Boston Marathon qualifier coming to Island, City projects discussed
By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
February 19, 2015
The SPI City Council met Wednesday for their regular meeting to discuss a variety of topics from Island beautification to public safety, two issues which are often intertwined with city infrastructure. Other projects and events coming up this year were discussed including annexation of property, the proposed Beach User Fee program, and the First SPI Marathon.
The Council approved a resolution of support for the First SPI Marathon to be held Nov. 14. The event will be a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon and is projected to attract anywhere from 5,000 – 7,000 runners. Preparation for the event includes working with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to plan a closure of the Causeway.
Coastal Resources & Parks Administrator Reuben Treviño came up next with recommendations from the Shoreline Task Force on the City’s proposed Beach User Fee Plan. Recommendations to ease concerns of the General Land Office (GLO) that a lack of free parking could hinder public access to the beach included leaving three accesses with free parking. The Task Force recommended charging from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for parking on Gulf Boulevard at a fee of $1 per hour with a maximum daily fee of $12, which is the current maximum in the state of Texas.
During public comments, Jody Hughes, Chairman of the SPI Parks, Recreation, and Beautification Committee expressed concerns regarding the regulation of smoking and alcohol use in the city park as well as consideration to rename the park the “John L. Tompkins Memorial Park.” Mayor Patel and council members moved that discussion be sent to the Parks, Recreation, and Beautification Committee for consideration and recommendation before returning to the City Council.
The Council moved forward with sidewalk plans for repairs southward from Harbor Street on the west side of Padre Boulevard and northward from Padre Access Road to Harbor Street. They also proceeded with sidewalk repairs at the Visitor’s Center, the Convention Center, on Sunset Drive, and in front of the proposed South Padre Native Plant Center which is situated on county property.
Discussions continued with renewed talks of lowering the speed limit along the northern stretches of Padre Boulevard. City attorney Paul Cunningham shared a brief history, noting that just a few years ago, the speed was 45 mph, and though the City had made an effort to reduce it to 30 mph, TxDOT only justified and approved a slight reduction to 40 mph. With increased pedestrian traffic in the area, Mayor Patel recommended reviewing the TxDOT decision-making process and ultimately appealing their decision if necessary. Local resident and business owner Jason Yetter said, “We have a highway to nowhere, so I think it’s time TxDOT let us take control of our own safety.” The Council directed city Manager Bill DiLibero to move forward with the goal of reducing the speed limit to 30 mph on all sections of Padre Boulevard.
Other improvements addressed included installing rope and post type barriers in front of vacant lots along Padre Boulevard and side street corner lots to prevent muddy parking and allow for vegetation to grow. The Council agreed the barriers should be aesthetically pleasing and moved to proceed with the project with a limit of $30,000 from the Public Works Fund and from excess reserves if necessary. Improvements at the Polaris Boat Ramp were also approved in the amount of $9,000.
A Public Hearing was held during the meeting to discuss annexing a 4.5 acre territory to include the Padre Island Inn Subdivision, also known as Ocean Towers property, into the City’s limits. The council approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 15-02 to annex the property. They also showed support of neighboring cities Port Isabel and Laguna Vista by approving a resolution expressing concern and objection to the City of Brownsville’s strip annexations, addressing the problem of annexation without city services being provided.
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