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Even after the Hidalgo County bond election secured $190 million for drainage improvements, Mission is responsible for an additional $24.5 million to cover additional in-city modifications.
This week, the city of Mission held a joint workshop to discuss what the TEDSI Infrastructure Group has found in the beginning stages of the Mission drainage improvements. Following the workshop, the regular council meeting included an authorization for a contract to AKRiiFORM, LLC for the Lions Park renovation project.
The city of Mission held a joint workshop with the drainage committee and council. The workshop included a presentation by Ponciano Longoria with the TEDSI Infrastructure Group, who went over their purpose and objectives on the next phase of the drainage projects scheduled in Mission. He was also there to present a bid on the master plan that the group has been working on.
“The purpose and objective of this plan is to develop a plan for the city of Mission, to plan, design and manage its drainage systems, to protect life, property and infrastructure, and to provide guidance for future developments,” Longoria said, adding they would identify inadequacies and constraints of the existing systems and develop a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that would prioritize necessary projects first.
Longoria explained the steps of creating the CIP, which included meeting with the city, using FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) maps for development, soil data from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), land use data, rainfall data and flood complaints they have received throughout their process.
“We also met with the [Hidalgo County] Drainage District to get some other inputs,” Longoria said. “We put everything on GIS (Geographic Information System mapping) which was phase one – we collected all the data of all the storm sewers and drain ditches, we delineated drainage basins using various softwares.”
After comparing existing and proposed systems, TEDSI came up with a CIP. Longoria then presented a NRCS chart explaining how much rain constitutes 5-year, 10-year, 50-year and 100-year storms. The chart didn’t take maintenance into account, and currently Mission’s drainage design takes the frequency of 10-year storms into account.
One by one Longoria went over several drainage basins and flood concern areas in Mission that TEDSI would be working on as the project moves forward, including the Stewart Drainage Area, Astroland Park and the Stewart/Glasscock areas.
Components of the CIP include channel replacements, culvert replacements and detention basins for the drainage ditches, and system enlargements for the storm sewers.
Each area requires different adaptations to improve the issue, including drainage ponds and networking systems along with upgrading existing systems and outfalls. In their plan, TEDSI is accounting for 100-year storms in Mission.
“This presentation is in general,” Longoria said. “The actual report will be more detailed.”
The Hidalgo County Drainage District will be working on the Mission Lateral and Mission Inlet soon, but the remaining areas that need to be addressed will be covered in the CIP presented by TEDSI, which is estimated to cost $24.5 million after construction, a 20 percent contingency and professional services for a geotechnical engineering survey.
By the next workshop, the council and committee will have access to the full report so they can ensure every area of concern is covered and accounted for. According to TEDSI and the council, they will be seeking grant funding and awards to pay for the improvement projects.
Mayor Armando O’caña noted that any and all public comments and inquiries regarding drainage projects will be allowed to be made at the next workshop, to be held Mon. Feb. 24 at 4 p.m., before the next city council meeting.
“This report has not been seen by any individuals except the engineers that have been working on it,” O’caña said. “People can formulate good, constructive questions for the engineers. I feel that is the best approach we can do at this time given the fact that this is a brand new report.”
Regular Council Meeting
Parks and Recreation Director Brad Bentsen presented an item regarding the upcoming Lions Park renovation project. The city is aiming to make Lions Park an all-inclusive space for people and children of all abilities.
Council authorized the department to execute a contract with ARKiiFORM, LLC for the pre-programming of professional services and architectural-engineering services for the renovations.
The pre-programming of professional services will cost $4,900, and the architectural-engineering services will be at a fixed rate of 7.5 percent. The item was approved unanimously, with no discussion.
Charlie Garcia III, the principle architect on the project and the board president for the Mission Consolidated Independent School District, was also present at the meeting. He is overseeing the Lions Park project, along with the ongoing roof renovation projects underway at the Speer Memorial Library and Mission Historical Museum.
During citizen’s participation Hollis Rutledge of Hollis Rutledge and Associates, Inc. spoke on a public comment made by Mike Silva of the Mission Fire Department. At the Jan. 13, 2020 city council meeting, Silva stated that the firefighters missed out on a grant that had the potential to award the department approximately $250,000 to $500,000.
Rutledge presented a chart to the city council detailing that the firm has brought over $5.84 million in the last few years for the Mission police and fire departments.
“We have brought funds that have had a direct effect on the safety and quality of life for all residents of the city of Mission,” Rutledge said. “Our record with Mission is successful and impeccable.”
According to Rutledge the failure to submit an application for the Border Zone Fire Grant (due Dec. 2, 2019) was not the firm’s fault. He said they reached out to the Mission Fire Department three different times in Oct. and Nov. last year to see if they were interested in applying, as they did with other municipalities.
“We do not know for sure who within the city was responsible, but it was not our firm that failed to submit,” Rutledge said. “We never received a response [from Mission]. Our firm got responses from other cities and directly submitted their applications.”
Rutledge said that Silva’s comments were “unjustified and false,” and did not verify the facts. He called the statement defamatory, and said his firm would be pursuing a legal remedy in a court of law.
“We at HRA, Inc. take pride in our accomplishments and the benefits our work has done on behalf of the city of Mission and its citizens,” Rutledge said. “Our record speaks for itself: factual and successful.”
This article originally appeared in the Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 issue of the Progress Times.