In August 2014, the City of South Padre Island applied for an outdoor recreational grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to fund the development of a new city park that will be located on the southeast corner of Sunset Drive and Gulf Boulevard in the lot located next to Travelodge. The SPI Parks, Recreation and Beatification Committee was given an update on the progress of the grant application at their meeting last Thursday morning.
Dr. Sungman Kim, Director of Development Services for the city, gave a presentation on the details of the SPI City Park Grant. The City Council previously passed a resolution authorizing the submission of an application for the grant in question to meet the August 2014 deadline. The potential grant is an Outdoor Recreation Center that supports the acquisition or development of public recreation areas and facilities to local governments with populations less than 500,000. If acquired, the grant would require a 50-50 matching amount from the city with a maximum of $400,000 with the remaining half provided by the TPWD’s Recreation Grant Branch. The property value is currently at $1.8 million, $600,000 of which meets the criteria used to determine which land can be applied towards the required matching amount. The grant will cover half of all actual expenditures.
The proposed project will be scored by the TPWD using the Project Priority Scoring System during a five month review process. The Recreation Grant staff will perform technical review which will be followed by a review from agency resource staff. Recreation Grant staff will also coordinate a review with the Texas Historical Commission (THC). When all reviews are complete, the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Commission who has the sole authority to award grants. Results will be announced at the end of January 2015, and if granted, the city will have three years to complete the project. City staff foresees a positive outcome with a minimum of 90 points received and up to 100 received by the TPWD. According to Dr. Kim, SPI is likely in good standing as the TPWD said that applicants who score below 90 points generally would not receive a grant. Some criteria for points are based on population, geographic distribution, innovative use, special populations, environmentally responsible activities and more. Dr. Kim also said that the project met the criteria to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and will have accessibility for those with disabilities.
City staff foresees a long term process with potentially three phases of development for the park; $250,000 has already been reserved in immediately available funds for the property development, and the city is prepared to move forward quickly after results are decided in January.

Abbey Kunkle