|Some of the slick-looking "posters" on the downtown master plan|
A few months ago, I attended a couple of meetings on the downtown renovation master plan. Both were presented by Kell-Munoz, the firm that won the $300,000 contract for the plan. I know they had a lot of posters around the room showing all sorts of different data pertaining to our downtown. During the first meeting, they had the atendees "break out" into groups and write down all sorts of ideas about what our downtown should be. As the meeting neared it's end, they asked each group to summerize their ideas into one statement. The several group spokespersons then quickly read them out to the rest of the audience. At this point, it was time to go.
I know this is going to sound skeptical (again) but I don't see how this exercise could yield any true public input or be taken into serious consideration by Kell-Munoz. To me, it seemed a simple formality to be disposed off. The next meeting, we got a printout of the ideas that had been picked up the time before. The presenter started going down the list but failed to make it clear whether any of these ideas had been incorporated into their plan. Being that they had a 3-D powerpoint of some kind already setup to be shown to us, chances are that they had their minds made up way before even the first meeting.
Ironically, a LMT story which appeared early last year, after the firm was awarded the contract, gave just the opposite impression. it stated in part:
Firm President Henry Munoz called the downtown renovation plan "one of the most important commisions in the history of the city". "It is unusual for a city to take a moment to plan for it's future" Munoz said. He added that one of the most important aspects of their plan was making sure the citizens of Laredo had an active role in creating the master plan.
Did Kell-Munoz succeed in ensuring that Laredoans had an active role in creating this master plan? Not even close. At least not the Laredoans who were present at the meetings that I attended. Getting back to the title of this post. Does anyone know where the process for this master plan now stand? Is Kell-Munoz's work done? Was it worth $300,000 of our tax dollars?