MEDC requests fund for food park upgrades

Although Mission Food Park has only been in operation for a few months, business has been rapidly growing, according to Daniel Silva, the chief executive officer for the Mission Economic Development Corporation. Because of this, the EDC is already making plans to upgrade the park to better serve the vendors and patrons.

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At the Feb. 25 MEDC board meeting, Silva requested approval to budget 50 percent of the rent derived from the food park to be put into a dedicated fund for park improvements. Previously, any money that has gone into the park has come from a general facilities account for the Center for Education and Economic Development because the Mission Food Park occupies space on the property.

“We currently don’t have any money set aside for the park. We have a facilities account which is for in and around the building,” the CEO said. “So our facilities budget allows for us to do improvements that are permanent fixtures. But there’s going to be other things like lighting and ultimately better things for the trucks like outdoor wash stations and grease traps and all of those types of things that we’d like to be able to allocate some of the funds to.”

Other potential upgrades include more power stations for more food trucks, on-site bathrooms and a game area. Silva said the EDC is modeling Mission Food Park after San Antonio’s Chicken N Pickle, an outdoor entertainment complex that features food and drinks vendors, seating areas and a variety of yard games. In November 2020, the EDC renewed their conditional use permit with the City of Mission for an additional five years, allowing Mission Food Park to remain open for that much longer. However, there is not a timeline for if or when the proposed updates will take place.

“Right now my staff and I are trying to assess need, and that’s what we’ll be presenting at our next meeting — needs and priorities. I mean, the sooner the better, obviously,” he said. “Outdoor restrooms would be great because we’re using the 5×5 [Brewing Co.] restrooms, we’re using the Jitterz [Coffee Bar] restrooms, which are fine, but people are staying longer because it is a nice area to be out and be with the family.”

More immediately, the Mission EDC will have to define the park’s parameters by adding fencing around the area. One of the vendors is in the process of acquiring an alcohol sales license, and due to Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission regulations, Mission Food Park needs specific boundaries of the premises. Silva said the EDC is looking at something aesthetically pleasing and not “super intrusive.”

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At the meeting, the board tabled the item, following a motion from Secretary Aissa Garza. President David Deanda said he wants a more detailed breakdown of the cost of the improvements, the cost of the ongoing monthly maintenance and the cost-benefit. Silva is in the process of putting together a more concise package to be presented at the March meeting.

“We’re going to continue to strive and bring activity and bring fun and events for the community to be able to partake in,” Silva said. “And hopefully when COVID is over, we’re going to be able to have an area that the city of Mission and the surrounding area and all of South Texas is going to be proud of. That’s our goal.”

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