Community Planning Assistance Teams
La Feria, Texas
Meet the Team
The City of La Feria, incorporated as a city in 1915, is located in Deep South Texas in the area commonly called the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV). La Feria is approximately 60 miles west of the Gulf of Mexico, on the western edge of Cameron County, bordered by Hidalgo County.
Geographically isolated from the rest of Texas and the U.S., the LRGV is a center of international commerce with five bridges to Mexico. The region is experiencing significant population growth and urbanization. The small but growing town of La Feria has 7,302 residents and encompasses approximately 2,800 acres.
This Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) project will focus on some of the oldest parts of the city, a collection of aging neighborhoods, including La Feria's original town site. These traditional neighborhoods exemplify much of what "new urbanism" seeks to create — houses within walking distance of schools, stores, libraries, and parks.
However, an aging and deteriorating housing stock, under-developed commercial corridors, an incomplete sidewalk network and neglected park space are some of the mounting challenges that residents and city officials now face. La Feria's most recent (2007) comprehensive plan identifies much of the study area as "in transition."
The La Feria CPAT will engage the community with a visioning process and help determine where the city and its residents may want that transition to take them.
August 19, 2013
The team issues its final report: "Celebrate La Feria! ¡Celebra La Feria!"
May 24, 2013
The team met with city officials to answer questions and discuss in more detail the team's analysis and recommendations from the previous evening's presentation. A final report is forthcoming.
May 23, 2013
The team continued to work on preparing their final presentation throughout the day. La Feria residents, government officials and other stakeholders, many of which also attended the public input session on Tuesday, arrived eager to hear the team's analysis and recommendations. La Feria Mayor, Steve Brewer, provided an introduction followed by each of the team members who provided their analysis and recommendations.
May 22, 2013
Coming off of the successful public participation meeting the night before, the team conducted an all-day work session. Members of the public were invited to stop in to discuss ideas with the team as they worked.
May 21, 2013
The La Feria CPAT met with the planning and community development director and city manager in the morning, then toured the city and some of the surrounding areas. Following the tour, the team debriefed and prepared a short presentation and series of community engagement exercises to conduct with residents and other stakeholders during the first public meeting. Over 40 people attended and participated in discussions during the meeting.
Team Leader, Bob Barber, FAICP, began with a brief presentation of La Feria's history and an overview of the team's charge for the project. With many of La Feria's Latino residents (85 percent of the city's population) in attendance, bilingual team member, Irayda Ruiz Bode, AICP, provided English-Spanish translation. Following Barber's introduction, team member, Tripp Muldrow, AICP, conducted a neighborhood family tree exercise, whereby everyone was asked to attribute personality characteristics to a selection of neighboring towns and cities.
Next, attendees broke up into three groups. Within each group, every person was directed to place three different-colored dots on a map of La Feria — each one representing a place in La Feria that: (a) they like the most; (b) they don't like; and (c) they would most like to change or improve. Group discussions followed to gain insights into each person's choices. Each group then shared with everyone a summary of their discussions. Team member, Philip Walker, AICP, closed with a quick summary of some of the common themes and ideas from the different breakout groups.
February 21, 2013
La Feria CPAT Team Leader, Bob Barber, FAICP, and APA project manager, Ryan Scherzinger, conducted a preliminary visit to La Feria. They toured the city and surrounding areas to get a first-hand look and determine what kinds of expertise will be needed when the full team returns later this spring. Barber and Scherzinger met with the project's primary community contact, Irene Szedlmayer, La Feria's Planning and Community Development Director. She organized meetings with the mayor, Steve Brewer, and the city manager, Sunny Philip. In the evening, they met with a small group of stakeholders to discuss the project and gather input on what they see as the city's next steps and current priorities.