Joey Gomez

The Edinburg Environment Advisory Board has agreed that being the first “CoolCities” community in the Valley first entails that Edinburg be a more walk oriented city.

Edinburg is not beyond the point of feasibility of connecting all points of the city with sidewalks, according to the EEAB which held its first in a series of public meetings on Dec. 10 to consider the options of making the city more walkable.

The Board has begun looking at the importance of sidewalks in the downtown area, areas around schools, and areas connecting neighborhoods with local grocery stores.

The Board said it wants to focus in on quality of life, sustainability, livability, and wants the community to be proud of the city. Unlike larger cities, Edinburg is in a good situation with its people living in the downtown area with its residents closer to all the business centers, according to boardmembers.

“We want these things to be a forethought rather than an afterthought,” said Mark Peña, boardmember and coordinator of Edinburg’s “CoolCities” climate change initiative.

“We would like to see sidewalks and hike and bike trails a priority when we design a city, when we are planning it out,” Peña said following the meeting last week. “The consensus here today was that we would look at the importance of the downtown area, areas around schools, areas connecting neighborhoods with local grocery stores.

As the first Rio Grande Valley city to sign onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, Edinburg has recently pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The board invites the public and any organizations that are interested in sidewalks and making Edinburg a more walkable community to attend this public meeting and share their comments and suggestions. The board hopes to develop and submit recommendations on a pedestrian plan to the City Council in early spring.

It’s next meeting is planned on Jan. 14 at Edinburg City Hall.