Presidio Municipal Development District seeks new office space, wrap-up to mural project

PRESIDIO — The Presidio Municipal Development District met for the first time in three months last Thursday, marking a fresh start for the organization under new leadership. Executive Director Jeran Stephens made her debut as well as members Lizette Rohana, Christina Juarez and Patrick Manian.

The PMDD saw a shift in recent months after former Director Brad Newton stepped down, hoping to prevent conflicts of interest by distancing PMDD from city administration when he was hired as city administrator. During that transition, the organization lost office space, as Newton has worked both his positions from city hall.

Stephens and the rest of the board have been scouring local listings looking for a new office space, and have toured a few properties along O’Reilly Street. They’d like an aesthetically pleasing space that’s ADA compliant and has reasonable parking and an outdoor area for pandemic-friendly meetings. Plenty of outlets are a must, as is a signature Presidio feel.

“This could be a heart of Presidio for our community at large,” said Rohana as the group discussed plans for the space that would draw locals in.

County Attorney Rod Ponton suggested the “slate building,” which currently hosts the Presidio Farmer’s Market. Board members got excited about the process of building a museum and gift shop inside the space and hosting city functions.

The new building will add to the PMDD’s roster of real estate ventures, which include fixing up what the group refers to as “the white and brown buildings,” a pair of fixer-uppers downtown that the group hopes will draw in tourists and locals alike. The two buildings speak to the colorful history of Presidio: the “white building” is an old farmhouse that is the earliest surviving storefront in town, and the “brown building” was rumored to be a speakeasy frequented by Pancho Villa. They hope to hire local contractors and workers to keep any money invested in the community.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also moved to wrap up a controversial mural project headed by the Presidio Cultural District Association. Under its previous leadership, the PMDD awarded the PCDA $40,000 in taxpayer money for a mural and rock planter project that drew criticism from locals who felt that Presidio and Ojinaga-based artists were excluded from the process.

The mural is finished and the rock planters are mostly done, but the group lamented that the planters’ placement on a busy block outside city hall had caused multiple drivers to back into them, causing significant damage. They hoped to recoup the $23,000 in funding left on the project and transfer the finishing touches to the tourism board, which would be responsible for choosing native plants and irrigation designs for the planters, and choosing local artists to complete future murals.

“There’s a lot of passion here,” Stephens said of her fellow board members.

The board hopes to keep the forward momentum going by inviting the public to a workshop on November 17 at the Oasis Restaurant. They’re also kicking off a new social media campaign — an Instagram account with the handle @visitpresidiotexas is now live and a website of the same domain name will launch soon. Their new phone number is 432-244-1219.