Friday, March 30, 2012

City Juggling

The city has made strides in providing the public with some infrastructure improvements, such as water line upgrades, and the Bartlet Ave. extension.  And in recent years we've seen a big push towards adding more green spaces.  But on issues of helping to create jobs, very little has actually materialized.  I understand the deflated economy, and the violence in Mexico have stood in the way of progess, but I can't actually point to one instance where the city has actually played a major role in job creation, whether it's this administration or the last.  I welcome my readers to correct me on this.

To hear the mayor sometimes, you get the sense that job creation is his main priority; Until the city is receiving federal funds for public safety, then his priority is public safety.  The Economic Development Advisory Committee recently made note of the tremendous response that employers saw at the Eagle Ford job fair held at the LEA.  Apparently, it was so impressive that communities to the north want to do the same.  Good for Laredo, but I don't know if I can give them full credit since they didn't have anything to do with what goes on deep in shale formations. 

Instead let's look at projects that center around retail.

Maximiliano at LaredoTejas talks about the outlet mall project on the Loop, the Town Center Mall.  Word is now that the developers want to buy the land instead of leasing it from the city.  Of course, the city wants to appraise its property higher for x reason(s).  The outlet mall that was going to be situated downtown never came even though it looked like things were moving right along.

And I haven't even heard a thing on the outlet mall that was going to be standing somewhere along I-35.  Let's not forget the downtown revitalization plan.  From the LMT story above:
City Manager Carlos Villarreal said he would discuss the delays with Kell Munoz, the San Antonio design firm leading the efforts, and set a timeline for additional meetings in Laredo.
What, no meet-ups in Austin with Kell Munoz anymore?

I realize that every councilmember's district has its needs and potential but the city has tried to do too much.  In discussing the transportation bill at last weekend's retreat, it seemed like every representative wanted those funds for a particular project.  Cuatro Vientos, supposedly, still has a ways to go.  Charlie San Miguel mentioned the need for widening work on Del Mar.  And Jorge Vera said that Mines Road is going to need help if traffic is going to lead to and from the new Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course.  Certainly the projects are there, but I don't know if the funding will be available for everything.

With roads I can see how several ideas can be tossed around.  But with economic development and retail growth, perhaps it's better if the city commits to one plan and sees it through.  Take one project and finalize it, please.  Then you can move on to the next thing.  It would save a lot of time and money, I think.  If the golf course is going to be what it's been said it's going to be, then the development around it will come.  If the baseball stadium is going to live up to all its hype (until it fades) then business will pop up around it.  Again, some progress has been made, but perhaps it's time to step back and reconsider outrageous thoughts of bus terminals that will shut out two very important city districts.  Look to your successes and go from there.

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