MCALLEN, RGV – The city manager of McAllen says Hidalgo County’s planned $190 million bond issue to improve the county’s drainage system is welcome but not enough.
Roy Rodriguez spoke about drainage improvements in his city at a McAllen Economic Development Corporation board meeting on Thursday.
“The county just announced a $190 million bond issue. We applaud that. We think that number is too small for Hidalgo County but it is great start,” Rodriguez said.
Recently, Hidalgo County Commissioners Court said it would ask voters to approve a $190 million bond issue for drainage projects in the November election. It could raise the county drainage district’s tax rate by three cents. Some of the funds would go towards the long-awaited Raymondville Drain project.
Rodriguez said the incredible flooding that occurred June 19-21 has left many cities in the Rio Grande Valley “scrambling.” However, he said the City of McAllen had a good plan in place, thanks to a bond package approved by voters last May.
“Obviously, we had a horrible rain event in June. We needed rain, we just didn’t need that much. And a lot of people got hurt in our community. A lot of folks are still seeking help. We are doing everything that we can to provide them assistance,” Rodriguez said.
“Municipalities are not the place to go to get a check to fix your home. So, we are doing everything we can to help with that information. But, nevertheless, we have a plan. If you think about McAllen and everyone else around us, there is a lot of scrambling going on right now and it is understandable, by cities around us.”
Rodriguez said the City of McAllen would be hiring engineers in September of this year to do the design work for an upgraded drainage system.
“We will be receiving the design money in September 13, $2 million for drainage and $2 million for traffic. In 2019 we will be digging up stone, all over town. You are going to be happy we are doing drainage improvements. You are going to be unhappy that you won’t be able to travel through our streets,” Rodriguez said.
“We are committed to doing all of these projects in about a 36-month period, which is very, very aggressive. But, we need some real relief out there so we are committed to doing that.”
The day before he spoke about drainage issues to the McAllen EDC board, Rodriguez gave an in-depth video interview to the Rio Grande Guardian – on the same subject. In the interview, Rodriguez defended the city against criticism that residents on the south side of McAllen have been marginalized. He also said the city’s plan to improve drainage was being tweaked to take into account the impact of the June, 2018, flooding.
Here is the the interview:
In his report to McAllen EDC, Rodriguez also spoke about McAllen’s economy.
“Things are looking better with our economy. Sales tax is rebounding. I am not going to call it any more than that for now but it is doing well. Construction in McAllen continues to really bloom. We have been talking about that for three or four years. Two years ago we had a record-breaking construction year in the McAllen.”
Rodriguez noted that McAllen is now being tagged a “boomtown.” He was referring to a list in consumer finance website MagnifyMoney that placed McAllen No. 10 in the nation for fast-growing boomtowns. A number of Texas cities were high up the list, with Austin at No. 1, Dallas at No. 7, San Antonio at No. 9, and Houston at No. 11.
“So, somebody in some other state recognized us a boomtown. That was pretty cool,” Rodriguez said.
In his remarks at the McAllen EDC meeting, Rodriguez also gave an update on Anzalduas International Bridge.
“We are committing a minimum of $20 million of city money to expand Anzalduas – it is a $50 million price tag – to introduce full cargo to Anzalduas, finally, after ten years,” Rodriguez said.
He said the chances of having fully-loaded trucks on Anzalduas “look good” and that if McAllen has to spend more than $20 million to achieve that goal, it will.
“If our number has to increase, I think the city commission is committed to doing whatever we need to get that done. We want to be in construction in 2020 or 2021,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also gave an update on Quinta Maztlan, a nature reserve that is popular with birders.
“We have a very ambitious plan that is probably north of $20 million to build that out. We have a lot of community support. We have got some great board members that are supporting us with that master plan. In fact today they are looking at the final version of the master plan. We received $5 million from the state to get that started. So, that is moving along,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also said the City of McAllen’s parks would be improved and expanded, including, with the help of state funding, the development of a new park in north McAllen. He said the city’s new budget is currently being crafted and there would be more money for staffing for parks maintenance, police, fire, and code enforcement.