On Monday, Mission’s city council authorized the expenditure of $90,000 for emergency repairs to the city’s Madero Sanitary Sewer Lift Station where Public Works Director Robert Salinas said a routine inspection last week revealed a portion of the more than 30-year-old facility was ready to collapse, posing a potential threat of a major sewer backup in resident’s homes.
Salinas said collapse of the “effluent force main thru lift station wet well” could have impacted residents on the city’s south side from Granjeno to Madero. The structure in question is a cylindrical concrete-lined well located near the Madero water tower and Norberto Salinas Park where sewer water is pumped in under pressure and then pumped out toward the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The well acts as a collection reservoir where once sewer water rises to a designated level the well’s sump pump activates, sending sewer water down the line toward the waste water treatment plant. Lift stations are used where the natural grade is not conducive to move sewer water down the line by gravity alone.
“We do daily inspections and my supervisor there called me and said, ‘Hey, you know what, we have an emergency. This thing is about to collapse,’” Salinas told the Progress Times during a break in Monday’s council meeting for executive session.
Salinas said work crews have utilized external pumps to bypass the well while it is reconstructed. During the same time he said deteriorating cast iron piping into the well will be replaced with durable Veritech PVC piping. He said the work replacing the deteriorating concrete and piping would take about four weeks to complete.
NBC Festival attendance down
In other matters Monday, the director of Mission’s National Butterfly Center reported the number of people who paid $330 for the full four-day experience of the 22nd annual Texas Butterfly Festival was less than half the number who participated last year. Held at the peak of the butterfly migration season, people can register to attend tours to public and private lands, many of which are only accessible to visitors through the festival. The tour also includes iconic sites such as the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and La Sal del Rey Lake. Food for festival registrants is prepared by members of the Texas Chef’s Association Rio Grande Valley Chapter.
NBC Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright told council members only 76 people were paid participants this year. During the council’s Oct. 23 meeting Treviño-Wright reported the number of preregistrations was down by 94 persons from the same time last year. She said she feared the cause was the controversy over the potential placement of a border wall on NBC property.
In July Treviño-Wright ran off crews sent by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol who were found on NBC property clearing trees and brush for the border wall. Incidents involving work crews surveying on iconic sites such as the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge garnered national and international media attention.
During the Oct. 23 meeting Treviño-Wright thanked the council for passing a resolution against a border wall and explained the impact the loss of just 94 patrons would have on the local economy.
“Those 94 people – and it’s not just 94 because those people would register and still bring their spouses and such – if they only stayed for four nights, and if they each spend $172 a person, which the McAllen EDC values each visitor at, that would be a loss of dollars spent in the city of Mission of $65,000. And most of these people come and stay for a full week. So the negative economic impact is tremendous,” she said, adding she still needed the council’s support lobbying state representatives to oppose the wall.
On a potentially positive note Treviño-Wright said among this year’s paying participants was a member of a group from Singapore called Butterflies Without Borders.
“It has 7,000 members and he was absolutely blown away by Mission, Texas, and says we rival that part of Asia which includes Thailand, and those places in terms of our beautiful butterflies and their varieties. And he will bring that message back so maybe more people from Singapore will be traveling to Mission, Texas for the next festival,” Treviño-Wright said.
She said reporters from San Antonio’s Express News and from Audubon Magazine covered the event and the border wall controversy, the latter publication with 2.75 million subscribers.
“We certainly hope that next year the festival comes back and I will continue to do everything in my power in terms of marketing and publicity for this event to make that happen,” she said.
The council accepted Treviño-Wright’s report without comment.
Council approves zoning change, more growth
Also Monday the council approved the rezoning of 22.59 acres of agriculturally-zoned property to single family residential property on the city’s south side.
Mission Planning Department Director Jaime Acevedo said the developer, South Texas Infrastructure Group, plans to build an upscale gated community of homes on 8,000 square foot lots on property located along the northwest intersection of Stewart and Trinity Roads. The council unanimously approved the rezoning.
The council authorized payment of $49,400 to the Rio Valley Switching Company to replace 63 feet of the railway crossing at Miller Road in Mission. Details on when the project would commence were not included in the documents provided to council members.
The council approved spending just under $29,000 to hire an engineering firm to conduct a traffic study along Tom Landry Street between Kika de la Garza Loop and Conway Avenue. Currently there are a trio of three-way stop sign intersections along the approximately 2,400 foot stretch of roadway which acts as the east-west conduit of Business 83. City Engineer Juan P. Terrazas told the council the study was intended to determine how the traffic can move more rapidly along the section of road.
No more voting at Bannworth Park Gym
Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas said he would ask Hidalgo County Elections Department officials to find a different polling location than the gym at Bannworth Park. The mayor’s pledge followed a complaint from Mission resident Antonio Galvan during the council’s public comment period. Galvan said he was not provided adequate notice by the city he would not have use of the gym for a youth basketball program he was operating in the gym.
“It’s not correct for you to take facilities away from the kids for elections,” Galvan told the council.
Salinas and City Manager Martin Garza also pledged to determine an appropriate rate to charge operators of for-profit youth programs after Galvan complained he was subsequently banned from using the gym for his program because he charged participants a fee when he knew of a volleyball program that charged participants that had been using the gym for five years.
“We’re going to take care of it and it will be done the right way,” Salinas said.
Alcohol permits issued
The council gave its approval for the sale of alcohol at three city restaurants, one the first of its kind in the United States.
A two-year permit was granted to Incredibowl, formerly Valley Bowl, located east of Ragland Road on the south side of Business 83. Planning Director Acevedo told the council the bowling alley’s new owners refurbished what had been a bar and pool hall in the building into a game room.
The council gave a one year renewed permit to sell alcohol to Marisco La Chivis restaurant located on Shary Road north of Expressway 83. Acevedo said the restaurant has been selling alcohol at the location since 2015.
The council granted an alcohol permit to a new restaurant in town also on Shary Road near the expressway. Acevedo said El Tizoncito los Creadores del Taco Al Pastor, located in the 200 block of Shary Road, was formerly the Russo’s New York Pizza restaurant which also had served alcohol. Acevedo said the Mexican restaurant chain plans only to sell beer and wine in a restaurant-type atmosphere. He said the chain originated in Mexico City and that the Mission restaurant is the chain’s first in the United States.