County works to protect dunes

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Cameron County Beach Access No. 4 on South Padre Island is about to undergo a major change as officials plan to build a dune walkover at the location.

The goal of the project is to protect sand dunes and vegetation around the area and give the public easier access to the beach, said Joe Vega, county parks and recreation director. The new dune walkover will be wheelchair accessible.

Right now, “you have to walk over a dune to get to the beach. We wanted to make this access better accessible to our beach visitors and make the boardwalk wheelchair accessible as well,” Vega said.

Similar accesses are available at Isla Blanca Park and county beach access No. 3, Vega said. Construction on the dune walkover at beach access No. 4 should be completed by the first week in August.

The project cost is $160,000, with $96,000 coming from a grant from the Texas General Land Office Coastal Management Program Cycle 19. The remaining $64,000 will be paid by the county.

“This is part of our improvement plans with the county’s park and recreation that I implemented. We are just trying to improve beach access to our beach visitors,” Vega said.

Vega said the construction equipment already is in place and that the work should begin soon. Orders to the contractors already have been given.

County Judge Pete Sepulveda Jr. said he recently was on South Padre Island with Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who is committed to the project.

“I know he is committed to this project and to continuing the great partnership between the Texas General Land Office and Cameron County on many other issues we are working on along the coast,” Sepulveda said a press release. “We will continue to work together to improve our facilities, to enhance our landscape, and to provide amenities the public can utilize and easily access for years to come.”

Vega said officials are looking for additional grant money that will allow them to make other improvements at beach access No. 4 — in the future — that would include the construction of restrooms and showers at the location and improve the parking area as well.

Vega said visitors to beach access No. 4 still will be able to gain access to the beach even though there will be construction in the area.

County Precinct 1 Commissioner Sofia Benavides said the project will provide economic development opportunities for the county by attracting more visitors to the area.

“Most importantly it will help preserve and protect the dune system by reducing impacts to the dunes and vegetation,” Benavides said in a press release.