Friday, February 10, 2006

Big Bayside Ugly

That’s a shot of the end of our street on South Padre Island. There are about 39 streets that dead-end into Laguna Madre like this, although each one is different. Ours may look nice at a distance but up close it is so ugly it could make a freight train take a dirt road.

So I’m on this Bay Area Task Force and one of our jobs is to make some recommendations about how to fix up this mess. It has been a rough ride so far, since this was done already in 1999 and was shot down in flames. There are a thousand competing things to spend Town money on, like fixing the beach accesses which were destroyed by last summer’s hurricane waves, to making Padre Boulevard more sexy and appealing. The bayside is more like an ugly kissing cousin.

However, if you think about it there are only two resources on the island: the beach and the bay. Over the last ten years millions have been spent on the beach for beach renourishment, access improvements, and cleaning; on the bayside I doubt that much more than $75,000 has been spent in as many years.

Some street ends actually are in pretty good shape, although most of the bulwarks were constructed in the 70’s and 80’s and are now falling apart. Many street ends such as ours turned into a construction waste dump, fondly called “rip-rap” comprised of broken concrete, concrete truck dregs and trash. Even the General Land Office loves the construction dump appearance, noting oysters and eel grass growing rampantly.

So my initial recommendations were purely clinical at first, using an engineering approach to bring the street ends up to date and to clean up the dump sites. As far as “beautification” which could involve native plants, benches, paths, and so forth, I think residents on each street should have a say on what they want – or to put it the other way, if the locals start bitching, screaming, and hollering in protest, forget it.

Take a ride on a boat sometime and explore the bayside of our Town. I’m sure you’ll see the ugly parts as being rather obvious.

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