December 6, 2023 347 PM
I am writing to share background and clarify some facts surrounding the proposed road access to the new El Cosmico property in Antelope Hills.
Shortly after the new El Cosmico project was announced in March, I met with the Antelope Hills Neighborhood Association to forge open communication and a positive relationship as new neighbors. During that meeting, I learned that one of their biggest concerns regarding the El Cosmico project was the condition of the main thoroughfare, Antelope Hills Road, and the additional strain that El Cosmico’s traffic would create. Members of the association cited various complaints and concerns regarding the road: it was over-graded, poorly maintained, prone to extreme flooding, and that its use creates an incredible amount of dust with traffic. They asked us to pursue an alternate route to our site and proposed roads that would enter near or through Vizcaino Park. We agreed — although we were under no obligation to do so as Antelope Hills Road is a county road, and despite public speculation, El Cosmico does not have any deed restrictions that would limit our access on this road.
We began exploring the possibility of building a new road at our own expense. We initially thought that a licensed easement through county-owned land would be a good solution, but Presidio County representatives explained that constructing a public county road would be the ideal option for several reasons: Presidio County would receive a free road that El Cosmico would pay to construct and maintain; Presidio County would not assume any increased cost due to maintenance on Antelope Hills Road; and, most importantly, this would eliminate many of the concerns of Antelope Hills residents.
The first proposed alternative route to the El Cosmico property entered through the north side of Vizcaino Park, immediately to the south of the golf course. It was a straight path to our project and would use a portion of a preexisting road. Vizcaino Park’s current underutilization was a concern cited by many people, and we believed that a route to El Cosmico through the edge of the park could foster a beneficial relationship between the park and El Cosmico, a long-time local business. The common goal would be to beautify the park and make it a more prominent amenity to Marfa residents. But, after receiving vocal public pushback for any routes that would enter through Vizcaino Park, we met with commissioners Bentley and Beebe and Ruben Carrasco in mid-October to explore other options. The result of that meeting is our most recent proposed alternative route — a road traveling along the south of the Vizcaino Park fence, to the north of the roping arena. We are open to exploring, and may present, another route nearby.
Despite many comments speculating otherwise, Presidio County would not be “gifting” land to El Cosmico. On the contrary, El Cosmico would be creating a county road for Presidio County and its residents and agreeing to maintain it at our expense. Roads are a critical component of economic infrastructure, and this new (and public) road enables the county to support new economic development and businesses along the road either now or in the future.
I have always done my best to be transparent with the community about our plans for the new El Cosmico throughout the development process. In the case of access to El Cosmico, we sat with our neighbors to understand their concerns and have attempted to move forward with some of their suggestions. I hope we can make them work.
I believe expanding and relocating El Cosmico will have economic benefits for both Presidio County and the town of Marfa including more job opportunities, increased business for our local establishments, and higher tax revenues. I believe that the new El Cosmico will contribute to the legacy of art and architecture in Marfa and be a place that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The more a community strives to safeguard and enhance its unique character — whether it’s the natural beauty of the landscape or a distinct architectural charm that fits within that geography — the more it becomes a special place to live and visit. In a world where homogeneity is the norm, nurturing a community’s individuality becomes not just a cultural aspiration but also an economic necessity for sustainable development.
Unless a new and better solution can be found, I will continue to push for the new proposed alternative road because I think it’s the best option for everyone including Presidio County and our Antelope Hills neighbors. Presidio County commissioners will soon vote on whether we can build a new road. If it does not pass, we will use Antelope Hills Road to enter the property as originally planned. This will please a few and upset many. And even though some members of the community will continue to be against this project no matter what we propose, I will continue to do my best to contribute to Marfa and the economy of the town.
Austin / Marfa