McAllen City Commission OKs Agreement with School District on Morris Park Development
Feature Photo: Aerial map of the project site for the Morris Park improvements. Image: Google Earth/VBX Graphic.
by Adolfo Pesquera
McAllen (Hidalgo County) — The City Commission recently approved an interlocal agreement with McAllen Independent School District on the development of Morris Park.
The McAllen Parks and Recreation Department will complete improvements at Morris Park in partnership with McAllen ISD that will service both the public and students. Morrive Park improvements will consist of a trail development, landscaping and irrigation, amenities, lighting, and site improvements.
The estimated cost is $995,000. The vote taken by city commissioners on Oct. 25 also authorizes Parks and Recreation to proceed with bidding on the park improvements.
Morris Park, in its present condition, is just a grassy field owned by the school district that is situated between Morris Middle School and Dr. Pueblo Perez Elementary School. Its eastern boundary fronts North Main Street and to the west it faces North 16th Street.
The school district has for many months sought the city’s support in creating a park that would include a playground and related improvements to serve the schools and area residents. The agreement states in part that “the city desires to make certain improvements for use by the citizens of the city and students of the district, within the Morris campus, and the city and district have determined it is in the best interest of the parties for improvements to be made.”
Just prior to the City Commission vote, City Manager Roel Rodriguez informed them that while the parties had worked out the details for months, the school district trustees recently withdrew the Memorandum of Understanding. While the two parties had agreed on a site plan, the district trustees were now asking the city to set a specific dollar amount and enumerate every element as part of a final agreement.
Rodriguez advised that the city could not know in advance the exact cost. While the budget is $995,000 and Parks and Recreation would strive to get the best price, the city should not tie itself to any revised agreement where they might be committed to over budget costs. Rodriguez recommended the commissioners approve the agreement “as is,” and it passed on that condition.
The agreement does describe the following improvements:
Construction and installation of a decomposed granite trail
Landscaping and irrigation
Park amenities (to include Kwik-Built system, shade structures, benches, bike racks, trash receptacles, and chess tables)
Site improvements (to include restroom facility, entrances with stairs and ramp, and fencing)
The estimated timeline for the project is contemplated to be 18 months from execution of the MOU, based upon the following estimated schedule:
Fiscal Year 2021-22 project will consist of installing decomposed trail, landscaping, lighting, and park amenities.
Fiscal Year 2022-23 project will consist of landscaping and irrigation and site improvements.
The site plan includes a pavilion. However, the agreement states it will not be constructed until the parties agree on how to fund it.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.