By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
At their Monday afternoon regular monthly meeting, the South Padre Island Shoreline Task Force began discussion to develop a strategy and plan of action to recommend to the City Council for further annexation of the remaining sections and areas west of the Tompkins Channel in the Laguna Madre Bay.
In the past, the City annexed the area known as the Tompkins Channel and maintains jurisdiction in that area of the bay. Currently, the City is working towards annexing land to the north all the way to the area of the proposed second causeway and has a limited amount of available acreage for annexation per year. Task Force member Troy Giles, along with the help of Coastal Resources and Parks Administrator Reuben Treviño, gave a presentation at Monday’s meeting regarding ideas for further annexation into the bay. One goal of the water annexation would be to provide safety for recreational users with enforcement of boater speeds and no wake zones, especially for the wellbeing of those using small crafts such as kayaks, jet skis and paddleboards. It would also give the City more control regarding the private lease of property from the Texas General Land Office (GLO) for private use piers being built on the water’s edge.
Taking into account the property that the City Council has already agreed to annex, Giles and Treviño mapped out a 52 acre stretch that would extend the City’s jurisdiction along the bay shoreline. Additionally, they prepared a map for a possible future annexation strategy to extend city limits further into the bay and even all the way past the Queen Isabella Causeway to the original causeway.
The task force agreed to support a recommendation to the SPI City Council for annexation of the 52 acre stretch of land to extend the Tompkins Channel.
The next portion of land that will likely be considered is an 85 acre block that is connected to the current city limit on the Tompkins Channel and sits in front of the City’s entertainment district. Giles suggested using the area as a floating marina, potentially to bring in large boats or more sail boats with intent to increase economic development on the Island. He imagined water taxis picking up passengers at bay street ends and providing transportation to the floating marina. This idea would take extensive time and money in permitting the area, and Giles recognized that stakeholders, including those in the entertainment district, should be addressed.
Others were unsure of the idea, as this area is already popular for recreational use, but Giles stressed the importance of addressing at least the topic of annexation. He pointed out that the bay is likely the second biggest attraction on South Padre Island, only after the beach, and that it has a huge economic impact. The committee plans to await the council’s response to their recommendation and will address further expansion in future meetings.
At the request of Breakers Condominiums at 708 Padre Blvd., task force members also approved a Beach and Dune permit to build a walkover for pedestrians as a way to protect the dune system from breaking down at their property.
Coming up, the Dune Restoration Volunteer Program will start again on Saturday, Oct. 24 and Nov. 7. Times and locations will be announced in the coming weeks.
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