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City working on getting land for basketball court

On Monday night, the city manager put an item on the agenda that asks council to approve a resolution that declares the purchase of Paso Del Norte Industrial Park as necessity for public use.
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 10:06 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - How can a public basketball court wind up on private property?

That question continues to be a source of debate among city leaders.

Another question is: what are they going to do about it?

On Monday night, the city manager put an item on the agenda that asks council to approve a resolution that declares the purchase of Paso Del Norte Industrial Park as necessity for public use.

That move would authorize city staff to acquire property rights, appoint an appraiser and negotiator if necessary, establish funding, and to institute condemnation proceeding if purchase negotiations aren’t successful.

Public comments read out loud by the communication administrator show just what the Los Martinez neighborhood thinks of the plan.

“It reads: good evening city council, my name is Rosa Aguilar and I’m a community advocate for the Los Martinez neighborhood. I have lived here since 1989. We have yet to have a recreation area since the nearest park we would go to is in Hillside. Now having children of my own that I’m raising in this neighborhood I find it extremely beneficial in having them close to home.”

“Laredo needs to do everything in their power to obtain the land behind the Los Martinez area. That land is extremely dangerous when weeds grow, which lends itself to criminal activity and many illegal aliens crossing through that area. This area would serve as park which is so much deserve by the people in the area.”

Assistant City Manager Kristina Hale says if it comes down to condemnation, the city would only have to pay fair market value.

According to the Webb County appraisal district website, the value of all five lots the city want is over $96,000.

“Considering there is some issue with a pending lawsuit or claim that we have for improvements that we made that were almost in excess or at least almost equal to what that amount is,” said Hale. “I don’t think there would be a big cost to that.”

The pending lawsuit is attempting to get back the roughly $70,000 the city spent of the basketball court.

The land is currently deemed unbuildable since it sits on a flood plain.

If the city does have to spend money, the area’s representative Councilwoman Vanessa Perez says she will use District Seven Community Development Block Grant and capital improvement funds.

According to Community Development Director Tina Martinez, CBDG funds can be used to purchase land, but since the money is already designated for bike lanes there will need to be a process initiated.

“It just has to follow an environmental process, so depending on what that process is and what the outcome of the assessments is then it will determine if we can purchase it and what type of amenities can be because when... it is a flood area, there are restrictions on what amenities can be purchased with CBDG block grants.”

For now, the city will work on negotiating with the property owner.

The city built a basketball court behind the Los Martinez subdivision back in the 90′s, but to this day no agreement can be found.

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