MCALLEN, Texas – As expected, McAllen city commissioners voted unanimously to change the status of Green Jay Park from “agricultural-open space” to “light industrial,” thus paving the way for a 90-acre tech campus to be built on rare natural habitat.
In doing so, commissioners ignored the recommendation of the city’s planning and zoning board which had twice voted against changing the classification of the park.
City Hall was packed for the rezoning debate, which lasted more than two hours. Most of the speakers spoke against developing the park, which sits to the west of Ware Road and south of I-2. They included local residents, environmentalists, disc golfers, and archaeologists. They received the loudest cheers from the audience.
However, there were a number of “heavy hitters” that spoke in favor of rezoning the park. They included Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, former McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, businessman Barry Patel, South Texas College board trustee Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, IBC Bank-McAllen President Adrian Villarreal, Rio Grande Valley Partnership President Daniel Silva, and McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Josh Mejia. They all spoke glowingly in favor of tech company Zoho, which is expected to take over Green Jay Park. They predicted the company will create many high-paying jobs.
Of the city commissioners, only Tony Aguirre and Pepe Cabeza de Vaca joined Mayor Javier Villalobos in speaking publicly. Villalobos acknowledged the vote was the most controversial he had been involved in during his time on the commission.
Rio Grande Guardian International News Service photo-journalist Madison Girault was at City Hall for the debate. Here are some of her photos. Click on the image to enlarge it.
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