Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Isla Blanca Park deal came in under the radar"

Author Ben Christensen is a columnist for The Brownsville Herald and served as a Marine infantry sergeant in Iraq. He is currently a high school English teacher in Los Fresnos. He can be reached at



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Mr. Christensen hits the issue squarely on the head in his Herald piece. Not only is selling the best and most irreplaceable park in Cameron County bad policy but the process by which it was imposed upon the citizens had no openness to it. Believe me, the County government does not care what the residents of South Padre Island think about their actions. The Judge's meeting with the Surfriders was after-the-fact. SPI is seen in Brownsville political circles as an electorally insignificant of mainly republican voters. The bulk of the mainland voters will need to be made aware of these shenanagans and take action if any of this has a chance of being blocked.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old people are pissed. The viejitos are on the war path. I hear it every day.

Rumor has it that they are no longer going to be able to come to the park after this year. They are going to be displaced all the way though town, way up to the North end where there will be new, substandard RV parking. Meanwhile, the evil greedy County will be insanely profiting from the sell-out lease of the South end County Park to equally unscrupulous developers, who will construct high rise condominiums, shops, casinos and other assorted and sundry infrastructure, quashing their access, and that of the common citizen, including the minions of beachgoers, surfers and locals who once had free reign of this area. No longer will the fringe element have the parking lots of the park to kick back and smoke a doobie or two in after exiting the water, which belongs solely to them.

In a sense they’re right. The beach does belong to them, along with every other citizen of the County, State, Country and World. By decree, this right CANNOT be limited. No matter what happens to the aerial portions of the park. Before we continue, allow me to indulge a moment or two of reminiscence.

….I remember coming to this place as a very young child, when the Island was a strip of undeveloped sand, a few fishing shacks, and a public park consisting of a few cabañas where you could get out of the sand blasting wind for a little while. “Uptown” didn’t exist. No condos, no gaudy “talliban” t-shirt shops, no bars. Development has been slow over the years and periodic rumblings of grandiose plans are heard, such as the South Bay Development project, or the Port Mansfield Cut Condominiums and Marina (remember those?), tossed around like an old bait box washed up on the waves, only to be sucked back out by the outgoing tide, ultimately transported and forever reposing on some netherworld beach of forgotten and harebrained ideas. After growing up here and seeing this time and again, one becomes jaded and skeptical.

Ahhh, but this particular scheme has all of the elements of controversy and mystery. Has there been a contract signed, a pact between two devils? What happens next? Most importantly, who can we blame for this?

It really cracks me up.

Bastards haven’t been minding the ships wheel for years, now all of the sudden, outrage! Should’ve quit smoking dope years ago, paid more attention to the things that matter. But of course, that requires an element of unselfish altruism, something that most of the “concerned citizens” probably are unfamiliar with. Shit no. Don’t take my beach…..

Well folks, a contract has been signed, and it’s been in effect for over two years already. The principals are moving ahead regardless if gambling passes or not, but I’m beginning to feel that this whole matter is much deeper than “plans to develop”….although that sets the stage for the game.

You see, best I can tell, it’s a power struggle between the island, County and City across the Bay. This is nothing new. Been going on since I was a little kid. Old Doc H' warned the City across the Bay that someday they were going to have to deal with what was at that time, a desolate strip of worthless sand.

Let me try and alliterate what’s happened here without coming out and naming names. Several years ago, when the contract was first forged, long before even an eyebrow was raised (I knew something about it even then, because of my association with the lab and its director who is friends with the principal player in the game, as well as the idea that the lab itself would be directly affected due to its location in the park. At that time, the City across the Bay quietly annexed a small portion of the park. Everyone thought the City across the Bay was crazy, and much fun was had with city limit signs after they were placed at the City across the Bays new limits in the park .

People never put two and two together, with the lease……

The other night I attended a meeting of the islands ruling infrastructure, where they were going to examine “the issue"….. I stayed low profile saying nothing, knowing the sensitivity of the matter.

Heaps of scorn were shoveled on the County, as the islands ruling infrastructure played the role of ignorant, benevolent benefactor. The islands ruling infrastructure denied knowing anything about the unholy alliance between the developers and the County, let alone reasons. The island did a good job of playing ignorant, telling the rumbling public that it should in fact, direct its anger toward the County, those bastards who struck the deal in the first place.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the principal player in the game is officially with the islands ruling infrastructure?........faux pas.

Another minor item that was conveniently overlooked at that meeting (because how would the islands ruling infrastructure have any knowledge of something they had no knowledge of?) was a proposal before the County Commission for the island to annex the park!

It appears to me that the principal player and the island have a guarded and secretive motive that the unsuspecting public is blissfully unaware of.

I don’t know much of the closed door politics that gives rise to these sort of things, but I suspect that some of the motives are childish and deep rooted, historic rivalries black and malignant.

Meanwhile, the innocents in the game, the keepers of the parks are being lumped into the same category as the key player, objects of bitter hatred, sellouts of the public interest.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me try and ‘splain……

The top dawg, and dawgs at the county see this power struggle, and know that change is inevitable. They also know that by capitalizing on the inevitable, revenue can be generated to provide good things for the rest of the Counties parks (which operate on the thinnest budgets), providing recreation for a myriad of landlocked people, who historically have, little or nothing.

By vision, the generation of revenue from an endeavor such as this would benefit families and children throughout the County. Knowing that little would change (by decree in the lease agreement the displaced RV’ers would have to be re-placed….and believe me they can be replaced ) and except for more island development (hey it’s OK to do it in the City, just not in MY PARK)…. The County has taken into consideration the benefit of all of its citizens, and not just a few elite waveriders…..

Even though I count myself a waverider, I still think it’s a good thing. Of course, I gave up smoking dope years ago, and the big picture, my community at large, and all it’s citizens are what concerns me, not just my own place. Hell, the break will still be there, the waves will always come rolling in, and there has to remain by law, public access to all beach, just like anywhere else……

Of course, this could all change should annexation occur. Something the island doesn’t want known, yet. Then, the island and the City across the Bay would have exclusive domain over the park. Kinda gets you thinking doesn’t it?.........

Bottom line, developments and development schemes come and go, seen it all before, the future remains uncertain.

One thing is for certain….. inevitably, a strong Chubasco will come, and blow all of the shit that has accumulated on the island for so long into the Laguna Madre.

Then, they’ll for sure need a true enhancement group…..

10:04 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

This interesting take would pack much more of a wallop if you were willing to identify yourself.

You make some pretty amazing accusations here. You seem to be suggesting that one of the aldermen or perhaps the mayor is a principal player in the Island Enhancement Group...? I don't see how something like that could be kept secret.

It is easy - but not terribly responsible - to level accusations like this from behind a mask of anonymity, isn't it?

8:17 PM  

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