Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Beach Batle Brewing?

(The proposed hi-rise would be about three times higher than the one in the picture and even closer to the water.)
New Beach Battle Brewing? A proposed project to build a 36 story hi-rise has been tabled by the Nueces County Commisioners Court. This development would feature a raised walkway and a bar and restaurant less than 200 feet from the beach.
The project's structures would be around 360 feet high and encompass 500 condos. The commissioners were set to vote on the proposal until the county's beach management advisory committee chairman raised questions concerning placing the walkways, restaurant and restrooms close to the water. Some commissioners wanted answers from the Navy about the possibility the buildings' heights would be a hazard to flight training. Committee chariman Fred McCutchon was quoted in the Caller/Times on Thursday, November 30, 2006, saying "You have to question whether this bar and restaurant will have an impact on dunes and vegetation that is not acceptable," He added "If this is approved, we're going to see a break in the dike of development. We're going to see bars and restaurants up and down the dunes." Commisioner Betty Jean Longoria made a very pertinent observation. "My question to myself is, 'Who draws the line if we let one or two developers in? Do we let the future ones know they can't have similar features?" According to the Caller/Times story all of the existing condo structures on Mustang Island alongside Hiway 361 are 350 feet or more from the water. The story further states, quoting MCutchon, the "... proposed resort would feature the tallest buildings along the Texas coast south of Houston." Really? Is this how we want our beaches utilized?
Read between the lines and it is obvious that Naismith Engineering and the developers thought they already had a done deal. The city had already signed off on this. What a surprise! When did this happen? Was there any public discussion concerening such a potentially ecologically disastrous development? Such construction could severely impact the formation and maintenace of sand dunes and, becuase of the natural cycle of sand migration along the coast and between dunes, sand bars and beaches, threaten the existence of the adjacent beach and its sand dunes.
And, once again, the spectre of future hurricanes seems to hold no terrors for the un-limited, un-regulated beach development advocates.
From the article by Evia Aguilar and David Kassabian:
A proposed 10-foot wide dune walkover that would allow golf carts to transfer residents from condos to the beach also could set a precedent and compromise the dunes, McCutchon told the commissioners. Without enough space between the walkway and dunes, earth under the structure could erode, creating a flooding risk during storm surges, he said. The city already signed off on the development proposal without questioning the walkway and sent its recommendation to the General Land Office. The city is responsible for sending all construction recommendations near the water to the land office for approval. The county is responsible for making sure the dunes are protected and also must send its recommendation to the land office for comment. The land office on Tuesday requested the city provide information about how the walkway and other structures near the water do not hurt the dunes or dune vegetation, said land office spokesman Jim Suydam. "Dune vegetation is important because that's what holds dunes together and creates a natural seawall," Suydam said. "We just want to know more details." City officials involved in the project did not return calls Wednesday afternoon. Commissioners also said they wanted to hear from the Navy before making a decision because they had heard the three condo towers might interfere with flight training. Bob Torres, a public affairs officer for Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, said the proposed structure would be in the flight path training pilots use, but it would not be a deal-breaker for Navy training. "Anytime we get a structure that high, it is of concern to us, but it is not an actual problem," Torres said. "The flight paths could be modified and something could be worked out." David Underbrink, project engineering manager for Naismith Engineering, said Pat Walters, the developer, approached him with plans for the Mustang Island resort about a year ago. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2007 and should be completed by summer 2009, Underbrink said. He did not know how the delay would impact the developer and said he was disappointed with comments made during Wednesday's meeting. "When we brought this before the committee four weeks ago, there was no indication of concerns and I was under the impression there were no issues that had to be addressed," Underbrink said. "I was caught by surprise by the meeting today and I am not really sure what will happen now." Walters has 23 acres under contract for purchase, Underbrink said, and the sale was to be finalized Dec. 16. He is unsure whether that will happen now. Jack Ponton, a real estate agent in Port Aransas and member of the county's beach management advisory committee, said he was surprised by the decision to table the item, but believes the development will go through. "I don't think the tabling means this project is denied, it just means they want more information on what will happen if it is approved," Ponton said. Naismith and Walters have met with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Texas Department of Transportation and the city of Corpus Christi. The last major step of the permit process for the condominium complex was getting a dune permit from Nueces County. The dune permitting process usually starts with the Nueces County Department of Public Works and is followed by a meeting with the County Beach Management Advisory Committee. The committee makes a recommendation to the Commissioners Court, which then sends its own recommendation to the General Land Office. The Commissioners Court decides whether to grant the permit after weighing the land office's comments.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

South Jetty Port Aransas

Monty Reitz paddling out on a fun day at the South Jetty

South Jetty Port Aransas, Monty Reitz

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Beach On North Padre Island In November! Let's Keep It This Way!

We recently had a battle concerning development and cars on the beach. The people desirous of the status quo were victorious, for now. This fight will stir up once again I am afraid.

These pictures were taken here on the beach in November, it was absolutley perfect weather! This is my friend Guy Leroux, with the funny cap, and me playing a guitar. We're not doing much, just goofing off on a beautiful day at the beach, and this is how it should stay out there!

Notice the beach in its natural state as it is now in much of our county and all of the Kleberg County beach. How long will it stay this way? It is up to us who love it as it is.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Letter To The Mayor

The following is a letter I sent to Corpus Christi Mayor, Henry Garett. This letter was sent in response to remarks he made on a local TV news program concerning the defeat of the attempted beach taking he and most of the city council supported. He said the community needed to go forward with developoment on our local beaches and didn't feel the elction results were a referendum on development.

