This morning’s Phase I Downtown Master Plan meeting was PACKED! It was good to see so many people at city council chambers interested in what plans are being prepared for the Laredo downtown.
I saw La Sanbe’s KeyRose there with his videocamera so I will let him tell you the details of the meeting. As for me personally, well… I went because as a downtown resident, the plans for the downtown business area affect me and my neighbors. Residents were mentioned as an afterthought – lumped in with downtown merchants. While I am happy Les Norton was present to represent downtown merchants and all the good they are doing for downtown business buildings, I really wanted to say to him “don’t forget to pay attention to your run-down building you use as a warehouse in a residential area that is a structurally beautiful part of Laredo history but forgotten.”
My expectation for Kell-Muñoz Architects or Hickey Peña (the local architects collaborating) is that they also ask those who are here 24/7, not just 9 – 5. Businesses will be offered low-interest loans or grants for upgrading their facades but will local residents? Maybe our city leaders don’t realize that some of us bought downtown INTENTIONALLY to preserve and enhance this city. I bought a house that had been abandoned for 2 years and am still struggling with all the city red tape to fix the structural basics – getting rid of termite damage, fixing broken windows, installing a new roof where it bowed with water damage, etc. Councilwoman Cindy Liendo has helped with my call for ADA compliant sidewalks by putting them on the capital improvement plans but… hopefully we will see more than just sidewalks to return our neighborhoods to their beautiful past. Just to be sure at least one voice is heard, I’ll be attending every meeting possible and commenting where I am allowed to comment. I am hoping some of my neighbors will too.
You can check out the website (rediscoverlaredo.com) that is set-up for this project and as City Manager, Carlos Villarreal very clearly stated, it will take this plan from the city and cooperation from private owners to work together and make it happen. (Kind of like the tick “problem” of El Cenizo – it takes the owners to upkeep their property because it can’t be done by just the government. I know that is not the topic of this post but just thought I would throw that in because it was so obviously an attempt at a political smear with the complainant wearing the shirt of the mayor’s opponent. Some things just are the responsibility of the homeowner.) By the way, the website has some awesome pictures of the city but be patient, it is very slow for some reason and it is text-intensive; like this post! I better quit writing now before I bore myself.