One of the biggest projects currently in the works for Hidalgo County is the proposed new 'Taj Mahal' - i.e. County Courthouse.
Although I do agree with the need of a new Courthouse (in particular, a new Justice Center), I have many concerns about the current plans – the cost, the location and the lack of proper/competitive procurement practices.
The proposed cost is $150 Million, though there are NO architectural designs to base a cost on – there is only a conceptual rendering by ERO architects – so nothing to actually determine a cost.
The proposed cost per square foot is $446 Sq Ft. Current Industry standard for a Courthouse is $176 Sq Foot – what are we building – an ornate, ostentatious, gold leaved Taj Mahal?!! A new very modern skyscraper in downtown Ft Worth was recently built for $276 a sq foot.
There was no competitive bidding for either the architectural firm or drainage project for the courthouse. The architectural firm chosen has never built a courthouse before and the engineering firm chosen has no experience designing drainage projects.
The proposed location is in a very congested area of Edinburg – in the middle of the downtown square. There is a serious parking and drainage problem in this area. It should be located along the Expressway in the Northern part of Edinburg so that it is more easily accessible to all the citizens of the County and could also be a catalyst for new economic growth in a Corridor north of the City and along the area of the new IH 69 bypass.
Good Fiscal management, including competitive procurement practices, is one of the most important jobs of County Government. We need citizen input and transparent County Government when committing this kind of taxpayer money.