by BRAD ROLLINS
Amid the giddy atmosphere at Saturday’s opening of the Wonder World Drive extension, Mayor Susan Narvaiz was generous with praise for the legion of residents and elected leaders who saw the road built after 20 years.
There is plenty of credit to go around. Back in 1987, a council appointed Blue Ribbon Bond committee recommended building the road to connect east and west San Marcos and thereby ease traffic in the downtown and Heritage historical districts. More than a decade passed before city voters had their chance to endorse the road, which they did robustly in 1998 by authorizing $1.5 million to buy right of way for the road. Along the way, city leaders bought more than 500 acres to offset the environmental impact of the 3.2-mile parkway.
But it wasn’t until 2005, during Narvaiz’s first term, that the city started seriously lining up the funding to make it happen, a price tag that would eventually come in at about $42 million for construction, engineering, right of way, environmental and archaeological studies. That year, the city won a $10 million federal earmark with the help of the Winstead lobbying group that Narvaiz is responsible for hiring. Then she led a delegation to the Texas Transportation Commission to win a pass-through financing agreement with the state wherein the city assumed debt to front the cost and will accept reimbursement over the next decade or two, starting in 2011.
That was not, as it turns out, the last hurdle planners overcame to push the project through. Yet Narvaiz was there to usher it through each tangle and, on Saturday, the public started benefiting from her relentlessness.
If the mayor does not seek a fourth term as many now suspect, either of her likely successors, John Thomaides or Daniel Guerrero, ought to take this particular page from her playbook — her Laser-focus on building infrastructure the city needs to grow gracefully, to pick up where predecessors left off for the longterm good.
As a measure of gratitude for this service she has rendered for eight years, the new mayor might also ask his council to name a certain roadway in Narvaiz’s honor.Email | Print