Interstate 69 will be here sooner than later
by Tim Delaney
Mar 01, 2013 | 3414 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
REFUGIO — The Interstate 69 corridor was thought to be about 20 years away before it would be knocking on Refugio County’s door.

But Refugio County Community Development Foundation Director Joe Arredondo said he spoke with the chairman of the Segment 3 Committee for the Development of I-69, Wharton Mayor Domingo Montalvo Jr., who told Arredondo that it only would be three to five years before reaching Refugio County.

The Refugio County Community Development Foundation board heard the news at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 20.

In a surprise move, Arredondo resigned his position later that evening.

Foundation board president Ann Fierova said a special meeting of the board has been called Wednesday evening to see how to proceed.

“I wish I had a crystal ball. I can’t speak for the board,” she said.

Speaking of Arredondo’s resignation, Fierova said he moved on.

Arredondo had told the board that there were billions of federal dollars available to cities along the I-69 corridor.

“If we are not ready, the money will be given to somebody else,” Arredondo said.

And the I-69 project will be constructed without much input from Refugio County residents.

“A preliminary rerouting would be on the east side of Refugio,” said board member Bob Blaschke.

“This is real. Is the timing real? Let’s not panic. Let’s mitigate the impact,” Blaschke said.

“I’m not so sure everybody is on the same page,” he added.

Board member Bart Wales said it was imperative that the county’s leaders become aware of the upcoming project.

“We need to get our heads out of the sand and plan for that,” he said.

Blaschke said the I-69 project has been a controversial issue in Refugio, but the problems of the project could be turned into benefits.

“It’s emotional to talk about it, but we’re going to have to talk about it,” he said.

Blaschke said such things as where to put an industrial park in relation to I-69 needs to be figured.

He posed the questions, “What are the faults going to the east side of Refugio, and what about cemeteries and wetlands?”

He said floodplain land could be recaptured.

“We all need to be on the same page. We can’t have a few people and the rest denying it,” he said.

Board member Michael Villarreal said more time is needed.

“What needs to be worked on is a little more time than three to five years. We’re being blind sided. It’s being shoved down our throats,” he said.

Arredondo had said Mayor Montalvo was coming to visit and talk about the I-69 project at the board’s March meeting.

The board had planned on inviting Refugio County elected officials to meet with the I-69 committee chairman and learn firsthand what they can do.

Arredondo said Refugio County needs to plan where it wants things and work with the committee.

But the Foundation board now will have to plan how to proceed.
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