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Concern grows for North Beach Canal project after workshop

Posted at 5:34 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 19:24:45-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Next week, the city council votes on that much anticipated North Beach drainage solution.

That's why Council members and County Commissioners held another joint North Beach workshop Tuesday.

But there was some rough surf after the workshop. City and county leaders came expecting to discuss how to pay for the proposed drainage canal, instead they were hit by a tidal wave of negative news from city staff.

“Unfortunately, this was a waste of time,” said District 1 City Councilman Everett Roy during his comments.

Instead of talking about how to move forward, city staff urged caution, wanting more studies before committing to a canal.

“We spent really no time discussing what it would cost the people,” said Roy after the workshop. “We kept talking about unknowns, so I was a little disappointed.”

Councilman Roy wasn't the only one left with negative waves about the north beach discussion.

“This was supposed to be a workshop,” said developer Jeff Blackard. “They should have been asking questions, like how do we pay for this? Or what are the problems on North Beach with drainage? And talking about solutions.”

Blackard and the North Beach Task Force proposed the canal as the centerpiece of a Riverwalk-style attraction for North Beach. He and other developers are ready to start projects if the council votes for the canal in time for them to take advantage of federal tax incentives.

“We've got to be able to look at our deadline of (December) 10th and know that if we don't get that done at the next council, that we could miss this opportunity, and that's got to be weighed,” said Roy.

City leaders have repeatedly said they won't let that federal deadline affect their decision. That has North Beach residents concerned about the project’s future.

“I'm really frightened that it may not go through based on the comments I heard today,” said resident Debra Pope.

Meanwhile. Roy is concerned about the council's legacy if they don't act.

“We don't want to have a city where people think we were this close to being able to achieve a goal, and we let it slip through our fingers,” said Roy.

Most council members, including Mayor Joe McComb, spoke favorably of the canal project during the workshop.

They are concerned though, at what the final price tag will be, and what that means to taxpayers.

Meanwhile, Blackard says if the city council doesn't move forward next week, he'll pursue another project, somewhere else.