Looking ahead to at least 15 years of potential growth, city leaders say they have started the first phase in a long term business plan for Edinburg.

City officials as well as administrative heads and personnel from the Department of Solid Waste celebrated the opening of a new solid waste facility located at 8601 N. Jasman Road in north Edinburg.

The 22,000-square-foot, $4.5 million facility brings together all administrative and operational offices for the department. The complex now includes an onsite motor pool, which houses all fleet maintenance and shop personnel, a new permanent building for scales, as well as a new truck parking canopy.

"I think when you look at what the overall vision of the city is, in order to provide the services our residents require, we need to build our infrastructure and it has to start with the offices, in order to house the personnel and respond to our residents," said Ramiro Gomez, director of Edinburg's Department of Solid Waste.  

The city owns about 1,100 acres, which it has reserved as landfill space. The landfill itself is significantly smaller, encompassing more than 300 acres, which is measured in "life years," according to Gomez.

"Along with that, it's all the operational requirements. It's getting the necessities that we need, the trucks and the motor pool to keep up with their maintenance," Gomez said. "There is a lot of staff, a lot of operational needs the department has that we're hoping the facility now meets."

Phase I of the new facility accommodates for at least 15 years of growth, and marks the first significant expansion of city services since the 1950s, according to mayor Richard Garcia.  

Expansion of the new facility will take place in five total phases of construction as the city grows, Garcia said.

"I think the phase part of it is the key," he said. "What we have done today gives us room for 15 years of growth. The city hadn't done much in expanding services, as far as everything from city hall to water plants and that sort of thing since the fifties. I think they probably thought their planning was going to last a long time, but with the growth rate it didn't come anywhere close to being enough, or satisfactory."

Edinburg's population more than doubled over the last 10 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The official population of Edinburg is 77,100, a 59 percent increase since 2000, making Edinburg the third largest city in the Rio Grande Valley, behind McAllen and Brownsville, according to the Census. 

"Everything is concentrated together so we can better serve the public and our customers because after all, this is a business," Garcia said. "The idea is to plan ahead and hope that you're wrong, that you're going to grow faster than you are. That's the idea of phasing this. For now, I think what we have done should be good in our present speculation for the next 15 years."