City approves drone program

Special to the PRESS

The South Padre Island City Council met Wednesday evening for their regular meeting. With the busy season in sight, the council addressed further infrastructure improvements and made preparations for Spring Break.

During weekly Spring Break preparation meetings, city staff has been considering forward-thinking measures including the use of a City Drone/Unassisted Aerial Vehicles Program. According to City Manager Bill DiLibero, Mayor Barry Patel recently suggested that the city look into drones to be used for crowd control and management during the busiest times on the island. Furthermore, as technology continues to progress, some drones can serve as first response for water emergencies, searching for distressed persons and landing with a flotation device until a lifeguard reaches the scene. Currently, staff is looking at drones in the realm of $1,500 per unit. Though legislature does not require an ordinance in a city with populations lower than 150,000, the city manager encouraged implementation of a policy for liability purposes. The council quickly authorized the City Drone Program.

Additional safety precautions included authorization for a walking line on Gulf Boulevard. The wide street and white lines often prove unclear for motorists who end up driving in the pedestrian walking area, an obvious safety concern. The council agreed on a combination of solutions including the addition green paint and rumble strips, which are also used for the Padre Boulevard Bike lanes.

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