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Steps taken to Padre Balli Park dispute resolution

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Posted at 5:06 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 18:06:02-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A dispute that began earlier this year regarding the use of land at Padre Balli Park may be moving toward resolution.

KRIS 6 Investigates has exclusively obtained a memorandum detailing settlement discussions between the attorney hired to represent Nueces County, Ernest Wotring, and the counsel for the Jones Family, Patrick Reznik.

Reznik sent a cease-and-desist letter to the county in February, accusing it of violating the terms agreed upon when it was gifted nearly 400 acres of land by the Jones Family in 1949. That gift created Padre Balli Park.

The family claimed overnight campers were staying too long, and a private developer had been given access to 15 acres of wetlands through a deed restriction.

A memo, dated May 16, outlines a conversation between the attorneys.

Wotring said Reznik pressed the issue of limiting the time overnight campers are allowed in the park continuously.

"I reminded him that the County had already agreed to return to the two-week overnight camping policy that had been in effect for several years prior to the Jones family's February 2022 letter," he states. "He told me that the Nueces County attorney had previously issued a written opinion that said that four days and three nights would meet the Balli Park's restriction on extended camping."

Also at issue is a deed restriction issued to help a private developer satisfy wetland mitigation requirements needed for a permit with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

"He (Reznik) then asked me if Nueces County could make the Deed Restriction just 'go away,' " Wotring writes.

That document was signed by County Judge Barbara Canales in October 2020. The commissioner's court did not vote on that deed restriction.

In a previous statement from the USACE, if the deed restriction were removed and the wetlands no longer available to the developer for mitigation, "the permittee would be required to request a modification to their permit."

"Mr. Reznik said that if the County and Jones family could work through these two issues the Jones family was still interested in issuing a joint statement with the County that would be a 'win-win" for both sides and that the Jones family did not want their dispute with the County to be 'played out in public,'" according to the memo.

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