By GAIGE DAVILA
Several local, county, and state officials officially opened the new pavilion and boardwalk on Isla Blanca Park via a ribbon cutting ceremony on August 29, just before sunset.
The pavilion and boardwalk have been open since last week, in conclusion to over a year of construction that included: reconstructing and connecting the Sandpiper Pavilion and D.J. Lerma Pavilion; building a lighted beach boardwalk; reconstructing the parking lot, and constructing a conservation dune system, with the help of Texas A&M Kingsville, the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley and the Cameron County Native Plant Center. The pavilion has several picnic tables, all constructed by the San Benito CISD NJROTC Cadets.
In all, the pavilion and boardwalk cost $19 million, paid for by South Padre Island’s venue tax, a half percent tax on every dollar for a hotel or short-term rental on the Island.
Speakers included Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr.; Cameron County commissioners Sofia C. Lopez (Precinct 1), Joey Lopez (Precinct 2), David A. Garza (Precinct 3), and Gus Ruiz (Precinct 4); South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty; Natalie Bell, Manager of the Beach Access & Dune Protection Program at the Texas General Land Office; Director of Parks and Recreation of Cameron County Joe E. Vega; and State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., District 27 (Brownsville).
Corpus Christi, Texas, based architecture firm GIGNAC Architects, Richardson, Texas, based engineering firm HALFF Associates, and La Feria, Texas, based contractor Noble Texas Builders designed and constructed the new Isla Blanca amenities.
“This park belongs to all of Cameron County, we’re the owners,” State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. said, commenting on the pavilion and boardwalk. “When I was a kid, I used to run up and down the sand dunes here. There was nothing here, except for a restaurant named ‘The Jetties.’ I couldn’t see this coming about in my lifetime.”
“It’s up to each and every one of us to take care of the investment that we made here, that we make sure we get the word out and enjoy ourselves here,” Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr. said. “This is for the benefit and use and enjoyment of our Cameron County families and our visitors to the Island.”
The ceremony concluded with a concert by the Lost Puppies, who are opening for Sublime with Rome on October 12, for the Isla Blanca Amphitheater’s first concert.
Cameron County has some future projects for the Island as well, according to Cameron County Parks Director Joe Vega: Beach Access #3 will soon have restrooms, rinse stations and more parking, and recreational vehicle sites on Isla Blanca Park will undergo some renovations.