Park named after SPI pioneer: Tompkins family in attendance

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Carolyn Tomkins-Young and her husband Lawrence believe they are possibly the only people who have driven the entire shoreline of Padre Island from Corpus Christi to Port Isabel.

Since that time, the Port Mansfield channel has been dredged.

It’s no longer possible to drive the length of the Island.

But, that’s not her only claim to fame.

Carolyn’s name is also among the street names that intersect with Padre Boulevard.

That’s because she is the daughter of the Island’s pioneering developer, John L. Tompkins.

She was back on the beach to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the city’s newest park named after her father, John L. Tompkins.

Tompkins had the vision in the 1950s and 60s to make the Island available for public use.

“My father wanted everyone to have access to the beach,” Carolyn said. “He really was a developer and he had a vision.”

On Wednesday, many gathered in the morning for the park’s ribbon cutting and to remember the patriarch of the Island who worked tirelessly to develop the Island into a tourist destination.

“John L. Tompkins is the guy that called this Padre Island and started this community a long time ago,” said Barry Patel, SPI mayor. “It’s exciting to have the Tompkins family here today to cut the ribbon.”

Patel said John L. would be very proud if he were here today to know we named a park after him.

“Literally, thousands of kids will enjoy the park,” Patel said. “They may never know who John L. was but somebody up there is smiling at the kids who are having a great time enjoying the park.”

The John L. Tompkins Park is located at 6100 Padre Boulevard.

The park is fitted with playscapes, basketball courts and a soccer field.

It will also have a walking lane and a skate park.

The park is now entering phase two of construction.

The second part of the development will include the walking lane, skate park, shading canopies and a statue of John Tompkins.

The city will apply for another grant of $500,000 to help pay to complete the park.

The South Padre Economic Development Corporation invested $100,000 to help build the skate park.

Funding assistance came from the state sales tax on sporting goods through the Local Park Grant program administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The total cost for the project is $703,433.

“When this park is done, I think it will be something for everybody on South Padre Island to enjoy,” said Ron Pitcock, SPI EDC secretary/treasurer. “There are a lot of exciting things happening on the Island and this is just one of them.”