Citizen consensus critical to 67 acres
BY PHIL REYNOLDS SOUTH JETTY REPORTER
After only one meeting, consultant Bob Stluka of Strategic Partnerships and city council members already agree on one thing: No matter how the city's 67-acre tract of land at the end of Port Street is developed, it's going to be critical to have a citizen consensus.
Stluka told the council at a workshop on Thursday, Sept. 20, that it appeared whatever else happened with the property, the city obviously wanted a marina there.
The first step toward making a marina work, he said, was deciding what impact a marina would have, and on whom.
The second step, he said, was consent building - identifying all the stakeholders and involving them in the decision-making process.
"The consent building is a very important part," Stluka said. "The Achilles heel (of many projects) often is that there's not a consensus building process in place."
Among the stakeholder groups he said need to be identified:
However, he cautioned council members that some kind of rough plan is needed before the question goes out to residents.
"You need to get to that point before you start bringing in stakeholders, because if you don't have a general sense of what might work as a marina, you're going to be going off in 100 different directions," he warned. "As stakeholders make comments, they will have something to look at and comment on."
"When we did Roberts Point Park, we actually started from ground zero consensus critical asking what citizens want," said Councilman Mike Hall. "Would there need to be an initial meeting to get to that point?" critical to 67 "I see this differently, up to this point, because you the council have determined if anything is going to happen there, it's going to be a marina 67 acres - not a playground with a pool or other amenities," Stluka said. "I think all the things that would naturally come with a marina would be a part of the initial plan, but you have to have a general concept first."
Resident Eliza Large wanted answers to two questions right away.
"We're going to have a plan and invite bids on it, right?" she asked Mayor Claude Brown.
"That's a long way away," Brown said.
"But it's going to be a city operated marina," Large pressed.
"That's one of the things up for discussion," Brown told her.
"I think one of the things we need to do is make sure the citizens' desires are addressed," Hall said. "We're not marina designers, but there are a lot of do's and don't's out there, and I think as long as we follow those parameters, we're OK."
"We know the current (city) marina is congested; locals have no way to get their boats in the water," Port Aransan Randy Ricks said. "I also know the (Texas Department of Transportation) ferry has options for expanding on both sides of the current location, so moving ferries to new location probably wouldn't be something to look at. The new marina ramps would have to be open to the public at no charge."
"The marina is enough for once. We don't need to think about moving the ferry landing also," said Councilman Charles Bujan.
"It's not a question of moving the ferry landing," Councilman Bubba Jensen said, "it's a matter of looking and seeing if we can designate a possible future location for a ferry landing. For all we know, any future ferry landing could be in the city of Corpus Christi."
"I think we can discuss, but I don't want vehicles going across the nature preserve and building roads across there," said Bujan. "Let's not tie it to the marina project."
"When talking about a city project, I'd see one similar to the one we have - a public marina with slips that can be rented by people who live here and visitors," said Jim Urban.
Urban, who usually speaks to the council as the city engineer, said he was appearing not as a city employee but as a private citizen.
"The one thing we don't have, but we can accomplish because of private ownership on one side, is facilities for bait and places for people to go," Urban said. "The city marina is being closed in because of the economic benefit of building high rise residences. I'd hope the city would have the foresight to set aside land where bait houses and places can be built so it looks like a marina and has the facilities a marina needs. It's an expensive prospect but we're a prosperous city and I think we can do it."
Brown asked for a show of hands in the audience of people who favored a marina; virtually every hand went up.
Stluka said with more workshops, he would expect the council to have a proposal ready in about six months. No date was set Thursday for a future workshop.