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Fronteras: Two Nations, One River — Proposed Binational Park will connect Los Dos Laredos

San Antonio-based Overland Partners and Able City of Laredo have been selected to create the conceptual design plans for the Binational River Park.

Despite sitting on invisible international lines, border communities are anything but divided. Concrete monuments, border fences, and rivers can’t break up the ties that have bonded the communities for generations.

Many efforts have been made to strengthen the ties between so-called “sister cities” along the two sides of the U.S.-Mexico Border, including shared land and park space; The Chamizal National Memorial on the El Paso border has a corresponding Chamizal park in Ciudad Juarez; Friendship Park is on the border between San Diego and Tijuana.

A proposed park in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo will take the idea of a binational park to a level unlike no other. The 6.2-mile long Binational River Park will work to strengthen the ties between “los Dos Laredos” or the two Laredos.

Tricia Cortez, the executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center in Laredo, represents the Binational Working Group — a consortium of public and private organizations that are collaborating to make the binational park a reality.

“This is our chance to make this sort of ground zero for how to do it right,” she said. “And hopefully we can be a binational model for other cities in Texas, especially along the Rio Grande, for how to plan for the future.”

But the park isn’t just meant to symbolize unity between the two cities: it’s also a water conservation effort.

Rick Archer, Overland founding partner and senior principal on the project, said conservation is at the center of the park’s mission.

“There is no park without conservation of the river… It is the sole water source, drinking water source, for over 6 million people in this region.”

Other guests on today’s program:

  • Barbara Warren, project manager and Overland architect 
  • Viviana Frank-Frano, architect and co-founder of Able City 
  • Frank Rotnofsky, partner and co-founder of Able City 
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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Marian Navarro produces for Texas Public Radio's Morning Edition and Fronteras.