This article originally appeared in the Friday, June 1, 2018 edition of the Progress Times
Known as the “City on the Grow,” Alton has been investing in several developments over the last few months to prepare for a growth in the city, which the U.S. Census Bureau says is coming.
Last week, the bureau released the annual population estimates which showed the City of Alton has grown by more than 3,360 people since the 2010 Census count.
Alton is followed close behind by the city of Edinburg which grew by 18 percent in the last seven years for 90,280 residents.
The City of Elsa came in third with nearly a 15 percent increase since 2010, then Pharr with a little under 13 percent growth since 2010. McAllen meanwhile added nearly 9 percent, or 11,677 more people to grow its population to 142,696. Mission grew to a population size of 84,424 by adding 8.7 percent, or 6,734 more people.
“These are exciting times, anytime you see this kind of growth there’s always something going on in the city and it’s so gratifying to see it,” Alton City Manager Jorge Arcaute said.
Arcaute credited the growth in population to the Mission and Sharyland school districts which he says are making more people move to the area to get their kids enrolled in their schools. He also credited the city’s tax rate which at 44 cents per $100 valuation, making it the third smallest tax rate in the county.
“This is really typical in growth patterns in the Valley, people have a way of finding the places where expenses are lower and move here, creating commercial growth in the city which will end up creating a growth in homes in the area and the cycle begins again,” Arcaute said.
“That’s how big cities got to where they are now.”
Arcaute also said the numbers may not include the figures from three housing projects the city started developing two years ago to create 450 units in the city’s south side which could potentially house 1,000 residents.
This comes after the city broke ground on a local branch of Lone Star National Bank last December. The bank is expected to add 15 jobs to the city and will host a red-ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, June 12.
The city also opened a Stars Drive-In-Alton’s second burger chain restaurant- last December. The city also opened a digital library-housed inside Mission Collegiate High School- last January that will be used as a pilot program until the city gets its own library, Arcaute said.
Later this summer, the city will hold a red-ribbon cutting ceremony for the Alton Regional Training Center. Located across the street from the Alton City Hall, the center will house local organizations such as the non-profit La Union del Pueblo Entero and will be a place for firefighters from the city and other departments to receive more training.
Last April, the city received a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to expand the Josefa Garcia Memorial Park-located at the corner of Bryan and 5 Mile Road, it will expand from 5 to 55 acres.
The city also plans to open an urgent care center in the city as part of a partnership with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.
“These are the kind of things that will make the city a lot more attractive,” Arcaute said. “People will look at Alton a whole lot differently now. We’ll see libraries and full-fledged parks within the next few years that will help with how people view the city.”
Currently, the city’s fire and police department has 15 firefighters and 21 full time police officers, respectively, Arcaute said.
“They’ve grown quite a bit since I started working here a decade ago and even though we’re well staffed, we’re going to monitor the population to make sure we don’t fall behind on being staffed,” Arcaute said. “It’s all about making sure the public feels safe.”