Opinion: From the desk of the City of Port Isabel’s city manager

Special to the PRESS

From the Desk of the City of Port Isabel’s City Manager

With the unfortunate political turmoil happening in Port Isabel, I , Edward Pro Meza, city manager of this beautiful and unique coastal community, would like to remind our residents about the positive projects and programs that are being done to increase the quality of life and enhance the safety of our community. It has been my goal to insure transparency in every aspect of the City’s operations and departments and take pride in having the most dedicated and hardworking staff that anyone could ask for. I am chief administrative and executive officer of the City. I am responsible to the City Commission for the administration of all the affairs of the City.

This is an update of projects and programs that this current administration has accomplished during this past year. With the hard work and dedication from our mayor, city commissioners and especially the city staff, the City’s quality of life has increased tremendously. Staff have aggressively applied for grants to fund projects that include the following:

1) Health and Safety. Promoting healthy lifestyles for our citizens and visitors with funds from the University of Texas Houston Health Sciences Department in allowing the City to hire a community health worker who provides classes and articles in the local paper promoting healthy eating and lifestyles, and funding community projects that include the repair and creation of sidewalks on the north side of Highway 100 from Champion Street to 4th Street for a safer environment for our pedestrians. This year’s project will include an Urban Linear Park that will encompass four blocks on Yturria Street from Railroad Street to Washington Park which will provide a safe haven for cycling, walking and running in the residential areas.

2) Historic Preservation. Working with agencies such as the Port Isabel Economic Development Corporation, the Texas Historical Commission, U. S. Economic Development Administration, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Preservation Texas, the Office of the Governors Texas Leverage Program, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation the City has, or is in the process of, preserving our historic resources that include restoring the Historic Champion Building’s façade to its 1800s appearance; restoring the historic Port Isabel Yacht Club to its former 1920s glory and reusing it as a regional Culinary Arts Academy, and preserving the Light House and the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage to its former glory reflecting the 1850s and 1880s.

3) Beautification. The Port Isabel Public Works department, the Beautification Committee and organizations such as the Driftwood Garden Club have worked hard in making our green spaces, parks, public buildings, and cemeteries clean and beautiful. Public Works department adorns the mediums and lighthouse with decorations reflecting the season and holiday. TPWD will fund a linear trail that will start at 4th Street and end at Michigan Street in Laguna Heights. This linear trail will connect the Arturo Galvan Park with the Bejareno/ Westmoreland Park in Laguna Heights.

4) Festivals. City staff and volunteers have been successful in planning and operating the various festivals the City offers to its residents and visitors alike including Pachanga in the Park, Lighthouse Market Days, Lighthouse Establishment Cinema, the Fourth of July Parade, Day of the Dead Festival, Christmas Lighting Festival, Easter Egg Hunt, and the Santa Mobile which increase the pride in our community and celebrate our diversity which makes Port Isabel special.

5) Marketing and Advertising. The City is blessed with its Marketing Director and marketing team that promotes Port Isabel locally, state wide and nationally. Our Marketing Director serves on the Texas Tropical Trails that promotes our area state wide. We are also members of the Downtown Texas Association, Preservation Texas, Texas Travel Industry, and the Texas Association of Convention and Bureaus. We have wonderful websites that showcase Port Isabel and what it has to offer. We are also on Social media and market Port Isabel on face book. The City will soon open its Visitor Center in the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage which will promote Port Isabel’s hotels, restaurants, businesses, sites and what it has to offer.

6) Environmental Projects. The City with the funds from the General Land Office, CEPRA and other funding sources are in the process of creating a natural park which boasts a natural shoreline which will promote fish and wildlife habitat named the Arturo Galvan Coastal Park. The City has also been working successfully with UT Brownsville in locating an area which will house a Marine Studies Lab Campus which will be located on the eastside of the Swing Bridge on Garcia St. in Port Isabel. This campus will be dedicated to the preservation of our Laguna Made Bay and estuaries.

 7) Streets. South Shore, East Railroad, and Tarnava streets will be repaired this summer with funding from the Community Development Block Grants and other streets not covered by these funds will be repaired using the City’s Street Repair Fund. The City will also tackle its pot hole problems by hiring the help of a professional company.

8) Entrance to Modern Venice. Again with the unpredictable weather, the entrance of Modern Venice known as the “Fingers” is being worked on with an amendment to the City’s current application for dredging. The City is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find a suitable area to place the spoils from the dredging. The City is working on a short term and long term plan to keep the entrance open for boats to enter and leave the Fingers year round. The “Fingers” is used as a safe harbor during hurricanes, and has a popular public ramp and park named Pompano Park that is used frequently by locals and visitors alike.

9) Recycle Center. The City will be revamping its Recycle Center making it more efficient and more user friendly. There will be an office and permanent attendee during specific hours of operation to help and monitor the receptacles.

10) Housing. There are housing projects that are being built or planned to keep residents living in Port Isabel which includes Las Joyas, a coastal living subdivision on Highway 100 and the New Neptune Apartments which will be proposed to house 10 units at market rate prices which will replace the former dilapidated housing project and compliment the neighborhood.

11) Revolving Loan Plan. The City’s Economic Development Corporation offers mini loans and competitive loans to locals who want to open a business or enhance their existing business.

12) Other Departments. Our Police Department, EMS, Enforcement and Fire Marshall have kept up with training and updating equipment to insure the safety of our residents and visitors. Our Library carries a wide variety of books and CDs. During the summer they offer educational programs for the young and young at heart. Our Museums of Port Isabel preserve and interpret the interesting history of this maritime community from the 1700s to the present. Entrance to our museums is free to all our teachers and students in the Point Isabel Independent School District. Our building department takes pride in helping and guiding those wanting to build or repair structures in our community.

13) Event and Cultural Center. Our new facility has been used for parties, weddings, quinceañeras, corporate meetings, festivals, etc. We have had a wide variety of cultural performances also.

14) Animal Shelter. Our shelter is unique in that it is a non-timed facility. This means that our goal is to keep an animal as long as we can in order to find a home with the help of the Laguna Madre Humane Society. Our facility has blossomed into one that cares for the animals and its atmosphere is friendly to animals and animal’s best friends- humans. The City has been the first to have a mandatory chip to be placed on the animal as well as a mandatory spay and neuter program.

15) Finance and Transparency. The City takes pride in its ability to operate financially in the positive and is audited by a professional accounting firm yearly. It is also audited by every organization and agency that either grants or loans funds to the City. So transparency is a must. Commissioners are given reports weekly from every City department to keep them up with the operations of the City.

With the support of our residents, the City of Port Isabel will continue to prosper and become one of the finest places to live on the Texas coast.

Ed Meza. Port Isabel city manager

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