Saturday, November 26, 2005
Down here the locals have a name for the huge condominium projects going up – the “hurricane prevention barrier.” Yes, it’s not your South Padre Island of the old days, with a few really ugly high-rises near the causeway. The ugliest has to be Bridgepoint, or some ghastly name like that, which was designed by a Texas architect to resemble a cowboy boot. Sorry, that’s what it is (maybe with a little help from the joy-juice or hippie herb) and its only benefit is that you can see it over ten miles out to sea, as a right handy nautical landmark.
But wait, more are coming! Hopefully not more boots, but condos of all kinds. Knock down a few old fishing camps from the 1950’s and call it progress. Heck, with commercial land over a million bucks an acre, that’s about the only way to make a buck. Well that’s not entirely true, as some of these folks bought land from or passed down through the original, Old Man Tompkins himself for maybe a few grand. But the condo-ization trend is rather disturbing to the locals to say the least. Florida-ization, and worse yet there is Californication!
We want a town, not a Condo City.
But first let me define the “we” here. We’re folks who wanted to move to a nice spot of paradise, retired, semi-retired, or even like myself and my wife, working. We own residential property and pay taxes and don‘t see much being done for the good of the community and its 2,000 registered voters. You’d have to agree many parts of the commercial development on the Island looks like crap. On the other hand you have the free market boys and girls who think extracting and exploiting the biggest buck out of South Padre Island’s property is a God-given right. Hey it’s a small town and we all love each other and rarely ever hold grudges - but do you feel the tension now?
So in the previous town election, there was a slight change in regime from the condo freebooters and those who wanted a sense of community. The most vocal group was and is known as SPIRIT. Admittedly, some of these folks live in McMansions of untold prices but their heart is in the right place. Why should we be supporting an economy of transitory visitors who trash the beach and trash the town, without really spending much money here? You want to build a park for these folks on my front yard? Well sign me up, Luther, maybe these SPIRIT people are onto something.
To make a long story short, I’ve asked some of the politicos for a one-year moratorium on all high-rise construction so as to allow time for developing a Comprehensive Plan. It will be interesting to see how things develop when everyone comes back from Thanksgiving.