Sunday, February 19, 2006

Surfriders Chat with the Judge

Just got back from Louie's where Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa met with members of the local branch of the Surfrider Foundation regarding concerns about the proposed Isla Blanca Park development. These folks are primarily concerned with losing access to what is arguably the best surfing beach in Texas -- the idea of displacing the trailer park was also a concern. The room was packed and I saw 4 of the 5 aldermen in attendance, as well as Joann Evens, who has filed for the May election.

Some personal observations:

1. There are two proposed projects on the table: one only swings into play if/when the state legislature decides to put casino gambling to a state referendum. Since that did not happen in the most recent session, this is not part of the current discussion. Furthermore, the county commissioners have already signed off on this and have a contract. Should gambling pass in the next session, we are very likely to get a casino. The Judge says he did not hear any negative comments before the county commissioners did this. (Okay, he may have gotten one phone call.)

2. The other proposed project is limited in scope to an aquarium and some other smaller concessions and possibly condos. It is still in the discussion phase with nothing signed. The judge says that just how this aquarium is going to pay for itself has not been fully explained to his satisfaction. He also expressed some personal reservations about using county property for condos.

3. Neither project would affect the beach access areas currently being utilized by the public. Parking seems to be a gray area. The trailer spaces would be relocated to a spot in Isla Blanca someplace north of where they are now.

4. Since I am one of the "permanent" park dwellers who was kicked out of the park (about 15 years ago, and yes, I am still pissed off about it) to make room for the current "temporary" residents, I have a hard time working up any great amount of sympathy for them.(I know this contradicts a previous post. I ahve had more time to think about it.)

5. The judge seemed very open to public comment and has stated repeatedly the the town of SPi needs to be involved in the decision-making process.

6. If you don't want gambling to come to SPI, you need to talk to your state legislators - loudly and often.

7. The judge made reference to the fact that after the surfrider grilling he needed a beer. However, when I tried to buy him one he turned it down. How this reflects upon him is open to speculation/discussion.

If I got something wrong or left out anything important, please feel free to correct me.


Blogger Sam said...

Um yeah, did you say 4 of 5 Aldermen were at the same meeting without having it posted under the Texas Open Meetings Act? How does that work? Just a simple question ...

5:42 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

The aldermen did not speak to the crowd or to each other, as near as I could tell. (Mr. Ridolfi may have made a public comment, actually.) They appeared to be there only to observe.

A good thing, I think.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I read an update in the Island Breeze today and it still made my blood boil, that IF GAMBLING PASSES, IT IS A DONE DEAL - NO MORE ISLA BLANCA PARK.

Frankly, I wasn't down here when this happened and where the heck were all you locals? Asleep at the switch?

So if by some screwball reason the Texas Legislature passes gambling before some time in 2009, there's basically nothing we can do unless we take the County to court.

I don't think this will happen during the special session regarding school taxation but next year is the Regular Session. It scares the dickens out of me. It stinks, sounds corrupt as hell, and does not help me enjoy the Island one speck.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the latest PI Press -- I don't think the judge was giving us the whole story. It looks like there may indeed be a signed agreement without the gambling but the rest of the whole plan - marina, condos, etc. - is pretty much a done deal. I hope I am wrong.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What’s the headline? “County Whores itself out to developers”?

6:56 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

They kicked my ass out of the county park in 1992 because "permanent residents are not allowed to live on county land." I wonder what they are going to call the owners of those 1000 condo units they are planning to build?!

7:20 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

This is simply the most important issue on the Sand Spit and I cannot emphasize that enough. If you think DRPB (the design review board), medians, or Comprehensive Plans are the main things, well good on you because casino gambling will eventually ruin all those lofty ideals and goals you may have.

It is like a former Republican governor candidate said one time - guess his ugly name - who said "It is like rape, just set back and enjoy it."

Dear sirs, I am not setting back.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any idea of how many of these Isla Blanca Park developers are involved in the "business" groups on the Island?

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Basically, Gilberto and the County are scheming to sell (or lease in perpetuity) a sizable portion of Isla Blanca Park to private developers, whether that be gambling interests or others. As I recall, a reason given for kicking the permanent residents out in '92 because it was deemed at that time to be an inappropriate use of a public park because it restricted public use. Now, they are flat out selling our park. Good bye forever open space. Where on earth else could a government get away with selling a park? That, in my opinion is the appalling issue here: they are selling your f'g park! How much did they include island residents in the decision to sell their only park? Nada! And, by the way, if this all goes down, forget about finding a place to park by the jetties when the surf is up.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad taste, greed and corruption are a tough and nasty combination to beat.

5:35 PM  

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