Port Aransas Museum: A jewel in our crown
Perhaps not so much by design, and maybe not even because of that first visioning process, but Port Aransas is becoming just that.
One of the delightful aspects of that evolution is that the center of the walking area is Old Town - the area of town that is the focus of preservation efforts.
Serving as a "town square" of sorts is the Port Aransas Museum, which shares a city block with the Community Center that is undergoing a transformation itself.
I'll admit I was skeptical of how those two buildings would look together. I feared the Mercer house (which houses the museum) would dominate, and the then-nondescript Community Center would wilt in its shadow.
However, the architectural enhancements to the Community Center, the spiffing up of the Mercer house and the landscaping, complete with gas lamps, have transformed that block into a warm, welcoming center of activity. If the Community Center was booked before the renovation, I can just imagine what the bookings will be like now.
The buildings are central to a charming mix of restaurants, retail and public spaces along Alister Street from the waterfront to Avenue A, and along Beach Street.
Foot traffic in that area has been on the increase in recent years. Pedestrians were all over the place last January for the Dine Around and in October for the Port A Art About art walk. With our new "town square," I predict a significant increase in foot traffic.
That cries out for a sidewalk if not on both sides of Beach Street, at least on one.
Beach Street is scheduled to be rebuilt, and will include a hike-and-bike trail that will, I assume, also serve as a sidewalk of sorts. Construction on that is expected to start this winter.
Meanwhile, the individuals who are trustees of the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association (PAPHA), who have raised the majority of funds for the moving and renovation of the Mercer house, deserve a deep bow and much appreciation. PAPHA members also deserve appreciation for the work they have put into the museum. It is a treasure!
The members of the Port Aransas Garden Club, whose hard work and hard-earned money have transformed the grounds into a thing of beauty, are also due commendation. Not only have the members toiled to install the new landscaping, they are going to work with the city to maintain the grounds.
In addition, many volunteers who are not members of either the garden club or preservation association have contributed in terms of time, talent or financial assistance, and for all of them, we express our sincere appreciation.
Bottom line: Port Aransas has added another jewel to its crown -- the Port Aransas Museum - and it is dazzling!