By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
The South Padre Island City Council met Wednesday evening for their regular biweekly meeting. Because of special meetings that occurred, Wednesday’s meeting was the fifth City Council meeting held this month. A workshop Thursday on Form Based Code will bring that to a total of six. This meeting marked a positive new relationship as Mayor Barry Patel welcomed new U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander William Bell and his team to the Island.
Mayor Patel along with County Commissioner Sofia Benavides recognized Lt. Commander Bell and three other members of his team including two local volunteers. Commissioner Benavides gave a few words to express the importance of the Coast Guard to our environment, economy, and especially their role in search and rescue operations. She also pointed out our unique geographic location on the border and how the Coast Guard plays an important role in our security. Lt. Commander Bell introduced his team and thanked the city and their partners in the community. The Mayor and Commissioner signed a proclamation to solidify the partnership.
Next, Charles Ortiz, District Engineer for the Laguna Madre Water District, gave a presentation to address recent concerns about a public notice that was distributed in regards to a maximum contaminant level violation. His technical presentation culminated in the point that the Water District has addressed the issue of water contamination and is currently working to bring the water below the maximum contaminant level. Ortiz assured the council that the level of contaminant exposure was minimal and would only pose health risks if there was long term exposure. The Water District has an aggressive goal to correct the problem before their next test in March, but there is a possibility that another notice will be sent out. Ortiz also noted that taste of the water should already be improving. Council Member Alita Bagley asked Ortiz if he lived in the Laguna Madre Water District, and although he did not, he said that he does drink the water when he is at the Island and added that he has been doing taste tests. Ortiz shared with the council that tap water is fresher than bottled water as it ages for only about 12 days, whereas bottled water is usually sits for much longer. Ortiz even went so far as to say that tap water is the healthier option, and reassured the council and the city that this issue is actively being addressed.
Also on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting were public hearings for the annexation of the Ocean Towers Property to which there were no comments. Then, Coastal Resource and Parks Administrator Reuben Trevino presented a proposed beach and dune permit application for the extension of a walkover at 3700 Gulf Boulevard. Staff recommended that the permit be approved and the council agreed. He also discussed a Seaweed Backstack Program and requested a budget amendment in the amount of ten thousand dollars to purchase equipment for the project. The idea for the project is that when the island is inundated with seaweed, that seaweed can be placed in low lying areas in the dunes to raise the elevation and prevent erosion. The money would be used to purchase temporary roads that can be placed across the dunes to move the seaweed to the desired areas. These roads would cause minimal damage to vegetation and would only be used when absolutely necessary. The council approved the budget amendment. They also approved a budget amendment to purchase two license plate readers for the use of identifying stolen vehicles or those involved in felony related activities.
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