SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Isla Blanca Park visitors will now be able to experience the marvels of newly constructed pavilions — designed for family gatherings and enhanced access to the beach,

Cameron County officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday afternoon in celebration of the completion of improvements to the gulf-side amenities at Isla Blanca.

Improvements include the reconstruction of the park’s Sandpiper Pavilion and the D.J. Lerma Pavilion.

The structures have amenities such as rinse stations, restrooms, concession and barbecue areas, picnic tables and dune walkovers.

Additional features include improvements to gulf-side trails and roads, the development of a lighted beachfront boardwalk with shade structures connecting the two pavilions and parking improvements that include Americans with Disabilities Act accessible parking.

“These improvements not only improve the aesthetics of the park, but also provide economic development opportunities for Cameron County and for South Padre Island,” County Judge Eddie Trevino said during the ceremony.

According to county officials, the pavilions were built 200 feet landward from their original site with a conservation dune system seawards of the pavilion to protect the structures.

Natalie Bell, Beach Access and Dune Protection Program Manager for the Texas General Land Office, described the project as a symbol of Cameron County’s commitment to public beaches and to the people who visit them.

“This represents a significant investment and the enhancement of beach access,” Bell said during the ceremony. “It also represents one of the best examples of coastal resilience and responsible development that I have seen in the state of Texas.”

Cameron County constructed Isla Blanca Park’s conservation dune system and dune mitigation project in conjunction with Texas A&M University-Kingsville, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Cameron County Native Plant Center.

The $17 million project began in 2018 and was completed in phases to accommodate Isla Blanca Park visitors during construction.

Funding was financed through bonds and paid for by beach user fees.

The pavilion improvements are a part of the Coastal Park Master Plan the Cameron County Commissioners Court adopted in 2015, which resulted in other additions and improvements such as a multipurpose building and amphitheater.

According to Trevino, the county has invested more than $30 million in revamping some county coastal parks on the Island and enhancing public beach access.

According to Cameron County officials, Isla Blanca Park draws in more than a million visitors annually.

Trevino said he is excited the gulf-side improvements at Isla Blanca are now completed.

“Isla Blanca Park is one of the most popular coastal parks, not only on South Padre Island, but throughout the Gulf Coast,” he said during the ceremony. “For many years, this park provided a place for families to gather and enjoy this beautiful beach by the Gulf of Mexico.”

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ISLA BLANCA PARK RENOVATIONS

• Reconstruction of the Sandpiper Pavilion and the D.J. Lerma Pavilion.

• The pavilions have picnic tables, rinse stations, restrooms, concession areas, barbecue areas and dune walkovers.

• The development of a lighted beachfront boardwalk with shade structures connecting the two pavilions.

• Parking improvements that include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible parking.

• Improvements to Gulfside trails and roads.