So, the “Bozz” (Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell) wants to spend $14,000,000 on a new convention center and hotel. I wonder how many of the local hotel/motel owners and operators were consulted on this.
A look at the State report on occupancy — http://www.sourcestrategies. org/texas/reports/ TXT15Q2CNTY.pdf — shows that occupancy is at 55 percent and dropping, which leaves 3,500 rooms available every night.
And, some of these places have facilities for conventions, if there were any conventions to be had.
So then, where is the plan that will guarantee occupancy of the new facilities sufficient to pay all the bills and debt, as well as to increase the floundering hotel/motel businesses already here.
Or is this money just to come from the Economic Development Committee budget until it is paid, and then what money is the EDC supposed to operate on?
Then, how many other convention centers are in the region, already established, with experienced crews and fighting tooth and nail for that same business.
An easy drive around town shows more empty buildings and land that even God couldn’t fill up and yet we are supposed to let the city “bozzes” build more.
How about the Municipal Auditorium? A beautiful 1,800 seat theater with a stage and all the fixins for a wonderful night life, but it sits empty. Is this a precursor to a new convention center with a building that covers a full acre of space? Just because you build it, does not mean they will come.
Walmart just closed two stores in the area, and a lumber yard just closed in Harlingen. The Mall is half empty and holding on with its fingernails.
It seems that there are a whole lot of other things that could be done for $14,000,000 to bring people here, like making that Municipal Auditorium the Broadway of Texas. Like making events happen here every day and every week that fill up all the restaurants and motels that are already here. Like making Harlingen the Capital of south Texas rather than the Poorest Place in the USA.
Then, are we just supposed to trust that $14,000,000 is all going where it is supposed to go, or does the plan include a civilian audit committee to make sure that everything is all hunky dory?
It is leadership like this that got us where we are. Things need to change.
Terry Westerman, Harlingen