CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — At Nueces County Commissioners Court on Wednesday, it was revealed that funds promised to charities, projects and more through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), were done so against regulations.
In addition to the $6.8 million in ARPA funding promised to Nueces County charities, county commissioners approved additional money to go to the new Bob Hall Pier, $2 million to be exact. Commissioners promised the money under the false impression they were given that this money could be used for these things.
“We want to get this money out. We are not trying to take anything away from anybody, we’re trying to work with everybody. But everybody needs to understand we have responsibilities as well and we are required to turn in forms,” Nueces County Judge Connie Scott said.
Commissioners were told by Hagerty Consulting, ARPA money could be used to rebuild Bob Hall Pier.
“I can personally attest to the fact that I was told by Hagerty in a conversation that they felt like the ARPA money could be used, now TAC (Texas Association of Counties) is questioning that,” said Commissioner Brent Chesney.
This week, commissioners court received guidance that using ARPA money for building the pier will not qualify under final ARPA Regulations.
“Literally in a white paper that we got two days ago, we’re all digesting it, so we don’t know for sure, but it has been raised that there is a likelihood that we can’t use that money as well,” said Chesney.
The engineering firm Lockwood Andrews and Newnam Inc. (LAN) are being kept on the project to design the new restaurant and pier.
The Nueces County Board of Coastal Parks and commissioners court agreed to make the restaurant two floors. Chesney said if in fact that $2 million cannot be used, the engineer will need to tighten their plans up.
When asked if the $2 million won't be available, will the structure have to be limited to just one floor, Chesney answered there's another issue. Despite the money, Chesney sayid engineers have now raised the question if a second floor can structurally happen.
“They're not even sure that structure can handle two floors," Chesney said. "It’s not just the second floor, it’s can that structure, existing structure, handle a second floor? Or is it better to make it a bigger first floor?”
LAN are finishing their next plans to take to the board of coastal parks for them to make a recommendation to commissioners.
The cost of the project was originally thought to be about $18 million, but later grew to $26 million.
Chesney stressed that this financial issue will not delay the overall timeline of the project.
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