Monday, January 13, 2014


By Juan Montoya
Citing a need for more parking space at Texas Southmost College, the board of trustees will be asked to approve a plan to raze the Jacob Brown Civic Center to make space for more student cars.
That move – which initially had the verbal support of the City oF Brownsville to share in the cost – is now generating questions on whether it is a good idea to tear down the local landmark to make it more convenient for students to get to their classes.
"I have already told (TSC President Lily) Tercero that I am not going top vote to demolish the civic center just to get more parking space," said trustee Ray Hinojosa. "The college is not a mall. It's a college campus. Students are supposed to walk to their classes."
Hinojosa said he was skeptical about the administration's claim that students needed more parking space closer to the campus since TSC has sold parking to the University of Texas at Brownsville during the course of the separation between both institutions.
"Why sell the parking, then?" he asked. "It makes no sense."
The civic center historically has served as a venue for some of the city's annual cultural events including the Latin Jazz festival, several Mr. Amigo Association events and associated Charro Days festivities, among others. The HEB grocery chain also holds its annual Feast of Sharing.
In addition to the reluctance of some trustees to demolish the historical landmark building, there is also a question of how much it would cost the college to do it.
In a letter dated August 20, city contract attorney Mark Sossi told the board that all it needed to do to acquire the civic center was to record and amended deed that would delete the section requiring that TSC pay $2 million to the city if it sells the structure to a non-public entity and; "create  right of first refusal to the city in the evnet the property is sold or encumbered by a land lease."
In a letter back to the city dated Sept. 9, TSC attorney Frank Perez reminded Sossi that "During recent conversations between President Tercero and Mayor Martinez, it was mutually agreed that the Mayor would approach the City Commission to provide assistance, in the form of either services or financial contribution, for demolition of all or part of the Jacob Brown facility to provide needed space for additional student parking..."
Ten days later, Sossi burst that bubble.
"The city's offer of Aug. 20...was the only offer the city commission had extended to TSC and did not include such a demolition. The City Commission does not feel that the demolition of the Jacob Brown or providing funds for its demolition is something the City can reasonably do."
And so, after going back on his word, Martinez made the city hand over at least two historic buildings in return for a 10.02-acre tract it had donated way back in 2001, including the Kreiger House into which the UTB-TSC partnership had funneled more than $484,000 in renovations paid by TSC.
The refusal of the city to stand behind Martinez's promises now means that if the college wants to demolish the Ft. Brown Civic Center it will have to do this on its own and at its own expense. So which one will it be? Will TSC knock down the city landmark to make it more convenient for students to stroll to their classes? Or will TSC now preserve the center and build more parking somewhere else now that the city has pulled the rug out from under it?


Anonymous said...

That place played a very important part in the life of Brownsville, during the 50s, 60s and later. The list of what took place there would be staggering to behold.

I realize that progress is upon us, but I for one would sure hate to see it go down to make more parking.

Anonymous said...

If we have a problem of fat people in Brownsville, then LET THEM WALK to class. It is good, cheap exercise. The civic center is big enough for graduation ceremonies,(for UTB and TSC) when we have bad weather, activities such as "Taste of La Frontera". I remember going to the Pan American Round Table festivities when I was a Senior in high school, I remember going to a dance where Rigo Tovar y su Costa Azul played, many of my friends had their Quinceaneras at the Civic Center, HEB has their "Feast of Sharing" there. If that building is sold or given away by our local politicians, where do they intend to do all those activities? At the events center? Everyone is going to be a real stuffed turkey in such a small place. I thought Gowen wanted residents to walk and use bikes.

Anonymous said...

I say keep it but rent the shit out of it if the Shitty of Brownsville asks to rent it....hopefully next elections we get these arrogant "officials" for the people, out of office.

Anonymous said...

how much is it going to cost to demolish this building. will it require asbestos abatement? environmental studies? lead abatement? it may be cost effective just to construct a parking garage nearby and keep using this landmark building.

Joaquin said...

I lost a ton of weight when I was in college. You had to walk everywhere. They charged us for a parking pass but there were no parking spaces close by! So either you got to class two hours early or you walked.

I only went to UTB one semester but I thought they had a ton of parking. Instead of spending all that money tearing down the Civic Center, why don't they build parking garages? That seems more logical to me.

Anonymous said...

Over the last 20 years if you asked any UTB or TSC student the biggest problem they face; most would have said "parking". They all want a parking space outside the classroom....they don't want to walk...especially for evening classes. Michael Putegnant did a parking study years ago to figure out the cost of a parking space...and the figure was very high. Students don't want to walk, don't want to ride mass transit, and don't want to be inconvenienced (don't want to read or study either). They have been spoiled by socialized education at BISD.

Anonymous said...

These kids are lazy and should go to almost any other university to see how little parking exists on campus. TSC has a bunch of spoiled students. Tearing down the Jacob Brown facility just for parking is a mistake for now. Some campus transport would be more fitting and probably more cost effective.

Anonymous said...

Que gente tan pendeja y tonta queriendo tumbar un edificio que parte de la historia de brownsville que pendejadas LIly TErcero donde esta su EXPERIANCIA COMO PRESIDENTA LA DEJO EN EL TOILET QUE BARABRA IGNORANTE

southmost kid said...

i say Tear it down like the Friendship garden, folks we cant win, its a lose-lose situation in brownsville and cameron county, put the dozer to it y dale GAS i say. our opinion does not count to the city, county schools college boards, they already made their dealings y pura lana comign my way.