but ancient caldera can no longer be seen although it once exploded with the force of a thousand Mt. Saint Helens and fried an ancient beach and created a lovely white crystalline strata in the North Franklins. (It was a bad day for algae.) The forces of rifts and faults over millions of years uplifted the Franklin Mountains from ancient seas. Deep beneath the soil of the Hueco Boson is a rift that is one of the three deepest inter-continental rifts in the world - rivaling the Great Rift of Africa where populations of hominids evolved over millions of years to become modern homo sapiens. This Place has been home to volcanoes, igneous intrusions, lava fields not to mention prehistoric creatures such as the woolly mammoth who once wandered near present day Santa Teresa.

This Place, our Home, is rich and deep and high and old - very old geologically and yet very young as an ecosystem.

My friends in the Pacific Northwest do not understand how I could have left the vast green beauty of the Cascades and the deep glacial waters of Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish or the beauty of Puget Sound. Indeed, I miss those places - but this place is just as vast with flora and fauna. This spring that we are now enjoying is abundant with more species of birds and populations of birds than I have ever seen in El Paso. A Phainopepla now sings above the Bird of Paradise flowers in my backyard. The other day I swear I saw a Gila Woodpecker busy for bugs on a yucca on Richmond and Kentucky. Mexican Hummingbirds hover wherever I look.

Some call the beauty of this place Surreal - and it is and Psychedelic too. But it is also just a true natural gem.

So, I hope that we can develop City and County policies that support sustainability and prevent unnecessary sprawl and preserve arroyos and restore the lost urban canopy with native trees. I hope that we can find something to do with all of the trash that flies about and mars the ocotillo and prickly pear of our mountainside and neighborhoods. Wind is a fact but so too is careless behavior.

Loving this Place begins with each of us taking responsibility. And, yet, that sounds so juridical. Try this instead: It begins with our singing with bird and coyote and fox and dancing with the wind and venerating with souls afire all the colors of the desert day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

April 18th ¡Hola Vecinos!© E-Letter

The Newman Park Neighborhood Association has no better friend than Judy Gutierrez. Judy is Mayor Pro-Tem Susie Byrd’s Assistant. She has been a steadfast proponent for our Association and has guided and supported us on many occasions as we have worked through the maze of the City bureaucracy.

Judy worked for 6 years as a report taker for the Police Department, 3 years as a secretary for Economic Development and 3 years now for Susie Byrd. Susie reports that Judy “is the hardest worker at City Hall. She cares a lot about getting things done for the constituents of District 2.”

As a licensed massage therapist Judy also works with her sisters at Body Matters, 2105 E. Yandell. Whatever kind of massage you are looking for you can get there – Swedish, Hot Stone, Lymphatic or Neuromuscular. Body Matters also does manicures, pedicures, reflexology, paraffin treatments, body wraps, cellulite reduction, facials, microdermabrasions, body sugaring and much, much more. Call them at 532-0111 for an appointment to make yourself feel really good.

Tomorrow (April 19th) is Judy’s birthday. All of us in the Newman Park neighborhood wish her Happy Birthday and many, many years. Kudos and olés for Judy!

Be sure to visit our official Newman Park Blog where you can read all about tomorrow’s Party for the Planet at the El Paso Zoo and get some great Green Tips by Laura Zweber. After you read the tips, take a moment to take our poll about speeding traffic in the neighborhood.

Also be sure to sign up for our own Google Group. When you do so, you can broadcast urgent messages to your neighbors and join in discussions of interest to the neighborhood. You can let me know to add your name to the list or you can go to, sign in and apply for membership.

Just last night, Gabrielle Torres broadcast this important message:

“Hello neighbors,Wondering if anyone is missing a black solar powered light lately? One was stuck in my front lawn this evening. The funny thing is that the other day someone took one of our tops to your solar powered lights making it unusable. They might have tried to take the entire thing but we have it rigged so it does not come off unfortunately we didn't think someone would just take the cover. Email me if you need your light back.”

If you are the one missing the solar powered light and you haven’t signed up for our Google Group, you have a great reason to do so now.

Finally, mark your calendars now for next weekend’s Flora Fest at the UTEP Centennial Museum. Flora Fest is the annual native plant sale. It begins Saturday morning, April 26th, at 9a.m. You can find native plants from 9 to 5 on both Saturday and Sunday. It is best to get there first thing on Saturday as plants are quickly bought-up at this very popular, annual event. Here is a list of plants that will be available. Plants that are native to our desert environment require less water and are better adapted to pests, diseases and weather conditions that plague non-natives.

Get to know the El Paso Chapter of the Native Plant Society, become a member or just attend some of their very educational events.

¡Vaya con Dios!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Party for the Planet

In honor of Earth Day, the El Paso Zoo will again have their annual Party for the Planet tomorrow, April 19th, from 9:30 to 4p.m.

