Palmview hires lawyer for La Joya ISD land dispute

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Ricardo “Rick” Villarreal

Palmview hired Brownsville law firm Martinez and Tijerina on Tuesday to represent the city in a dispute with La Joya ISD over a 10-acre piece of land the district donated to the city.

In a letter last week the school district demanded the city vacate that land by Aug. 19.

In a release Wednesday the city indicated that it intends to resist losing the land, describing the cancellation of projects planned for it as something that would harm the community.

“It’s imperative to understand that such political posturing by La Joya ISD jeopardizes not just community grants but also casts an unfavorable light on the district, potentially being viewed as dysfunction by outsiders,” it reads. “The city earnestly hopes that the district will recalibrate its focus toward children’s welfare, particularly as the planned projects are tailor-made to uplift the lives of La Joya ISD’s young students.”

The city plans to build an all-inclusive park, a regional emergency response center, a police station and a city hall on the lot, located at the corner of Marla Drive and South Farm-to-Market 492.

Palmview, La Joya ISD contends, failed to meet a requirement in the property’s deed stipulating that the city commence and complete a project on the property by May of this year.

Mayor Ricardo “Rick” Villarreal has said, however, that the district was aware of the city’s development timeline but only took issue with it following a resolution made by the city council this month supporting state intervention at La Joya ISD.

Villarreal has said he feels the district is retaliating against the city for the resolution.

The school district and its attorney deny retaliation and have defended the district’s actions.

In the city’s release, Villarreal indicated that Palmview means to dig in its heels over the property.

“We are poised to defend our position and will tenaciously pursue the projects that promise significant benefits to both the Palmview and LJISD communities,” he wrote.

The release describes steps toward the property’s development that have already been commissioned, including environmental studies, land surveys and architectural plans, along with town hall feedback meetings it held in collaboration with the district.

The city describes the property’s development as something that will significantly benefit the community — even La Joya ISD students in particular through career and technical education programs.

“However, the vision for a safer and more inclusive Palmview now faces an unforeseen challenge,” the release read. “LJISD’s actions, seemingly retaliatory following Palmview’s support for a TEA intervention, put critical quality of life and safety projects at risk in the LJISD community.”