2024 All-America City – Edinburg, TX

Edinburg stands out as one of Texas’ fastest-growing regions, experiencing unparalleled population expansion over the past decade. This rapid growth has brought both opportunities and challenges, particularly regarding the city’s aging infrastructure. Over the last two decades, Edinburg has undergone a remarkable transformation into a vibrant and livable urban center, boasting an array of commercial, educational, recreational, medical, and governmental facilities. This evolution has significantly enhanced residents’ quality of life and economic prosperity, fueled by a pro-business ethos that drives overall development.  

Despite these strides, persistent challenges remain, with over a quarter of the population living below the poverty line, significantly higher than the state average. Yet, Edinburg remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering continued growth and development, while simultaneously striving to provide exceptional opportunities for both residents and businesses. Central to this vision is a dedication to meaningful civic engagement, serving as the cornerstone for collaborative and equitable solutions to address these challenges head-on. 

An Inclusive Community within Everyone’s Reach 

The City of Edinburg recognizes the vital role parks play in improving residents’ quality of life, yet acknowledges disparities in access, particularly among citizens with mobility challenges, and cognitive and physical disabilities. Over the past five years, concerted local action and collaboration have worked to address these issues, ensuring equity and inclusion in park infrastructure for all residents.  

In response to community feedback and extensive engagement efforts, Edinburg’s Parks and Recreation Department addressed the lack of accessible play structures at parks by installing grant-funded inclusive infrastructure at 8 parks spanning the community. 

Building off this momentum, the city and community partners began planning the first all-inclusive park in Edinburg to further close the gap of all-inclusive infrastructure. During the planning and design stages, the city knew that meaningful engagement was critical, and collaborated with parents of children with disabilities and relevant community stakeholders to plan what would become Beethoven Park at Vanguard Academy.  

In March 2022, the Beethoven Park at Vanguard Academy officially opened, offering all-inclusive features including:  

  • Fully-ramped access to playscape  
  • Inclusive We-Go-Swing  
  • Communication station that has sign language, Braille, Spanish and English 
  • Strategically-placed handholds, footrests and back supports 
  • Restrooms with an adult changing table  

Additionally, the city opened an all-inclusive splash pad and continues to prioritize inclusivity in all recreational infrastructure.  

There’s No Place Like Home 

With a doubling of its population since 2000, Edinburg prioritized creating a sense of belonging to welcome and fully integrate its new diverse residents.  

Through cross-sector partnerships and resident-led initiatives, the city created a lively cultural festival scene, becoming a regional destination for diverse events such as the Filipino Festival, Juneteenth Jubilee, Frida Fest – A Women’s Empowerment Festival, Edinburg UFO Festival and Conference, South Texas International Film Festival, Los Muertos Bailan Festival, and more.  

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the bustling festival scene halted overnight. In response, the city adapted, embracing virtual cultural festivals, concerts, and film festivals to maintain community connections and support its creative industries.

Local artists also applied for and were accepted to be part of the “Arts for EveryBody” campaign, part of the One Nation/One Project initiative, to improve community health and resilience through the arts. This national program brings together artists, local governments, and community health providers to foster equitable recovery and well-being. It will premiere collaborative art works in 18 cities and towns across the country, serving as a public health initiative to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a catalyst for community well-being, and a workforce development program for artists. 

After the devasting pandemic, Edinburg has bounced back to become a creative, tolerant community with open, inviting festivals and events that give a voice to the growing diversity in Edinburg. 

Building for Tomorrow’s Future Today! 

Edinburg faces the challenge of responsibly managing its diverse and expanding population. The city aimed to ensure inclusive progress by actively engaging its community with initiatives like the Edinburg 2040 project. The visioning effort involved extensive public outreach, including surveys (available in English and Spanish) and bilingual town hall meetings, to gather input from residents. Town halls were hosted in different areas of Edinburg, at different times and languages, to reach diverse and traditionally underserved populations. Edinburg 2040 sought to incorporate modern technology and broader outreach methods compared to past engagement efforts. 

The city’s diverse population, predominantly Latino, necessitated tailored approaches to civic engagement and decision-making. The Edinburg 2040 project resulted in the formation of several committees focusing on key priorities identified by residents, such as transportation, public safety, and arts and culture. These committees met regularly to develop strategic plans aligned with the community’s needs and aspirations. The project’s outcomes included the allocation of funds for various initiatives, such as improving neighborhood connectivity, enhancing transportation infrastructure, and increasing disaster preparedness.

By actively involving citizens in decision-making processes and implementing their feedback, Edinburg aimed to build a stronger, more resilient community that reflected the collective vision of its residents. Through continuous collaboration and engagement, Edinburg is navigating its rapid growth while preserving its cultural heritage and meeting the evolving needs of its residents. 

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