By Gaige Davila
South Padre Island’s city council discussed and approved several project initiatives on Wednesday, January 23, during their regular council meeting. Council also voted to cancel their contract with their state lobbyist, Austin, Texas, based Focused Advocacy Group. The city was paying $10,000 a month for their services, councilwoman Eva Jean-Dalton said during the meeting. Dalton motioned the cancellation with councilman and mayor pro-tem Ken Medders seconding the motion.
A representative of Focused Advocacy Group sent an email to Wendi Delgado, director of operations for the city’s Administrative Services department, on January 23, saying they were not notified that their contract would be an agenda item or discussed by council and requested the item to be delayed until the firm could be present. After a lengthy discussion, the council motioned to cancel the contract. The firm now has 90 days to potentially renegotiate the contract.
Delgado said the city and Focused Advocacy Group have been corresponding for the last few weeks, preparing for a legislative workshop on February 4 and 5 on the Island. The firm was preparing to determine what legislative issues the city wanted to advocate for or against in the upcoming state legislative session. The firm was hired last year. In the city’s 2019-2020 budget, $70,000 is outlined for legislative services.
The South Padre Island Convention Centre’s expansion feasibility study, conducted by Chicago, Illinois, based C.H. Johnson Consulting, is a predecessor to a planned 3-story, westward expansion of the Convention Centre, with ballroom, bar, and deck on the third floor and roof of the new wing. In total, the planned expansion consists of 130,600 square feet of space.
South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) said survey results taken from Island residents showed interest in the expansion project. Caum said the first phases of the project would be moving the sales office and redoing the concession stand.
Council members approved the study and motioned for CVB and C.H. Johnson to return to council at a later time with design recommendations.
Council approved for South Padre Island City Manager Randy Smith to execute a contract with Hanson Professional Services, Inc., a consulting firm based in Springfield, Illinois, for the Quiet Wind and Water Sports Park with no discussion, other than councilman Joe Ricco saying, “Let’s get some shovels in the ground.”
The city will submit their base design of the John L. Tompkins Park’s second phase to Texas Parks and Wildlife. SPI mayor Patrick McNulty said ground would break on the second phase this fall. The first phase of John L. Tompkins park was completed in 2015, with a $400,000 grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife. The city received a $500,000 grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife for the park last year for the second phase. The park is located at 6100 South Padre Blvd and is named after John L. Tompkins, who purchased the 1470 acres of Padre Island in 1950 and began selling the land, becoming the Island’s first developer.
The skatepark within the park, which is a component of the second phase, is still in the design phase and is not included in the base design of the John L. Tompkins Park. The city expects conceptual design of the skate park before spring break, with bids for construction going out in the summer.
Council approved purchasing a 4 feet by 7 feet welcome sign placed just after exiting the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway that says “Welcome to South Padre Island.” The original wording, “Welcome to the Jewel of South Texas The Cleanest Beaches in Texas,” was deemed too wordy by council members and members of the public in attendance.
Designing and designating locations for new shade structures along Padre Boulevard—similar to those found at the Boardwalk at Isla Blanca Park—were approved by council.
Council approved a funding request from the South Padre Island Convention Center for $4,065 for a new fridge, surround sound system, sound panels, tables, and art features inside.
For the last three items: East Sunset Street will be made a one-way street for all of March; council’s regular meeting on March 18, 2020, has been rescheduled for March 25; and the city approved for Smith to begin the hiring process for a new City Secretary. Current City Secretary Susan Manning is leaving the position on March 31.