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Laredo's Binational River Park group to visit May 26, discuss virtual security options for border in its plans - Energy And Water Development Corp

Laredo’s Binational River Park group to visit May 26, discuss virtual security options for border in its plans

After establishing a workshop date during the last Laredo City Council meeting, the Webb County Commissioners Court accepted an invitation by the Binational River Park working group to attend a future workshop among other partners and agencies.

The workshop will discuss items such as funding and the ecology of the river, and it will include experts involved in the San Antonio River Walk to provide information.

According to RGISC, the workshop will be held on May 26 at the Laredo College Economic Development Center. It will see members of the San Antonio River Authority discuss multiple funding mechanisms and members of the design team to have a more in-depth look at the project.

RGISC Executive Director Tricia Cortez indicated that officials from the city, county, law enforcement agencies and the college have been invited to attend.

During a presentation by Rio Grande International Study Center Board President Melissa Cigarroa, the working group highlighted the ongoing progress made by both them and Overland Partners during the short time the project has been in development.

The presentation reiterated its core goals and what the park project entails, including it being a 6.2-mile-long greenbelt connecting north and south Laredo with Nuevo Laredo.

Cigarroa emphasized that the park is not just a “park,” it is a greenbelt that signifies ecological restoration as well as unifying both cities. This is why the working group invited hydrologists, river experts and botanists to the planning table.

Aside from ecology, RGISC indicated that meetings with Border Patrol and Customs were integral to the project planning and discussions. Cigarroa added that their input on how to improve security for the area was incorporated into the design plans.

“A really important part of that that Border Patrol has always advocated are the virtual technologies, or the virtual wall technologies, which includes cameras, different security sensor systems, improved line of sites by taking care of invasive species,” she said. “All of that is incorporated into this plan

As the park idea began approximately on Dec. 6 and led to the creation of the Binational Working Group, it ultimately led to last week’s Washington Trip by a Laredo-Nuevo Laredo delegation to discuss the Binational River Park project, which local officials hope to be to the area what the River Walk is to San Antonio.

Prior discussion has seen members of Overland Partners including founder Richard Archer state that as the sole drinking water source, the Rio Grande restoration would bring better quality of life and would coincide with the current city mission of improving the water infrastructure of the city.

Furthermore, work has started with a $52 million federal grant to restore the Chacon Creek area as well as an investment of $200,000 by North American Development Bank to Nuevo Laredo and COMAPA, the local water utilities, through the bank’s Project Development Assistance Program.

In February, Nuevo Laredo Public Works Director Ignacio Quinones-Pena expressed that there is a major need to clean the river, starting with how the cities address the wastewater. He added that the binational support sets a stage for even more cooperation between nations, whether it be in the restoration of a clean river, a binational park or more.

“The goal is to improve the capacity of this endangered river to provide us with safe drinking water now and in our future,” Cigarroa said during the first May city council meeting. “We look at the 19-year window that we have to improve the river’s ability to provide us with safe drinking water.” 

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