The City of Edinburg and Edinburg CISD outlined their joint projects as well as their respective “wish lists” for 2010 at a special joint meeting between the city and the school district on Feb. 4.

At issue were upcoming traffic and parking improvements around South Middle School, a widening of Alberta Road in anticipation of a new elementary school by August 2010, a wastewater treatment facility slated for Brewster Elementary, and an update for the downtown revitalization project initiated by the city last year.

In return, the district outlined their requests in no less than seven items including drainage, parking, recycling, a “Safe-Route” to public schools, the possible reduction of district fees at municipal facilities, a joint venture to fix parking spaces, as well as the consideration of an outdoor amphitheater for school and public programs.

“We need each other for projects like the downtown revitalization plan, as well as some of our schools and their infrastructure that the city can help us with. It’s a joint effort with our future plans as well as those plans we have for our schools,” said school Superintendent Rene Gutierrez. “It (the meeting) was very constructive. The city and the district need to work hand in hand for the citizens and the students of the community. This was a great meeting, and it’s a step in the right direction to meet more often and work together for what’s in their best interest.”

Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia says the meeting was a “good first step” for both the city and the district.

“We all had our wish lists. We’re feeling each other out, but I think we are on the same page. Money is always a problem, but it seems like collaborating and working together this way, we can figure out to do some good old horse trading that can save some taxpayers money,” Garcia said.

“I think there are some real problems with traffic control. The drainage issue is certainly a problem. The joint paving projects are ongoing projects we always need to deal with,” Garcia said. “The downtown revitalization project, I think both the district and ourselves, have taken care of basic needs and now it’s a matter of quality of life which is making the downtown revitalization project is all about.”

An interlocal agreement between the City and the District executed on May 2009 includes re-striping of the parking area at South Middle School, as well as 1,100 feet of fencing, installation of 1,300 feet of sidewalk, relative signage and right-of-way dedication to be done by ECISD.

The city plans to construct the new facilities over the course of the summer. Design, construction management, utilities, and field inspection at South are to be handled by the city. New developments added to the original agreement include the addition of improved traffic signals and pedestrian crosswalks on 4th Street, as well as a turning lane on Freddy Gonzalez.

The proposed end result would add five lanes on 4th Street, two northbound and two southbound with a turning lane, and two new traffic signals in front of the school that is prone to severe traffic backups during peak hours. As many as 98 vehicles have been backed up during the 3 p.m. pickup time for students, according to city officials.

The total cost of the project has risen from it’s original estimate of $126,000 in May 2009 to $343,208 in 2010 following redesign and the addition of reclaiming, according to the City. ECISD would be responsible for $144, 776 of the cost of the project, which includes sidewalks, turning lanes and fencing. The City would take on $198,000 of the cost, which includes striping, traffic signals, turning lanes, traffic study, and surveying.

The school district is also proposing a $500,000 wastewater facility located on-site, and solely for the use of the Brewster campus in north Edinburg.

ECISD is formally requesting that the city assist with the wastewater plant. The proposed agreement includes maintenance of the facility, implementing a permit with the Texas Commission and Environment Quality (TCEQ), monitoring effluent water, and adding licensed operators required to run the plant.

Annual cost to run the facility is $20,000 per year. The cost of maintaining the equipment is still unknown, according to the city.

“We’re basically taking the wastewater treated, making the water good, and then discharging it,” city Engineer Isael Posadas said at the joint meeting.