It certainly is disheartening when you see great things happening a half hour away, but your own hometown is a desolate wasteland. This is how my parents and my family feel living in Harlingen. It’s not just them either. A growing number of Harlingenites are getting fed up with the city’s history of bad choices. This is why we voted for single-member districts, this is why we voted for young blood on the commission. But Harlingen was apathetic toward its political arena for far too long. The damage is done.
At this point, we’re trying to pick up the pieces of our once booming city and market it as a great place to live and work. Like every city in the Valley, Harlingen has sunshine, beautiful scenery, great food (everyone loves Mexican!) and culture. But while Harlingen is paying for its past mistakes, McAllen is reaping the benefits from some great (risky, yes, but great) investments.
McAllen is bustling with nightlife, great retail and dining options… it is a testament to McAllen’s hard work in luring new business to the Valley. McAllen may be growing by leaps and bounds now, but I firmly believe Harlingen (and Brownsville) is gaining steam.
To start, our city has gained several new major employers, such as United Health, Tyco Flow and HHS Rotec. With the opening of Harlingen Corners stores such as Kohl’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond and Valle Vista Mall’s Forever 21, shopping has gotten quite a bit better. And dining options are constantly growing: Logan’s and Texas Roadhouse, Chick-Fil-A, with McAlister’s Deli and Cracker Barrel in the works. Admittedly, no five-star dining, but certainly better than before. With the planned expansion of TSTC, new elementary and secondary schools and facilities made possible by the recently passed $98.6M bond, and the development of a true medical school, students can look forward to a top-notch education.
These are great pluses for Harlingen. We’ve made great strides, and while we still imagine tumbleweeds blowing across Jackson Street, we realize that good things come to those who wait.
There are more visionaries, more educated young people in Harlingen than there were in the previous generation, when the vast majority were stripped of their potential thanks to lower incomes and stifled educational opportunities. How many of your parents were actually talked out of going to college by their guidance counselor back in 1972? How many were told they’d make better secretaries or mechanics than CEOs? How many were told to go to work to help feed their younger brothers and sisters? How many felt that military service was their only option?
This generation has lost its complacency, and is definitely working to better the city. But just as there are still plenty of the so-called “old guard” wishing to keep things the way they were, there are also plenty of naysayers from yesterday, who believe Harlingen will never change, that we’ll always remain looked down on… and so we might as well give up.
We have to somehow convince everyone that this city can be better than it ever was. Some will laugh, others will ignore us, and yet others will fight us tooth and nail. It’s a constant struggle. But it’s one that we have to make. And Harlingen will be better for it in the long run. It may take a while, but we’ve got time on our side. We’re the young ones now.