By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Plans may soon change for the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, an amenity that local officials hoped would serve as the future home of the Freddy Fender Museum, the San Benito History Museum and the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Originally, City of San Benito officials hoped that $1.2 million earmarked in 2007 from a certificate of obligation would go toward the construction of the Cultural Heritage Museum at what is now known as the Resaca Walk property, which sits along Business 77 and the resaca.
However, city officials recently informed representatives of the aforementioned museums that language in the CO stipulates for the funds to be used at Plaza San Benito on 220. E. Stenger St. – the current location of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center.
“It said it had to be at Plaza San Benito where the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center is right now,” said Rey Avila, president of the Texas Conjunto Music HOF and Museum, of the CO’s language. “That’s how they wrote it, that the $1 million or so had to be spent there. So now after seven years, all of a sudden somebody found out by reading that phrase that the money had to be spent there, and the bad thing is that it cannot be moved.”
The San Benito City Commission met with the representatives from the museums on Tuesday to discuss the matter. According to Mayor Celeste Sanchez, the museum representatives preferred that they “follow their dream of a museum by the resaca.”
As a result, Sanchez said the museum representatives prefer that the CO money be returned and that a new request for a certificate of obligation be made for construction of the Cultural Heritage Museum at the site of the Resaca Walk. It’s a proposal that the Commission is expected to vote on at a future meeting.
“Maybe we can get another CO and that money could be dedicated to that part of the resaca,” Avila said.
Ron Rogers, president of the Freddy Fender Museum, said, “I’m very hopeful that any issues will be resolved and that we will go along with our original plans to build our museums. We’ve been working on projects since 2007, and I’m hopeful we’ll move ahead with the museums as planned.”
Attempts to reach City Manager Manuel Lara, San Benito Economic Development Corporation Executive Director
Salomon Torres, and San Benito Historical Society President Tootie Madden were unsuccessful as of press time. It should be noted that calls were made on Friday following the Thanksgiving holiday.