By Gaige Davila
In the Hilton Garden Inn ballroom, South Padre Island mayor Patrick McNulty delivered his first “State of the Island” address, nearly 8 months after being elected in May 2019. The address was delivered during the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Public Affairs Luncheon.
McNulty discussed several upcoming projects, including the the PR 100 Median, Boardwalk and Sidewalk improvement project, which began this month; the now-named Quiet Water Sports Park (initially the SPI Wind and Water Sports Park), just north of the Shores residential development; the second phase of the John L. Tompkins Park, which includes a skatepark; bringing cruise ships to the Island, with help from the Cameron County Commissioners Court; and developing a second causeway.
“The last six months have been a challenging and rewarding experience,” McNulty said in concluding his address. “I look forward to continuing working with my friends on the council to move our island forward and complete several infrastructure projects.”
Ed Caum, executive director of South Padre Island’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), mentioned the city’s advertising, including a new commercial that aired nationwide on January 20, and showed where visitors to the island were coming from, which centered around the midwest. Visitors from Portland, Oregan, and Seattle, Washington, are part of “emerging markets” the city is hoping to attract more of. Caum also said more visitors from Mexico were coming to the Island.
Darla Lapeyre, executive director of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said the city’s sales tax revenue increased to 6.76 percent, and the the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT), a source collected from hotel and short term rentals on the Island and Cameron County, increased by 3.07 percent. Lapeyre attributed the increases to 27 businesses being opened in the last two years on the Island. Lapeyre said over 5 million people visited the Island, with 4 million being daytrippers from the Rio Grande Valley.
Lapeyre mentioned the EDC’s façade improvement grants, which funds businesses along Padre Boulevard with $25,000 grants. Island Fun Park, B&S Kites, F&B Restaurant, and the soon-to-be-opened Jake’s Restaurant have received these grants, and two more businesses are pending their application approval. The grant can be applied for at any time.
Some notable guests were present at the address, including State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (District 27), who is currently running for reelection; Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño; Cameron County commissioners Sofia Benavidez (Pct. 1) and Joey Lopez (Pct. 2); and Cameron County Parks Director and former mayor of Port Isabel Joe Vega.
Editor’s Note: The Port Isabel-South Padre Press are members of the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce.