McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez held an informal yet informative townhall meeting last week at the new convention center, doling out financial facts for the City of McAllen. Showing the property and sales tax trend slipping into the negative realm in 2010 and projected 2011, he offered solutions that he knew would not be applauded by all.

Bringing up the tender subject of the possible sale of the old convention center, the water reservoir acreage off Bicentennial Blvd. and Westside Park, he furnished solid reasons to have the residents consider the sale of these properties.

Explaining how the city had formed a Strategic Business Planning Committee consisting of, McAllen Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Steve Ahlenius, McAllen Economic Development Corporation President/CEO Keith Partridge, McAllen City Manager Mike Perez and Greg Townsend, strategic planning director for the City of McAllen, the committee has developed a plan for McAllen’s future.

During the townhall meeting, the mayor, choosing to use their recommendations, said the city would like to pass the bond elections with affirmative votes to develop a Sports Arena and totally move the current Botanical Gardens to a new location.

His emphasis for those gathered was that in these economic times, now is the time to build since it would cost less to build right now and it would cost less to borrow the money.

When people inquire into purchasing city owned land, they have their own agenda.

“We don’t decide where they want to go,” Cortez said. “They decided where they want to go.”

This is the first townhall meeting in the process of making the citizens of McAllen informed of the city’s agenda, as we head toward elections in November.

However, after the townhall meeting a survey was passed around and the results were tallied, the mayor released a statement reversing his request.

“After reviewing the results of our survey, I will recommend to the city commission that we only consider an election authorizing the sale of general obligation bonds for the purpose of acquiring land and building sports athletic facilities,” said the release.

“I will recommend that we not (paper’s italics) place the sale of Westside Park on the Special Election and will further recommend that we partner with Valley Land Fund to assist us with the development of a plan to improve McAllen Botanical Gardens.”