Sunday, December 8, 2019

Civic Center Grounds Are Changing

This photo is from March 1, 2019.  It shows the civic center ballroom being gutted.  It has since been demolished to make room for administrative offices for Laredo ISD officials.

I'll update this post as progress is made.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Beware The Architects

A new plan for downtown has been unveiled, courtesy of a Mexican architectural firm.  I haven't been paying close attention to all that city hall has been up to in recent months, but I thought that the empty city blocks near bridge 2 were going to be spruced up and maintained as open spaces.  I can't believe that the aim is now geared towards a string of buildings that may have a hotel, a movie theater and a park.

I don't even want to guess at the amount of money that was paid to the designers to come up with the artistic rendering pictured above.

Any plans of me writing a book about corrupt Laredo politicians have just been shelved.  Instead I'm going to develop a coffee table book about all the artist renderings that have been proposed for our downtown area.  Images to be included are of: the Kell-Munoz master plan of 2011; the convention center next to La Posada Hotel; the bulkhead/border wall along the Rio Grande; ferris wheel; and now the campus-like schematic at the I-35 terminus.

Nine years ago, a similar plan was put forward.  The same amenities are being proposed now: retail, entertainment and public space.

The city namely Roberto Balli can't get decent landscaping for the handful of blocks near bridge 2, but now we're supposed to believe that the downtown district is going to be transformed completely because an architect came up with some drawings?

In 2012, Les Norton was really blunt about the revitalization plan that the city was pursuing.  He questioned the city's motives and the perks bestowed upon city leaders.

If by some chance this new plan were to become reality, we cannot even begin to imagine the challenges that such a construction project would pose.

(blog post contribution from June 2011)

City hall has had some dubious dealings with architects in the past.  Alas, a new one has entered the picture.  Let's not hold our breath on miracles happening in our near future.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Stay Tuned For Upgrade

I was heading home from a Thanksgiving gathering when I noticed the scene above.  It appears like the former Suzuki of Laredo facility is due for a major overhaul.  We'll see how much damage the excavator can do.

This brighter image I borrowed from Google Maps.  This side of the block-long building is facing Santa Ursula.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Photo That I Found

The Killam family has been celebrating their 100-year presence in Laredo with TV and newspaper ads.  The latest entry included a vintage photo of the Main Boys Club.  The building looks like it hasn't changed at all over the years.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Trees Will Grow If You Let Them

(Photo via FB)

City officials invited the public to a tree-planting event billed as the "Return of the 100 Acre Woods." It took place Saturday at North Central Park.  The park is ten years old, according to details released by organizers.

In 2010 I wrote about this same kind of event, back when Gene Belmares was in office.  Man, that's like two political weenasos ago.  Belmares wanted to create an environment where the 'foliage will change color in the fall, creating a true "New York Central Park" feel' for outdoor enthusiasts.

One tree that does well in this climate and has a remarkable fall foliage is the Chinese Tallow.  You can spy one at the northeast corner of Clark and Meadow.  I digress.

(Info via FB page event invitation)

I love that Laredoans help in giving public spaces some TLC.  It's a win-win for everybody.  The thing I take issue with is that outdoor settings are over-managed.  With trees, especially, only several types are planted.  Outdoor design in Laredo ends up being predictable and sparse; and locals try to create scenes that are not natural to our area.  

In the photo above, you see volunteers gladly posing next to a new planting.  (Mulch should not suffocate the base of the trunk.)  Close behind you see a small native tree, probably a mesquite.  That tree will likely be mowed down, in due time, to keep things tidy.    

A true 100 acre woods, I think, would do well by having native trees alongside hand-picked varieties.    Letting native trees mature can save a lot of energy and money.  And ten years from now, when the city hosts another 100 Acre Woods shindig, the park won't look as bare as it does in the photo above.

Our approach needs to change.  And it wouldn't hurt to have an arborist's input in all of this.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

No Fat Chicks

Paul Young's looking-for-love ad has been appearing in the newspaper for a week or more.  Man needs companionship.

Paying Off Their Donors

The City of Laredo has apparently purchased more properties in the downtown area, along Houston and Santa Maria Ave.  The rationale for doing so is to provide space for two departments that are currently housed at the Bruni Plaza library: building development and planning & zoning.

The now-former owner of the properties was a political insider.  He has made out like a bandit.

The city owns other properties downtown, but they can't be used for needed office space because they're already spoken for, according to Councilman Balli.  According to him, they've got things lined up for: the Plaza Theater, the old federal courthouse, the Southern Hotel, the Canseco house, the Slaughter house, etc.

It's been six years since the federal courthouse was donated to the city.  I have no idea what it's being used for, other than a police substation.

The Plaza Theater has sat vacant for about two decades.  It's basically laying there in waste.

It's been three years since the four vacant blocks near bridge 2 were going to be spruced up.

Property after property is acquired by the city and they just sit there.