By PAMELA CODY
Special to the PRESS
The South Padre Island City Council held its regular meeting Wednesday, November 6, to approve budget amendments, discuss annexation, and to appoint an attorney for the city.
After going into executive session, South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty, all city council members and city manager Randy Smith emerged to announce that Edmund K. Cyganiewicz was selected as SPI city attorney.
Cyganiewicz, a Brownsville attorney for over 30 years, is a criminal law specialist and previously served as the chief felony prosecutor for Cameron County. Cyganiewicz also served as SPI alderman
from 1985 – 1996 and SPI mayor from 1996 – 2002.
The city council also approved a motion supporting the annexation of the Laguna Madre area into the Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (RGVMPO).
Cameron County Seat 3 Commissioner David Garza was on hand, and briefly commented, saying “I think it’s a big step for the Laguna Madre area, so that you all can have access to funds that never in the past in the Laguna Madre area has ever had the ability to even be able to ask for, much less access.”
Mayor Patrick McNulty agreed, commenting “I think it’s great for the RGV.” Garza continued, adding “It completes the RGV in regards to planning purposes for mobility and for access. We look forward to the input and also what can be brought to you from that organization.”
Darla Lapeyre from the SPI EDC addressed the council, requesting a budget amendment from excess reserves in the amount of $475,500 for EDC projects. The projects include funds for a business plan proposal for a nature attraction on the EDC property; an investment prospectus for Opportunity Zone, a marketing piece; additional funding for the facade grant program; funds to rejoin the Rio South Texas Economic Council; new website and social media promotions; the artificial reef, and a marina feasibility study.
Mayor McNulty queried Lapeyre on the marina feasibility study, asking “Are we studying a particular piece of property?” to which Lapeyre replied, “We want to look at a marina for both small and large boats and what would be the best location.” McNulty countered, saying “I’m just trying to figure out where you’d put a marina of any size on South Padre Island that’s connected to the Thompkins Channel or not on county land or not wetlands or whatever.” Lapeyre replied that the EDC had gotten a call from a property owner that was very interested and would like to work with the city on that.
In other business, council members approved a contract with the Econ Group for the PR 100 median, boardwalk and sidewalk improvements. The Council also authorized city manager Randy Smith to negotiate a contract of professional services for the White Sands Street drive-over and storm surge barrier project and to sign a contract if acceptable terms are reached.
Shoreline Director Kristina Boburka addressed the council with an update on the particle tracing study that has been under way over the past year. “We’re expecting all data to be analyzed by early 2020,” Boburka reported.
CVB Director Ed Caum requested and was approved for a budget amendment of $200,000 from excess reserves for in-house marketing and public relations media and content buys. Caum also asked for and was granted an additional $26,000 to co-fund an economic development study for the land adjacent to the Convention Centre that is owned by the Birding and Nature Center, for a possible aquarium.
“There’s a certain point on the Island where there is inclement weather, or you’re sunburned and you need other things to do. It would be great to have an amenity that we can market both for the leisure side but also for the groups and meetings side as well.”
And lastly, Public Works Director Alex Sanchez requested and was approved to negotiate a contract for surveying services for Laguna Boulevard in the amount of $50,000. Also approved was authorization for the city manager to enter a lease agreement with CNH Industrial Capital for a backhoe to be used by Public Works.