Mayor Garrett,
I hope you are well and enjoying the weather. Now the election is over and the people have voted on the beach issue I have a couple of thoughts I would like to share. Development in general and especially on Padre Island is not automatically a good thing. Too many times I have heard calls for development from elected officials and politicians with little thought given to the kind of development and regulations concerning development. Development on the island should not be unchecked and willy-nilly. The environment has to be considered, density and building height and size requirements should be part of the planning. Considerations for public use need to be paramount, not secondary and the desire and needs of the public should take precedence over developers, especially foreign and out of town developers!
I was once a reporter for Marie Speers' papers and the islands were part of my beat. I recall talking to residents of the Pioneer RV park, which recently disappeared, swallowed up by a mega-development in Port Aransas, and many people there told me they liked to come here and winter because it wasn't like South Padre island or Miami Beach. They liked the wide open beaches where they could go where they wanted and the relatively un-spoiled coastal environment was a big draw for them.
Wonder where they are now their RV park is gone? Some of them, and they were from all across the country, had been coming here for years.
My point is, the more un-developed we can keep our beaches the more marketable they will be in the future. People don't come here because they want to stay in a particular hotel or resort, they come here because we still have some relatively pristine beaches, easily accessible. Such places have nearly disappeared, making ours all the more valuable. Eco-tourism is becoming a major aspect of traveler's destinations and has kept afloat the economies in some of the most impoverished countries in Africa and other third world countries. Future development needs to do a better job than what we have seen so far locally.
And does anyone remember a little thing called hurricanes? We have been extraordinarily lucky in recent years but sooner or later that will change and we will get hit. I know you recall Celia, so do I. There wasn't much on Padre Island then but remember what happened to Port Aransas, Aransas Pass and here. What would Padre Island look like if we get hit by another Celia, which was, I believe, a category 3 storm.
I am not arguing against development because the genie is out of the bottle. I am arguing for responsible development taking more into consideration than the enrichment of a few title companies, developers and realtors. Padre Island is our goose that laid the golden egg. We need to take special care not to let it become a rotten egg!
Dicky Neely

I received a response from the Mayor, very promptly I would say! I got this in email at around 12:30 pm. 11-10-06. By the way, I found out I was wrong about the Pioneer RV Park. It is still there! I just missed it the other day when I drove by. I called them today to check and they said that they may be taken over in the new development but for now they are still here.

Mr. Neely:
First of all thank you for your email. My position on development is that we need planned and continuous development. I believe the voters have spoken loud and clear about the vehicular traffic on the beach.
I do agree with you about the hurricanes. I have a lot of concern about hurricanes myself because I was in Corpus Christi during hurricanes Celia and Allen and definitely realize the damage one can do.
I intend to work with the the council and citizens to make certain that whatever we do on the beach we do it with the intent of having a quality, safe, and clean beach.
Once again thank you for expressing your concerns. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 826-3100.
Henry Garrett,

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I just found out today that Whataburger, a home grown food chain, very well known in these parts, had contributed a large amount of money to the campaign that tried to steal our beach!
This really upsets me! I don't suppose I should be surprised, it seems greed knows no bounds.
I have been eating Whataburgers for years but no more! My brother used to work for Whataburger back in the 60's and I know a member of the family that started the company but I will spend no more money with them. I know which side they are on now when it comes to greedy politicians and developers and I will not support them with my business.


We Won!
I want to express my congratulations for a well won victory and thanks to all who worked so hard.It feels good today but we must remain vigilant. The wolf will be at the door again, probably before we know it.Perhaps the coalition that is the BAC can be useful in future battles, that are surely coming, as a grass roots organization to help guide future development and environmental issues and to elect local and even other officials.Next April I don't think we can let the public forget who it was that wanted to take away their beach!The greedy ones have their well placed advocates in government positions and in the media. There needs to be a counter force and in this election we were it!Thanks all!

Monday, November 06, 2006

REAL Surfers Respect Nature and the Aloha Spirit!

This is a picture of me surfing at the Fish Pass several years ago when I was a "real" surfer!
Well tomorrow is election day and the race most locals here in Corpus Christi voters are watching is the vote on the beach referendums.
Anyone here knows about the battle between greedy developers and the general population about closing off about a mile and a half of the beach to vehicular traffic.
I urge people to vote No one One and Yes on Two.
Lately there has been a lot of talk, and a large newspaper ad in this morning's Caller/Times, which has been a cheerleader for the beach give-away, claiming "real" surfers were for the beach closure. There followed a list of so-called real surfers. I know some of those on the list and I even like two of them. They may surf but they have no claim to say that those who oppose them aren't "real" surfers!
John Trice said in a recent interview "...most of the surfers in the Beach Access Coalition are old guys and they don't really surf!" Bull! That would be a surprise to some of my friends who surf nearly every day and never miss a swell.
I will admit that I no longer surf, but it's not because I don't want to. Those who know me know what the story is and to others I don't feel I owe any explanation. If you want to know about it call me and I'll tell you. I have friends I have known since the mid 60's when we all started surfing in local waters that still surf and could carve circles around some of these so-called "real" surfers!
The Beach Access Coalition is a grass-roots organization composed of all kinds of people, not just surfers, who don't appreciate our local city council's attempt to give away our public beach to rich out of town developers and their wealthy local developer friends!
It's not surprising that this election has taken a nasty turn. Some of the proponents for the beach closing see this as a way for them to get rich and to hell with the public interest!