Rio Hondo shuts down parks, senior center, library

RIO HONDO — Rio Hondo officials on Monday released a list of coronavirus-related changes to how the city operates, including the closure of two parks, the senior center and the library.

City Administrator Ben Medina said Tuesday his city’s measures were precautionary and that they are in line with the declaration by Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. mandating similar restrictions.

“Basically we just want to be precautionary and be safe,” Medina said. “We know from the media that the cases, or most of them, are elderly who are infected or sick, so we not only closed our parks, we also closed our senior center and also our library.”

The popular boat launch on the Arroyo Colorado remains open for use, Medina said.

Rio Hondo becomes the latest Valley city to issue restrictions on public gathering or the closure of certain facilities. The declaration shuts down City Hall Park, the Rio Hondo City/County Park and urges residents to take advantage of online options to pay utilities.

“City Hall is open. We do have one thing that we have a glass in front that the glass protects the staff a little bit so we’re going to be doing that,” Medina said. “We may close or limit the staff that comes in.

“We have a great online system and then we can also take payments over the phone if they don’t have a computer,” he added. “And we can do that with a credit card or debit card.”

The declaration canceled all sporting events at Rio Hondo City/County Park and the city will not be accepting reservations for the Civic Center, the Learning Center, park pavilions or any other available municipal rental space for the time being.

The decree also advises residents with upcoming municipal court appearances to call City Hall at 956-748-2102 for guidance on how to proceed.

Court cases are going to be handled over the phone, Medina said.

“We’re emphasizing for people to call in if they may have a court date,” Medina said. “They can do it over the phone with the judge. And of course we have online payments so whatever the judge’s fine is, we recommend that they use the online system or they can mail it in instead of them coming down to city hall.”

Medina said Mayor Gus Olivares and city officials have not determined when the restrictions will be lifted given the fluid nature of the coronavirus’ spread and continuing threat.

“We’re thinking for the next 30 days and then we’re going to re-analyze where everything’s at,” he said. “It’s kind of unknown right now.”