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County moving forward with Caldwell Pier observation deck

Posted at 4:42 PM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 19:39:18-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A proposed observation deck for Horace Caldwell Pier is moving forward after County Commissioners voted to re-hire the pier's original designer to design the new addition.

This is all part of a deal between the county and federal government to make good on a grant for a similar deck at Bob Hall Pier. The plans were approved by commissioners in July and Wednesday’s voted simply moved the project to the design phase.

After years of planning, a new and improved Horace Caldwell Pier is closer to reality.

“This is a project that's been on our list, we just didn't have funding available,” said Precinct 4 County Commissioner Brent Chesney.

The county is putting an observation deck on Horace Caldwell Pier after a deal with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. That deal keeps Mikel Mays open at Bob Hall Pier.

Nearly a decade ago, the county spent a nearly $750,000 federal grant for an observation deck on what became the restaurant. Federal officials said that's not the money was intended for and wanted to county to pay the grant back or shut down Mikel Mays.

“This was our proposal, the county's proposal to U.S. Fish & Wildlife so we could keep Mikel Mays where it is,” said Chesney.

As part of the agreement, County Judge Barbara Canales and Chesney each pledged $300,000 from their precinct funds while the Port of Corpus Christi chipped in another $250,000. That money will pay for the observation deck and satisfy the feds.

“It's just a kind of elegant solution for a tough problem, as the Judge has said before,” said Chesney.

The county plans to build a state-of-the-art observation deck at Horace Caldwell Pier with plenty of interactive and educational features.

“I think it's going to be a phenomenal addition to Port Aransas,” said Chesney. “A great thing for visitors to come and enjoy, for locals to come and enjoy, for school children to come and enjoy.”

Part of today's vote was hiring Hanson Professional Services to design the expansion. Chesney says the county should have plans ready to submit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife by January. Once Fish & Wildlife approves the plans, the county will apply for a permit with the state's General Land Office.

At this point, there's no official timetable for the project.