The South Padre Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) met Tuesday morning for their regular monthly meeting. The board stepped out of their box, discussing and approving ideas that ventured into the unknown territory based on their historical undertakings.
On the agenda for the meeting was the potential approval of a $5,000 grant request made by Art Space. The idea had been discussed at the previous meeting but had been tabled pending a performance agreement. Art Space requested a grant from the EDC to fund their first paid position, which would help to ensure steady hours of operation. They have always been run by volunteers, resulting In sporadic hours for potential members and customers. The grant in question would be the first of its kind and some members of the EDC were surprised by the request and hesitant to approve based on the fact that they had not yet stepped into the territory of grant funding. After some discussion at the last meeting, they took an interest in the idea as it does to contribute to economic development, but they wanted a specific performance agreement that detailed terms of repayment if it was not fulfilled. The board stepped out of their box and approved the request, reiterating that this would be a one-time grant for Art Space and that they should focus on strategies for the sustainability of the position of the future.
Another unique request came from City Manager Bill DiLibero, who sought funding for the Tuba Concert at the Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 10. The Parks, Recreation, and Beautification Committee promised $500 from their budget to support the event, and DiLibero was seeking $1,500 more to cover the remainder of the cost. The EDC has never funded an event, and board members were concerned that although they are permitted by law, opening up to event funding would cross into new territory that is not part of the budget. They recommended that DiLibero propose the idea to the Convention and Visitors Bureau; however, DiLibero stated that their budget will not currently support the additional cost. Others recommended that DiLibero seek money from donations from private sources. Lynne Tate, President of the Birding and Nature Center, was in attendance and rallied for the project, saying, “This town wants to support things like that,” Her comments backing the event encouraged many board members to offer individual support from personal and business avenues. Ultimately, they felt that it was a worthy cause and raised a majority of the remaining cost right then and there.
Tate and Director Cristin Howard of the Birding and Nature Center were on the agenda to update the board on activities as well as on the financial status of the Center. Howard was excited to share with the board that Oct. 21 marked the one year anniversary of her employment. In the past year, they have made significant strides in finances and activity. In December, the Birding and Nature center will host a variety of events such as movies, presentations, and guided nature walks as well as a photo op with Santa and pets on Dec. 6. The Zodiac Sculptures have also been placed on the grounds for the enjoyment of the community.
The Board discussed concerns over specifics in the Draft Lease and Operations Agreement between the EDC and the Birding and Nature Center. They will be reviewing the contract with input from the Birding and Nature Center board as well as the City Council. They resolved that the City Manager DiLibero should first review the document, incorporating changes that were discussed, and then forward that to City Attorney Paul Cunningham for further revision.
And of course, SpaceX is tending to be a topic at every city meeting these days. The possibilities are endless for the collaborations and cooperatives that will prove to be invaluable to the Island’s future economy. EDC Director Dalra Lapeyre will be in contact with her counterpart Lizzy de la Gaza of the Brownsville EDC to discuss ideas for future cooperatives. Point Isabel ISD is also an important financial player in efforts with SpaceX. With so many boards and individuals bringing up positive suggestions in regards to SPaceXm board member Joanne Williams asked, “Who is really the voice of the Island with SpaceX?’ It was decided that the city manager should have the major role in collaborations and that the EDC should be the vehicle to support him in the matter.
With five of the board members terms ending on Dec. 31, there will be vacancies on th board in the upcoming year. Two will be appointed by the EDC and three will be appointed by City Council. Any interested parties should apply.
Abbey Kunkle