Soon to be Edinburg mayor Richard Garcia says a good feeling pervades his impending second act in the city’s top leadership spot.
Following the regular meeting with Edinburg Economic Development boardmembers on April 28, Garcia told the Edinburg Review that there are “many things that need attention” in the city.
The possibility remains to continue economic development in town, Garcia said. He reemphasized his goal to link UTPA to City Hall via a proposed student corridor, add more green space to the city, continue airport development possibly using stimulus funding, and establish regional cooperation between McAllen, Pharr, and Mission.
“The feeling is good,” Garcia said about continuing in his capacity as mayor since being defeated by current mayor Joe Ochoa in 2007. Ochoa will serve as mayor officially until May 9. Garcia will be sworn in at a ceremony at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. on May 12.
Words echo from his current position as president on the EDC Board, where Garcia said he has already been in discussion with City Council members to develop a corridor between UTPA and downtown to designate as an arts or entertainment district. A proposed arts corridor would “flow” with the student population, Garcia said.
The City already approved Casa Cultura, a proposed cultural and arts center, in the former Edinburg Public Library facility on Cano Street near downtown last October. Garcia did not mention exactly where the proposed corridor would be located.
Garcia also mentioned the need for additional green space in the city. As a result he raised the possibility of purchasing Ebony Hills Golf Course, a project long shelved by city officials.
A primary concern by environmentalists in Edinburg is to ensure that the Ebony Hills property remain as open green space for future use by the community following its lease expiration on Feb. 1, 2013.
Members with the Environment Advisory Board first recommended the city permanently acquire Ebony Hills for use as a park in a letter addressed to former city manager Wendy Smith-Sturgis in July 2005.
“We have looked at the old municipal golf course and the city has a long term lease that’s going to run out soon and we need to look at the possibility of doing a purchase and making that available to the citizens, be it part golf course and part green space,” Garcia said.
Ongoing construction at the South Texas International Airport is a “big focus and target,” Garcia said. The plan would be to continue airport development and make it into a cargo airport. An injection of stimulus funds would be used to complete the runway extension, Garcia said.
“The good news is I continued the flow by moving right into the EDC Board and serving as its president,” Garcia said. “I have been completely hands on in everything happening in the city so that’s going to be a big help. Of course, beyond everything that I have mentioned our big focus will be to continue economic development and job creation.”
At the start of his campaign in January, Garcia said he would look to reestablish regional cooperation among metroplex cities that existed in his previous tenure as mayor from 2003 to 2007. At that time, mayors from those cities including Reynosa officials met once a month to discuss regional issues and resolve them, he said.
“I think we did a good job. I served the previous term, and we accomplished many things in the city,” Garcia said in January. “There’s a great increase in support. The public had a little more time to compare our management styles, and I am very please to see new people that I hadn’t seen (before).”