There will be a public meeting at the Rockport Aquarium Education Center on Thursday at 9 a.m. that will go over the plans of the Aransas County Coastal Resiliency Initiative. The initiative is a plan in which the city of Rockport, the Navigation District and an engineering company, Mott Macdonald, have joined forces on to help revamp a few areas of the Rockport area.
These areas include, Little Bay, Cove Harbor, Fulton Beach Road, Lamar Beach Road, and Shell Ridge Road, Bay Shore Drive, Cedar Bayou, and Newcomb’s Point. The purpose of the initiative is to attract public grant funding and coordinate the efforts to restore these coastal priorities for Aransas County.
The initiative will cover three areas, the environment such as conservation and protection of coastal habitats. It will also cover the economic factors of Rockport, like creating jobs and protection of infrastructure. Lastly, it will cover the community, trying to get more involvement from local residents.
KRIS 6 spoke with the Navigation District, the Mayor of Rockport and one of the engineers from Mott Macdonald on two of the biggest projects underway. One of them, is the restoration of Little Bay.
Places like Little Bay offer so much to locals and tourists in Rockport. Mayor of Rockport, Pat Rios says, “water sports, recreation, but the birding, fishing, everything is integral to our economy.”
However, over the years E. coli has been found in the bay, and it seems to gradually get more shallow. Over 5,000 birds nest in Little Bay every year and it’s a host to thousands of tourists. The Navigation District and City of Rockport found that in order to restore it, it needs better circulation in and out of the bay.
“That bottleneck, which is blevins channel, needs to be opened up, and that’s what we’re intending to do… We need to make sure we have the facilities, clean, safe and healthy for them to come and have a good time,” Chairman of the Aransas County Navigation District, Malcolm Dieckow says.
Another big project with the Aransas County Coastal Resiliency Initiative is Cove Harbor, where the famous Boat Barn resides.
“Cove Harbor is a major area within Rockport, as far as industrial, heavy and light industrial goes. So they depend quite a bit, as we mentioned before, ya know little bay more depends on the tourism, cove harbor is industrial,” says engineer, Aaron Horine, from Mott Macdonald. Horine is an engineer working on the initiative and says Cover Harbor will need to have all new barriers around the harbor.
“Rehabilitation of portions that have the bulkhead that is failing or there is no bulk head at all and it’s just being protected with trash, concrete, rubble, that sort of thing.”
As for funding, the estimated cost of the entire initiative is approximately $36 million. The Little Bay project is estimated at $19 million, and Cove Harbor at $14 million. City officials tell KRIS 6 that they are hoping to get funding from FEMA, leaving out the need to use taxpayer money.