La Feria News

Parking Meters in La Feria

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The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

BiCentennialHistoryCover The following story is a chapter from a manuscript entitled The Bicentennial History of La Feria, Texas written by Eddie Gathings McNail in 1975. Throughout the coming year we’ll be reprinting sections of her research into the history of La Feria as the city celebrates its 100 year anniversary.

Because of the congestion in La Feria, 140 parking meters were installed on Main Street and along Commercial and Oleander Streets to mid-way of the block. The protest from local farmers was vehement and many people started trading in Harlingen. At this time Frank R. Lucas was the mayor and Jake Cain issued the parking tickets.

Lucas resigned as mayor and became city manager in Harlingen. In November, 1949, a petition was signed by all the businessmen in La Feria to cease installing meters which were causing so much controversy and which were called “Lucas’ Folly.”

On December 8, 1949, an editorial stated in the LA FERIA NEWS, “Take out the meters. They are not wanted or needed.”

They caused more dissension than the Civil War. Early in 1951 the meters were removed by popular vote.

Below is the full transcript of the editorial on the front page of the December 8, 1949 editorial referenced in the article:

TAKE OUT THE METERS

by Sam Gerald, editor

La Feria urban and rural residents turned out last Thursday night and told the city commission in a public hearing that they didn’t want parking meters. The grim faces, trembling hands, and out-spoken expressions should have been enough to convince the city authorities that for one time, at least, they had overstepped the bounds of public right when they ordered the meters installed without first permitting the public to express itself in a public hearing.

There were some sharp words spoken, and some anger shown. You can’t cram down the throats of the American people anything without getting some resentment.

The numbers that were present against the meter installations exceeded the numbers present for the meters, although some evidence was noticeable that some “fors” had been solicited to attend.

The city can show no real need for parking meters as a traffic or safety regulation. Its only big motive in installing the meters is for revenue. And you can’t rent your city streets for revenue. This isn’t Russia.

Maybe there are no other means of raising revenue. Maybe there are. Public utilities took a small part of the spotlight in the meeting when it was suggested the city put in its own power plant for needed revenue. That may seem far-fetched, but it isn’t anymore far-fetched than the idea that apparently someone was trying to convey to the people that the parking meters would bring in revenue to pay for street and alley paving, to take care of sanitation installations across the way in proposed new annexations, city beautification, etc.

Comment against the meters this week HAS NOT DIED DOWN. Maybe our city officials would like for things to simmer down. But as long as the editor of this newspaper is writing the editorials for this newspaper, the city of La Feria is not going to be given the chance to forget that there are 140 nickel-grabbing “bandits,” made of metal, standing on our streets.

We don’t like the insinuations that we are “going after” the city administration.

The public will bear witness to the fact that we have, in months past, done everything we could to assist the city in collecting back taxes, in improving streets and lost, etc. But there is a right and there is a wrong, and as far as we’re concerned, the parking meters are wrong in La Feria.

We have had to get rough, now and then, editorially, and more times than one we had to get rough in behalf of the city administration. We hope that they can see that we want no part in pulling the wool over the eyes of our people. Let’s call a spade a spade. Let’s admit we need money for certain improvements in the city. Let’s admit that we don’t have, at them moment, any LEGITIMATE, ready means of obtaining that revenue. But, in the name of truth and the American Way, let’s not say ou tof one corner of our mouths that we need parking meters for traffic regulation, and out of the other corner admit that we want them for the revenue.

That’s not playing ball with the public. That’s not being frank. That’s not right.

We feel that the resentment against the parking meters is many times heavier than any warmth for them. We feel that while the city authorities have the time, before it is too late, that they should have the representatives of the meter company come here and dig them out, and take them away.

The people have said, in majority, that they do not want them. Isn’t that enough to convince our city administration that the METERS ARE NOT WANTED OR NEEDED?

We’re asking the city authorities publicly: Are you going to continue to ignore the wishes of the majority by keeping those cast-iron “bandits” in La Feria?

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO REMOVE THOSE PARKING METERS? THE PEOPLE DON’T WANT THEM. THE PEOPLE TOLD YOU THEY DIDN’T WANT THOSE PARKING METERS. Does this town have a one-man rule, or a six-man rule, or a “brain-trust” rule, or is it still the American Way to abide by the will of the majority?

THOSE METERS SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN PUT ON OUR SIDEWALKS. LET THE PARKING METER COMPANY COME AND TAKE THEM AWAY. THE WHOLE DEAL SMELLS TO THE BLUE SKIES!


Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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