Select Page

Featured: Following his State of the City Address on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, held inside the newly-opened $5 million IMAX theatre at Carmike Cinemas, Mayor Richard García, speaking to area journalists in a section of the IMAX lobby, praises Edinburg for its many assets, including the diversity of its people.

Photograph By DIEGO REYNA

With more than 80,000 Hidalgo County residents estimated by the state government with various types and degrees of disabilities, Edinburg Mayor Richard García, whose hometown is the county seat, wants them and their loved ones to know they are very important to the general well-being, positive image, reputation for diversity, and successes of the city. As part of his vision for Edinburg is a landmark plan to create a “special needs” park next to City Hall that would provide recreational equipment and positive experiences for children and teens with hearing, vision, independent living, ambulatory or cognitive difficulties. “This park will be a place where children with all types of challenges will be able to enjoy the outdoors, and have fun with other kids,” the mayor said. “It will be a place where they can learn about feelings of belonging and acceptance.” García, during his Wednesday, April 12, 2017 State of the City Address that he delivered as part of the public unveiling of the $5 million IMAX theater at Carmike Cinemas, emphasized his determination for such an outdoors complex. At the State of the City address, in announcing the special needs park, the mayor was joined by several young people and their families who represented the many residents for which the park is being created. Funding for the special needs park, when a final price tag is determined at a later date, will include financial support from the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The mayor’s proposed special needs park also sends a clear message to Edinburg’s youngest residents that the city government is responsive to all of its constituents. “Everyone, no matter what challenges or difficulties we face, has the potential for greatness,” García reflected. “This park will let people know that all of our young people are part of their hometown’s goals and achievements. Edinburg’s current successes and bright future will depend on the city’s leadership providing our young people with the encouragement, opportunities, resources, and physical and emotional support to help them reach their goals and dreams.” In general, a special needs park has an all-inclusive playground that is a place where children can play together with their peers, family, friends, and neighbors without experiencing physical or social barriers to inclusion. Play components are featured that challenge and accommodate typically developing children, as well as children with autism, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other physical and developmental needs.

••••••

Edinburg EDC: Mayor García adds landmark “special needs” park, designed for Edinburg’s younger residents, to Downtown Master Plan

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

With more than 80,000 Hidalgo County residents estimated by the state government with various types and degrees of disabilities, Edinburg Mayor Richard García, whose hometown is the county seat, wants them and their loved ones to know they are very important to the general well-being, positive image, reputation for diversity, and successes of the city.

As part of his vision for Edinburg is a landmark plan to create a “special needs” park next to City Hall that would provide recreational equipment and positive experiences for children and teens with hearing, vision, independent living, ambulatory or cognitive difficulties.

“This park will be a place where children with all types of challenges will be able to enjoy the outdoors, and have fun with other kids,” the mayor said. “It will be a place where they can learn about feelings of belonging and acceptance.”

García, during his Wednesday, April 12, 2017 State of the City Address that he delivered as part of the public unveiling of the $5 million IMAX theater at Carmike Cinemas, emphasized his determination for such an outdoors complex.

At the State of the City address, in announcing the special needs park, the mayor was joined by several young people and their families who represented the many residents for which the park is being created.

Funding for the special needs park, when a final price tag is determined at a later date, will include financial support from the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

The Edinburg EDC, created by Edinburg voters in the early 1990s, is authorized to collect a one-half cent economic development sales tax to help fund its various programs. Several years ago, Edinburg voters authorized the Edinburg EDC to also use that revenue source for quality-of-life projects, such as the special needs park.

The mayor’s proposed special needs park also sends a clear message to Edinburg’s youngest residents that the city government is responsive to all of its constituents.

“Everyone, no matter what challenges or difficulties we face, has the potential for greatness,” García reflected. “This park will let people know that all of our young people are part of their hometown’s goals and achievements. Edinburg’s current successes and bright future will depend on the city’s leadership providing our young people with the encouragement, opportunities, resources, and physical and emotional support to help them reach their goals and dreams.”

In general, a special needs park has an all-inclusive playground that is a place where children can play together with their peers, family, friends, and neighbors without experiencing physical or social barriers to inclusion. Play components are featured that challenge and accommodate typically developing children, as well as children with autism, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other physical and developmental needs.

( http://leathersassociates.com/all-inclusive-accessible-playgrounds/ )

To further emphasize the point that he is proud of all constituents, the special needs park would be located in downtown Edinburg – which is one of the most visible parts of the city – immediately east from Edinburg City Hall and about a block west from the planned $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse.

“Change and improvements are happening in the center of town along the McIntyre Promenade,” the mayor said. “This year, the Edinburg City Council acquired the old Sam Houston Building (located across the street from City Hall). It will house Casa Cultura, home to Edinburg Arts.”

The McIntyre Promenade – also known as Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural – is a pedestrian-only wide street that connects the Hidalgo County Courthouse, Edinburg City Hall, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

According to its website, Edinburg Arts is a division of the city’s Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library. Its mission is to provide programs and events that promote a deeper appreciation of the arts and culture of the Rio Grande Valley.

