Harbor Island near Port Aransas is more than just prime real estate; it may soon be packed real estate.
Crews are already working on Harbor Island, clearing what will eventually be a crude oil export terminal. But not everyone is happy.
“We’re just attacking a community, attacking a state treasure, and really, a nationwide destination,” said Port Aransas resident John Morris.
On Thursday, the Port of Corpus Christi Commission approved a 50 year lease with Lone Star Terminals, L.L.C. and The Carlyle Group to run the terminal. Once built, that terminal will cover much of Harbor Island. It will also change the view from nearby Roberts Point Park. Opponents fear that will be the beginning of the end for tourism in Port A.
“There’s so small amount of areas that haven’t been industrialized on the whole Texas coast,” said Morris. “We’re going to take one of the premier ones, and we’re going to industrialize it.”
However, those behind the project say there’s a lot of misinformation fueling the opposition.
“I have seen renderings on Harbor Island that indicate that there will be 40-60 tanks,” said Ferris Hussein. Managing Director of the Carlyle Group. “We will minimize the number of tanks on Harbor Island to no more than 10.”
Several Port Aransas residents joined Morris in voicing their concerns Thursday. They left the special Port Commission meeting disappointed, feeling as if commissioners disregarded their concerns. Commissioners say they’ve kept the community in mind throughout the process.
“We care about the citizens of Port Aransas, and we’re going to do what’s right to make sure this export terminal is done in the highest professional manner,” said Port Commissioner Charles Zahn, a Port Aransas resident himself.
The opposition promises to keep fighting the terminal project in court. Former Port Commissioner Kenneth Berry filed a petition in the 13th Court of Appeals to block the lease. The Port won that case, and officials are confident going forward as they believe the law is on their side.
“We have a statutory mandate to develop our properties to facilitate maritime commerce,” said Sean Strawbridge, CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi. “We also have a commitment to the community that we’re going to do that in a responsible manner.”
Once finished, the Harbor Island terminal will be able to load very large crude carriers, also known as VLCCs, huge super tankers, capable of carrying as much as 2,000,000 barrels of oil.