Wednesday, July 19, 2017


By Juan Montoya

For decades now, city officials, planners, and economic developers have lobbied the Federal Aviation Administration to lengthen the main runway at the Brownsville-South Padre Island international Airport on the city's southeast side.

And for years, plans have been drawn up to accommodate larger planes, service anticipated SpaceX freight loads, and compete with the Valley Regional Airport in Harlingen. A Capital Improvements Projects projection by the city's financial consultants shows that lengthening the runway will cost at least $83 million, the majority of that ($74.7 million) is expected to be acquired through grants.

But before a runway can be built, the city must clear residences and housing developments that are on the approach lane of the runway. And smack in the middle of that approach is a former colonia called Sunny Skies. Recently, letters from a land appraisal company has arrived to the panic of colonia residents.

(In the Google photo at right, Sunny Skies is the development in the extreme lower right-hand corner on South Indiana Avenue. Click to enlarge.)

Sunny Skies was illegally established in the early 1980s. The developer – an administrator at the local Social Security Office – formed the irregular lots himself and not one was in compliance with state or county regulations for water, sewer, paved roads and other services.

When the county and state stepped in and halted his business, the developer (who was not the owner) declared bankruptcy, there were several liens, property taxes were owed, and titles to the properties were clouded, officials found.

At that time Frank Bejarano was the director of the Cameron County Planning and Management county planner and it was up to him with the help of contract lawyers and state officials to take on the role of developer to untangle the legal nightmare. They formed a non-profit corporation to clear liens, foreclose on the original developer, secure street easements, and convert contracts for deed to warranty deeds.

Even then, officials found that the colonia, which had one water spigot at its entrance which served the 250 or so residents for more than 15 years, would require a lot more work to bring it into compliance with the various county, state and federal departments involved in its legalization. After another five years of work by Cameron County, community leaders, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Texas Rural Legal Aid and the Sunny Skies Land Corp., the colonia was finally finished.

Before that happened, the lone spigot by S. Indiana had been shut off at least once by El Jardin Water Supply manager B.C. Price who complained that the residents had extended the line to the end of the road in the interior of the colonia without permission. He only relented and hooked it up again after residents removed the clandestine piping and promised not to do it again.

At the end of the process El Jardin eventually extended its lines into the colonia, and the Brownsville Public Utility Board provided sanitary sewer along the half-mile or so right-of-way of the cul-de-sac.

In fact, the last lot was sold to a local resident less than five years ago. No one can estimate the cost over those two decades or more of work, but millions have been spent on that project.

Now, with the coming expansion of the airport runway, the city must now spend another chunk of money settling with the the residents of the 41 properties and negotiate their departure.

It is a bittersweet event for those who worked on Sunny Skies – including former commissioners Lucino Rosenbaum, the late Pete Benavides and current commissioner Sofia Benavides – to see the fruit of their labors be abandoned and the colonia (now a legal subdivision) be vacated.

"It depends on whether you want to improve the airport and the local economy, or you want to keep the airport runway at its current size and limit its potential," a city official said. "In the long run, Brownsville needs to improve its airport and capacity to handle bigger planes to encourage development. It's something we think needs to be done." 


Anonymous said...

No Tenaska no space x. Nothing. False rhetorick. Rene Oliveira drinking away and creepy stares at women. The Lucio did his best fitting men to shoes. Our area is in shambles. Helk, the runway will be built at 80 million dollars and then when no Space X arrives because of Rene Oliveira's weak leadership, then Cabler will direct personnel to park old planes and old inventory on new runway as weeds push concrete apart. Now resaca restoration has stopped. Classes being cancelled at University and college, unemployment still in double digits, Filemon Vela has upset Donald Trump, Rene Oliveira drinking and destroying nice families. Little Lucio on the take. Big Lucio cannot understand his services are no longer needed. Cocaine is the major industry in town. These leaders suck

Anonymous said...

Juan Montoya thank you for helping and educating our town brother

Anonymous said...

Tony Gray, your services are no longer needed

Anonymous said...

Fuck You Jerry McHale.

BobbyWC said...

I believe this story and it only confirms for me, Brownsville cannot meet its obligation to SpaceX. I have previously documented that since 2003 until his retirement Larry Brown lied over and over again stating all of the additional land they needed was bought and they were ready to build the runway. I met with the new Airport Administrator and he made clear the land issue was a non-issue. So about a year ago when Mike Hernandez told me they were on hold because of a land problem I did not know who to believe. If was after that conversation I met with the current airport administrator.

In my view the runway is dead. The city cannot come up with the money needed for the new terminal how are they going to come up with the money for this. And for sure we can expect litigation which can delay this another 5 years.

SpaceX is going to walk away from Brownsville because they have been lied to too many times. NASA allowed them to refurbish an old unused launch pad for commercial satilite launches. They no longer need us.

Will anyone be held accountable for the endless lies - nope not a person. The entire airport board should resign for allowing the lies to continue.

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

UUUM... BobbyTurd... what was your first clue?

Was it when the State had to change its laws to close a public beach? Did that stop SpaceX? NO. Do you think an illegal subdivision is going to stop them? - No digas pendejadas.

This guy has created reusable rockets that land in the middle of the ocean when they come back to Earth! A private company putting satellites in orbit, taken food to ISS.. and you think an illegal subdivision is going to stop him? LOL.

Talk to contractors and electricians... ask them if work at SpaceX has ramped up? Asked them if they have gone to vendor seminars recently.

People like you are the ones in leadership and thats why we are where we are.. and the funny part is, YOU COMPLAIN!!! LOL

Anonymous said...

Blimp, juanito beat you on this story again! You may as well shut the fuck fuck down, Blimp. LOL

Anonymous said...

Agree. Fuck the fuck off, Pinche Blimp. lazy-assed blogger. Feo, el Buey!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Funding for a terminal and funding for a runway come from 2 COMPLETELY different entities you pendejo.

So while you may not get funding for a terminal you still CAN get funding for the runway.

Diego Lee Rot said...

If I was in charge. I would make the runway 100 miles long

Anonymous said...


First class double seat as her majesity must be comfortable with her long list of ailments.

Double early bird check in so that Booby can be the first to board the plane, even before the flight crew! (Flight plan must be approved by her majesty).

* All donors are invitied to a Big Adios Party to be held a day prior to flight. Only low sodium, low calorie, healthy food will be served as Booby must keep his healthy - male model figure.

Anonymous said...

Fuck off, Diego! Your observations are as ridiculous as your stupid boots and Bob Marley photo-shopped hair. Jim is embarrassed !

Anonymous said...

Troll exit!