Funds approved for artificial reef, turtle trail

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — A few plans for funding have been made for some projects in this seaside city.

The South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Advisory Board discussed and took action on a few items during a meeting held Jan. 21.

Board members approved allocating $50,000 for Friends of RGV Reef in the department’s budget for this fiscal year.

For the past several years, the Friends of RGV Reef artificial reefing project has been creating habitat northeast of the Island jetties to provide shelter and aid to fish populations along their lifecycle.

During the meeting, SPI Convention and Visitors Advisory board chair Daniel Salazar noted that the board understands how providing funding for Friends of RGV Reef is beneficial to the Island economy.

“We’re very much for the project,” said Tom Goodman, the board’s vice chairman. “We always have been.”

Sea Turtle Art Trail

Convention and Visitors Advisory Board members approved a $25,000 funding request for the Sea Turtle Art Trail project.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Ed Caum announced the establishment of the project in May 2019 during a City Council meeting.

The idea is to collaborate with local businesses and artists to design permanent sea turtle sculptures.

During the meeting, Caum said the project has seven sea turtle sculptures so far.

The overall goal is to partner with businesses for initial cost.

“They performed very well and because of that, we’re now having other businesses or patrons, if you will, come to us and ask for turtles,” Caum said to the board. “We have it built in so whoever adopts the turtle is in charge so we’re just doing basically the incentive of creating this trail and as more patrons step up it’s supposed to be a 50/50 split.”

During the meeting board members approved Sea Turtle Task Force members’ request for the extension of another five sculptures for the project.

According to CVB Marketing Research and Analytics Director Mike Flores, $25,000 was budgeted last fiscal year and $17,000 was spent.

“We think it’s a very successful project so far,” Flores said during the meeting. “They’re going to be installed in conjunction with the nesting season coming up in just a few months.”

A meet and greet was held in November 2019 to introduce the artists’ miniature versions of their sea turtle sculptures for the project.

The six selected artists include Andy Hancock, Ariel Powell King, Beth Fedigan, Cecilia Garza, Chelsea Fedigan and Christina Salazar.

The artists are now designing five-foot-tall blank sea turtle sculptures.

Each turtle will have their own name, persona and location on the Island.