For two years the Arroyo Colorado River, running along the west side of Rio Hondo, blocked traffic to our downtown and made access to the rest of the Rio Grande Valley difficult. Our historic and marvelous lift-bridge—the only one in the state and a mechanical masterpiece—needed repair.
Now repaired and operational, thanks to much work and the re-manufacture of some parts in Germany, our bridge sports a historical marker. More than that, it’s a significant symbol of Rio Hondo’s uniqueness and one of the main attractions at our annual Bridge Fest celebration.
I say one of the main attractions, because the citizens of Rio Hondo have recently formed a committee to envision and work on what our downtown area—now easily accessible via the lift-bridge—can become and mean for the community. This group of 24 people—representing schools, churches, businesses, government, and ordinary residents—is inspired to make Rio Hondo a place people will want to visit or to move to, while retaining its small town charm. Rio Hondo will never have the number of stores and restaurants that cities like Brownsville and Harlingen can offer, but we still highly value our quaint streets, our friendly atmosphere, our unique downtown grocery store, and our parks and fishing. The enthusiasm for the community at our annual Bridge Fest is evident, and the enthusiasm of this local committee is leading to positive changes—to beautify our downtown and help local businesses.
Since joining IC² Institute’s Regional XLR8 program, I have been inspired to think about Rio Hondo’s strengths and share the XLR8 program exercises with our local committee. Based on the program, we are gathering information and thoughtfully making achievable plans. Instead of just saying that we have work to do, we are really thinking about who we are and what we have here in Rio Hondo.
Hope to see you at Bridge Fest 2021!
Community Leaders Speak is a series of writings prompted by the discussions during IC2 Regional XLR8 Program which convenes 150 leaders from 58 communities across all regions of Texas, September – October 2020. As a part of the IC2 Regional Economic Recovery Initiative, Regional XLR8 is a new type of “accelerator” that helps communities rethink recovery, take strategic action, and build resilience. During this intensive 6-week program, leaders actively engaged in full & regional group discussions around human-centered approaches.