Oct 22, 2013 6:09 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - The Texas General Land Office on Monday agreed to keep the stops on a deal to sell about 3,600 acres of beach and wetlands on Upper Padre Island while local leaders figure out how it may affect beachgoers and tourism.
KRIS-6 first broke the sale last week, and the news caught off-guard both state and local officials who had no idea the state was considering the sale.
But today during a conference call hosted by state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, officials from the General Land Office said they're glad to hear of the local interest in the beach and are willing to give things a little more time.
As we reported last week, the deal calls for the Land Office, which maintains the Kleberg County land as part of the Texas Permanent School Fund, to give it to the Nature Conservancy, a global leader in natural preservation and conservation. The Conservancy, in turn, will reimburse the state for the value of the property and then, give it to the Padre Island National Seashore.
But Kleberg County officials on Monday said they are angered and offended that the state forced them to learn about the deal through local news reports rather than telling them through official channels.
"I have not received anything from the state and I think it is unprofessional of them not to notify the county government, " said Kleberg Precinct 4 Commissioner Romeo Lomas. "(They should) at least let us know what they're trying to do."
State officials have said putting the beach, whose northern boundary is less than a half-mile from Bob Hall Pier and whose southern boundary borders the Seashore, is environmentally diverse and valuable and should be protected.
But Corpus Christi City Councilwoman Colleen McIntyre said the primary concern right now is for taxpaying beachgoers who already face traffic snarls.
"We have huge traffic issues ... and we need that extra five miles of beach," she said on Tuesday. "Taking that away would be devastating for the island."
Rep. Hunter, together with state Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, will travel next week to meet with General Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
We will continue following this story as it develops. Look for updates on Twitter @KRIS6News.