New ramps at Thomae Park nearly ready for boaters

HARLINGEN — A new two-ramp boat launch at Adolph Thomae Jr. Park and additional trailer parking is mostly finished with just a few late tasks yet to be completed.

County officials say $844,000 worth of improvements at the third-busiest county park on the banks of the Arroyo Colorado should be finished by Oct. 27, when a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held.

“The Adolph Thomae Jr. Park boat ramp facility is known to be one of the busiest boat ramps in the Laguna Madre area,” County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. said in a statement.

“This new boat ramp will make it easier for anglers to launch their boats and reduce the traffic bottlenecks experienced during the busiest times of the year at the park.”

The Thomae Park boat launch is the busiest in the lower Laguna Madre, with the park serving 300,000 people annually. It sits at the mouth of the Arroyo Colorado where it flows into the Laguna Madre, an area with a worldwide reputation for producing trophy redfish and trout.

Some weekends the boat launch is so busy that boat trailers are stacked up on the sides of the access road for hundreds of yards, and entry to the park to vehicles towing boats sometimes is suspended until boats pull out.

The new parking lot adds 42 new spots for vehicles with boat trailers.

“This new facility will promote recreational opportunities and will provide environmental benefits as well,” County Commissioner David A. Garza said. “The parking lot’s unique construction will reduce storm water run-off by allowing rain water to filtrate through the pavement and subsoil beneath, resulting in much cleaner run-off water making its way back into our waterways and groundwater, thus protecting the environment.”

The bulk of the funding for the project came from a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grant of $500,000. In addition, a $90,000 grant was obtained from the Cameron County Coastal Impact Assistance Program. The county’s share was $254,000.

County Parks Director Joe E. Vega said the county appreciated the grant monies which went toward the Thomae Park improvements.

“Our goal is to continue making the necessary improvements to Adolph Thomae Jr. park in order to make the park a safer and enjoyable place for our Cameron County residents and visitors,” Vega said.

As of yesterday, water lines to the new fish-cleaning stations and parking lot lighting had yet to be installed.

Vega said the county has submitted a grant application to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department which, if approved, would provide funding for new restrooms and lighting.

The county has also submitted a grant application to the General Land Office CEPRA Grant Program for continued work on shoreline stabilization in the park — a never-ending issue — to help protect against shoreline erosion.

Recent Thomae Park improvements

New two-ramp boat launch

Two new fish-cleaning stations

42 new parking spaces for vehicles with trailers

Shoreline stabilization work

ADA-accessible children’s playground

Two ADA-accessible public fishing piers