PI plans coastal, street, other improvements – Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Special to the PRESS

The City of Port Isabel held a regular commissioner’s meeting at the City Commission Chambers Meeting Room on Maxan St. on Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. During the public comment open forum, a citizen complained about a street condition that reportedly caused him to fall and injure himself, making it hard to work. The next day, he filed a report at the police department.

The Council approved the meeting minutes on March 12, with a typo corrected beforehand. They also approved paying the city’s current bills.

During regular reports, Valerie Bates, Communications Director, commented on the progress of the annual Easter Egg hunt on Saturday the 29th. Fire Chief John Sandoval reported that he received a response from a company that might be interested in monitoring the percussive effects of the SpaceX rocket launches on various structures in the city. City Manager Jared Hockema said the town was receiving bids for the work needed on the City Cemetery to utilize best the space left and the last possible expansion project.

Bates also mentioned the Solar Eclipse event at the top of the Port Isabel Historic Lighthouse on Monday, April 8, from noon to 3 p.m. Special tickets are being sold for $50 each, and there is room for 20 people total. The price includes refreshments, a special swag bag, approved safety glasses, and an unparalleled view of the eclipse.

Under New Business, the first two items, requests from Cameron County, were approved together. They were for designating the P.I. City Commission Chambers Meeting Room as the General Election’s Early Voting and Election Day site from April 22 through April 30 and Tuesday, May 04. It is also needed for the Primary Runoff Election from May 20 through May 24 and Tuesday, May 28.

The Council approved an interlocal agreement establishing Port Isabel’s membership in the TexBuy Purchasing Cooperative, allowing the city to purchase items needed for the cooling system at the Event Center at the best prices.

The Council unanimously approved a master turnkey agreement with Trane U.S., Inc., for upgrades to the HVAC system at the P.I. Event and Cultural Center. The Council intends to reimburse the expenditure with future proceeds from the improvement bond that voters approved. Trane’s city manager and representatives explained that much consideration went into the agreement, like the rate at which equipment has rusted in this marine environment, to come up with the most cost-effective but long-range solutions to fixing and replacing the aging cooling system at $894,076.

The Council approved putting out a Request for Qualifications for professional engineering services in connection with the Garcia St. and North Shore Drive Street repaving projects to reimburse this expenditure with bond proceeds. Doing so would allow the city to solicit engineers for the project, which could repave all of Garcia Street, the east end of North Shore Drive, and a portion of Longoria as needed, depending on the cost of the proposed project.

The Council approved agreeing with Alexander Business Development to prepare an application to the Healthy and Resilient Gulf of Mexico program. A representative explained the shoreline improvement project to prevent erosion of the city’s shores from annual winter storms and other significant storms that might affect the area. The management of a 6-million-dollar grant by experts at Texas A&M and the UTRGV would consist of funding projects for Port Isabel and Laguna Vista.

The shore improvement project will improve water quality, help protect the shoreline from erosion, and protect existing ecological environments like seagrass beds. Being part of this coalition would better position the city to receive funding for this important improvement project and save the cost of constant repairs to existing sea walls. Councilman Martin Cantu, Sr., mentioned his intent to also look into acquiring a piece of property to create more public access to fishing and other water recreation.

The Council also approved the appointment of new members to the Parks & Recreation Board. Commissioner Place 2 Carmen Rios appointed Gayle Curry, and Commissioner Place 4 Jeffery David Martinez appointed Oscar Garza.

The Council approved the first reading of Resolution No. 03-26-2024-2 authorizing the P.I. Economic Development Corporation (E.D.C.) to spend $250,000 of project funds renovating the roof and A/C system at the city’s Event and Cultural Center.

The Council approved the first reading of Resolution No. 03-26-2024-3 authorizing the expenditure of project funds by the city’s E.D.C. for the conceptual design of the Port Isabel Historic Sties Visitors Center. The money is for the conceptual design of the Visitor’s Center, which includes a Maritime Museum. Local maritime history includes the 1554 Shipwreck, the Lighthouse, and the Palmito Ranch Battlefield State Historic Site. The shipwreck is the oldest coastal shipwreck found in the United States. Some of its items are on display in the Maritime Museum.

The Council went into Closed Session to deliberate the lease of real property described as 0.9640 of an acre tract of land BLK 61 PORT ISABEL ORIGINAL TOWNSITE (VOL 7 P.G. 23 MRCC) TRACT G BETW TARNAVA & GARCIA ST MO PAC TRACKAGE OPP BLK 6, Deed and Map Records, Cameron County, Texas, under Texas Government Code, Section 551.072. The Council returned to an Open Session and moved to approve the closed-session action. Then the meeting was adjourned.

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