( http://edinburgarts.com )

“The city will convert the Sam Houston Building, vacant for decades, into a state-of-the-art facility that will offer arts programs to the community,” the mayor further explained. “It will feature a food court, playscape, splash pad, indoor and outdoor stages, as well as other amenities to facilitate art events.”

At the mayor’s request to his colleagues on the Edinburg City Council, it will also showcase the special needs park.

Spearheaded by the mayor, Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural first opened in 2014, and has drawn thousands of people to many art and cultural events and festivals, such as Jardín de Arte, Festiva, Trio Tardeada, Tree Lighting, Cinco de Mayo, to name a few – and soon, to Casa Cultura and the special needs park.

Other major venues are on the drawing board to be served by the McIntyre Promenade (Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural), which was developed to link the cultural, retail, educational and government landmarks in and near the city’s downtown square.

“By locating the special needs park along the McIntyre Promenade (Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural), it will allow everyone, especially those children and teenagers and their families who will benefit from the playground, to also enjoy the many other events and facilities because they will be nearby and accessible to them,” García said.

City and Edinburg EDC leaders also have been diligently working on strategies that will result in parking, food trucks, a multi-use transit facility, office space and new retail developments, which, along with the McIntyre Promenade (Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural) are part of the city’s Downtown Master Plan, which designed to continue revitalizing the historic core of Edinburg.

( http://www.cityofedinburg.com/pdfs/dtmppdfs/City-of-Edinburg_FINAL_6_25_10-lowres.pdf )

The McIntyre Promenade (Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural) also will benefit from plans by Hidalgo County to invest $20 million for drainage improvements that will significantly reduce flooding in the region caused by unusually heavy rain.

According to the Wednesday, September 14, 2016 edition of the Monitor newspaper, “Hidalgo County and the city (Edinburg) here sealed the deal Tuesday (September 2016) on a project that promises to fix the downtown flooding, all while saving the county millions of dollars worth of infrastructure improvements needed for the new county courthouse.”

According to the newspaper, plans call for improving the current floodwater drainage system “from 12-to-24-inch pipes to 72-inch ones and called for the construction of a trunk line from the downtown square to an existing drainage ditch near Jackson Road.”

( http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/county-edinburg-agree-on-execution-of-drainage-improvement-project/article_d3b6ab66-7af1-11e6-a468-83c9529ccc8f.html )

The special needs park, along with its location, also will help shine a light on Edinburg as a community open to different abilities, ethnicities, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, and ways of thinking that unite people.

“I believe that we set the example for diversity in this great state of Texas and this entire nation. Diversity will inevitably be the norm and the future of both – right here, right now,” García remarked. “Lest not we forget that all eyes are on us, most important, our youth, who will follow our lead.”

In the coming days, the special needs park project will again take center stage for the mayor, who is scheduled to lead officials with the city and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation – of which he also serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Edinburg EDC – on fact-finding tours of special needs parks in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.

In addition to the mayor, the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors includes Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

Agustín García, Jr. serves as Executive Director of the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and the Edinburg City Council.

Mayor Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related.

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: A TEXAS PROFILE

In a comprehensive report by the Texas Workforce Investment Council, titled “People with Disabilities: A Texas Profile”, and published in June 2016, detailed information is provided about this major constituency group, which numbers more than three million individuals in the state.

Texas has the second-highest number of residents with disabilities in the United States, with almost half (48.6 percent) of Texas’ population of individuals with disabilities living in these 10 counties: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Hidalgo, El Paso, Cameron, Montgomery, and Fort Bend.

In its executive summary, the Texas Workforce Investment Council highlighted some of the many assets that people with disabilities offer to the state in its economic development.

That summary follows:

“Individuals with disabilities enhance workforce diversity and can offer employers unique skill sets and perspectives. People with disabilities must think creatively about how to solve problems and accomplish daily tasks. This resourcefulness can translate into innovative thinking, new ideas, and alternative approaches to dealing with business challenges. Because people with these attributes have the potential to strengthen the Texas labor market, individuals with disabilities are a valuable resource for Texas employers and the Texas economy.”

The full report is available online at:

( http://gov.texas.gov/files/twic/Disabilities_Profile.pdf )

The mission of the Texas Workforce Investment Council, a 19-member panel which includes 14 individuals appointed by the governor, is to assist the governor and the Legislature with strategic planning for and evaluation of the Texas workforce system to promote the development of a well-educated, highly skilled workforce for Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is wheelchair-bound, “in 1984, was a 26-year-old law school graduate of great potential but no renown when he was hit by a falling tree while jogging in Houston, crushing his spine and leaving him paraplegic (a person affected by paralysis of the legs and lower body, according to the Austin American Statesman.

( http://www.mystatesman.com/news/greg-abbott-and-the-new-politics-disability/OZ8OtF2zMTw2MdzVrhe7HP/ )

••••••

For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

Share This

Share this post with your friends!