Town makes headway on new ecotourism center

LAGUNA VISTA — The small town is making headway on an ecotourism center they hope will attract more tourists.

Early last month, the town made an initial announcement about their plans to create a site that would work as an information and visitors center that would provide visitors with an insight into the town’s ecosystem.

In November, Laguna Vista entered a partnership with Cameron County to build the learning center that would feature an outdoor theater, exhibit halls, trails and a natural wetland.

According to Laguna Vista City Manager Rolando Vela, the town is moving forward and applying for an Economic Development Administration grant for $800,000 to improve the water and sewer line on Highway 100, where the center would be located.

If approved, the county would be responsible for putting up $200,000 for the 80-20 grant match program.

“The first step for any development is to put in the infrastructure,” Vela said. “We are attempting to do that should we be awarded this EDA grant.”

The development will be built on 23 acres of the town’s land.

Only 10 acres will be used for the building itself.

Vela said the town wants the development to attract people driving on Highway 100 and allow them to stop and spend time in the town.

“The South Texas Ecotourism Visitors Center, when completed, will showcase many of the environmentally rich and unique features of the county,” Vela said.

A 15-year comprehensive plan has already been adopted that has updated the town’s subdivision and zoning ordinances in preparation for future commercial development the town hopes the tourism center will spur in the future.

“The town is hoping that by working closely with the county to augment this partnership and by laying the groundwork with the infrastructure improvements on Highway 100 that we will be in a better position to attract development to this corridor,” Vela said.

What will the ecotourism center have?

• Outdoor theater

• Exhibit halls

• Trails

• Natural wetlands