Port Mansfield pier to possibly reopen

PORT MANSFIELD — One of Willacy County’s most popular fishing piers may reopen soon.

Last month, a storm damaged the old pier at Fred Stone Park, where local anglers have boasted some of the best redfish, flounder and trout fishing on the Texas coast.

So officials closed the pier that for decades has helped draw crowds to the park on weekends.

Thursday, county commissioners will consider repairing the old pier.

The storm broke the pier’s frame, Amos Prado, the county’s code enforcement officer, said yesterday.

“It broke it up pretty good,” Prado said. “The boards came up. It’s a safety hazard.”

John Sterling, vice president of the Port Mansfield Chamber of Commerce, said anglers are driving south to the county’s new $1.8 million park that features a 500-foot fishing pier at the Laguna Point Recreation Area.

“Everybody’s going down there now,” Sterling said. “It’s pretty full, even during weekdays.”

While they figure out what to do with the old pier, county officials are planning a bigger project at Fred Stone Park.

For years, the park’s fishing pier and restrooms have fallen into disrepair.

The South Texas sun and the Laguna Madre’s hyper-saline waters have frayed some of its old planks.

So last month, county commissioners applied for a $686,610 grant under the Restore Act to try to revive the park.

The Restore Act was funded through penalties paid by oil companies found responsible for the April 2010 wellhead explosion off the Louisiana coast that led to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

The county plans to build a 630-foot fishing pier, restrooms and a parking lot at the park on the northern edge of the fishing village.

Officials plan to use non-degradable material to build the park’s proposed pier, said Oralia Cardenas, a grant writer with GrantWorks in Austin.

Sterling said the improvements would draw more anglers to the park that has long been a favorite family picnic spot.

County spokeswoman Sally Velasquez said she did not have information on the date officials will announce whether the county won the grant, referring the question to Cardenas, who could not be reached for comment late Monday afternoon.