With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, it is only fitting for us to get some GREEN TIPS from our very own Laura Zweber:

"April 22 is EARTH DAY ! Our Earth takes care of us, so let's take care of our earth! Here are some ideas on ways you can make a difference: 1) Buy organic produce to help farmers that do not use poisons on their crops. 2) Pick up trash in your neighborhood, on scenic drive, or anywhere. 3)Plant a native tree or shrub. 4) Check out Ecohaus web site for their beautiful recycled counter tops next time you're remodeling. 5) REDUCE ! Buy in bulk to reduce packaging and use a timer when you water the lawn. 6) REUSE ! A lady in Portland Oregon has torn down an old house and will reuse everything from the old house to build a new one. Reuse plastic grocery bags or return them to the bins at WalMart or Albertsons. Buy a few cloth bags to take grocery shopping. 7) RECYCLE ! Even old computers and cell phones can be recycled.

"Here are some things you can do with old or mismatched socks: Use as a dust rag or to buff your car or shoes...make a muscle relaxing pack by filling a cotton sock with uncooked rice and sew the end. Put in the microwave with a glass of water (to prevent a fire) for one minute. Hang around the neck, or on sore muscles. When moving, use old socks to pack glasses and other breakables. Kids can make hacky sacks, purses, puppets, or dolls. Tie 15 or so socks together to make a jump rope.

"Have fun, be creative and think of how you can use something in a new way before you throw it away. Let's take care of our earth everyday in a special way."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

This week (April 13 - 19) is National Crime Victims' Rights Week. You can participate by joining in a Memorial Walk that begins at 9a.m. at Ascarate Park. (Registration begins at 8a.m. You can also register online.)
The Crime Victims' Rights Council of El Paso brochure says:
"During this week, crime victims, survivors, and those who serve them will join together across America to promote victims' rights and services, and to educate our communities about the devastating impact of crime on victims' neighborhoods, schools, and our nation as a whole."

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. If you know about or even suspect child abuse (or the abuse of persons over 65 years of age or disabled persons), you are required by law to report that abuse. For child abuse, the local El Paso hotline number is 915-542-4535. You can also report directly to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services by calling 1-800-252-5400 or going online to the Statewide Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Reporting System.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has a plethora of information and resources online about child abuse (and other forms of abuse). You can also go to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Be sure to learn the signs of child abuse and neglect.

Also get to know the Child Crisis Center of El Paso 2100 N. Stevens El Paso, TX 79930.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Visit Newmanpark at

If you haven't picked up a copy of the April El Paso Scene, be sure to do so. The picture displayed won First Place and was taken by our official Newman Park Neighborhood Association photographer and our neighbor, Marco Milazzo. The title is "Foggy Morning"

Marco has done something else for us. Check out He will be uploading pictures of our events to this site. You can view them, download them as a jpeg with several size options or purchase pictures for yourself or loved ones. (Marco was quick to tell me that he does not make money off this site.)

The two pics in the right hand column were taken by Marco and are available on smugmug.

We are fortunate to have the talent that we do in the neighborhood. Be sure that you click on the new link to view and hear Los San Patricios. I will be adding other links to our blog list.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Scenic Sundays!

Our neighborhood couldn't be luckier. This Sunday begins Scenic Sundays when Scenic Drive from Rim Road to Alabama will be closed from 6 to Noon. We don't have to drive to begin our scenic walk, bike ride or run. All we have to do is step out our front doors, take a deep breath, and join in the fun. There couldn't be a better first entry for our new Newman Park blog. Here's the official Press Release from the City:

City Kicks Off Summer-long Scenic Sundays Event

The City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department, District 2 Rep. Susie Byrd and District 1 Rep. Ann Lilly this Sunday will officially open Scenic Sundays, a summer-long event where El Pasoans, their families and pets are invited to walk, jog, skate and bike along Scenic Drive.

Beginning April 6 and lasting through August 31, Scenic Drive, from Rim Road to Alabama Street, will be closed to vehicle traffic from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. with barriers provided by J.A.R. Concrete. The El Paso Police Department will have officers patrolling the route to ensure all participants can safely enjoy the event.

Last year’s Ciclovia, which opened Rim Road for residents to enjoy to a host of outdoor activities, was a tremendous success with over 5,000 participants in its one-month span. Scenic Sundays will extend that unique opportunity for Sun City residents to enjoy El Paso’s beautiful weather and breathtaking scenery throughout the summer months.

District 1 Rep. Ann Lilly, District 8 Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Parks and Recreation Open Space Coordinator Shamori Whitt all were instrumental in organizing Ciclovia and Scenic Sundays and they will be available for interviews as Rep. Byrd is attending a conference in Austin this weekend.

Please help us promote this exciting event. For more information, contact Rene Leon with Rep. Byrd’s office at (915) 541-4996, or at