ALTON, RGV – Steve Peña, CEO of the City of Alton Development Corporation, says the city experienced a 250 percent growth in population over the last 15 years.

This makes Alton the fastest growing city in the Rio Grande Valley.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, Alton had a population of approximately 12,000. The projected numbers for 2017 are approximately 17,000–resulting in a 24 percent growth. However, Peña told the Rio Grande Guardian the city’s grown as much as 250 percent in the last 15 years.

“It’s amazing how much Alton has grown since its humble beginnings,” Peña said. “Back in 2000, we were just a population of a little over 4,000 and according to the census projections right now we’re almost at 17,500. It’s projected that in 2020, we’ll have a population over 20,000. So that’s pretty big and a lot of growth for a small community.”

Some examples of growth include the grand opening of Alton’s first city bank, Lone Star National Bank, yesterday, June 12 and the city’s recent approval of the Alton Park Master Plan.

Peña says the city received $500,000 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The City of Alton Development Corporation (CADC) will match those funds and the city itself is also contributing $1.5 million for retrofitting and redesigning their five parks.

The master plan will interconnect our five parks together with a hiking and biking trail,” Peña said. “We’re all in conjunction with the other cities with the healthy initiative items that are coming through, so now we’re all going to interconnect with the Edinburg, McAllen and Mission hiking and biking trails. It’s going to take us another two years, but by that time we’ll be interconnected throughout the whole MSA.”

MSA stands for Metropolitan Statistical Area.

In the past 12 years, Peña says the city has been focusing a lot on the business sector. Since then, he said, its sales tax has improved tremendously and continues to do so. New businesses are coming in and will reside in a plaza for which construction will begin in the next month or so. Another project for the city includes the widening of Mile 5. The street will feature five lanes running from La Homa to Taylor.

In the next two years, Alton Blvd/Conway Ave. will have a very different face, Peña said. A lot of new businesses are coming in so you’re going to see a big difference within Alton Blvd from Mile 4 to Mile 6,” Peña said.

“As for the widening of Mile 5, pretty soon in the next four to five years you’re going to get on Trenton, head west and you’re not gonna know when you pass Alton or not. It’s all going to look alike. So this is a lot of where the big growth is gonna be happening in the next few years.”

Another aspect of the growth can be seen in the work of Alton Fire Department. It has to respond to emergencies outside the city limits, where a lot of new colonias have sprung up in recent years. Peña said fire mapping differs from city boundaries.

“The city limits only hold what you can spend your tax dollars with. The fire mapping goes further north and further south when it comes to the city limits such as the McCook area,” Peña said. “We still provide those services because it’s through the county and the county reimburses the city for any of those costs when we go out there to help the colonias.”

Salvador Vela, the mayor of the City of Alton, was among those who attended the grand opening of Lone Star National Bank. He acknowledged the growth the city’s been experiencing and says he will do what he can to stay close to his people.

“People are what make a city great. Once you have the population businesses start coming in,” Vela said. “And based on the population growth that’s exactly what’s happening. There’s a lot of stuff going on and coming in. I like what our people are doing. They’re honest working people and that’s what you need in a community.”