CORPUS CHRISTI — North Beach's future could be decided within the next two weeks.
On Dec. 10, the city council is expected to vote on the proposed canal project. An informal poll of the council showed a majority supporting the canal if that vote were held today, but will those votes still be there Dec. 10?
With 14 days before the council decides the North Beach canal's fate, the team pushing for the canal is hopeful.
“We're confident that it's going to go somewhere because we believe we have five votes for a canal,” said County Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn of the North Beach Task Force.
Five council members told KRIS 6 News on Tuesday that they would vote for a canal. Two council members weren’t polled, while two said they'd vote against.
“We need to look at all the other infrastructure projects we have, and we need to be mindful of that,” said District 3 City Councilman Roland Barrera, who said he’d vote ‘No’. “We're still not sure what the price tag is.”
Initial estimates put the canal's cost at a little more than $41 million, which is not including the city's estimate of $35 million to raise street elevation. But the city has offered developer Jeff Blackard a deal that if Blackard pays for the canal up front, the city says it will reimburse him.
“The mayor and city manager offered that to them,” said Vaughn. “It will be interesting to see what happens and what the council members think about it.”
District 1 councilman Everett Roy likes the idea, and believes that using a private contractor can keep the project on budget.
“A private contractor can get things done probably a bit more cost-effectively than when it goes through the city's process,” said Roy.
Estimates put the economic impact of a North Beach canal at tens of millions of dollars a year, which is why the task force believes spending the extra dollars makes more sense.
“It's an economic development project, it will bring money back to the city,” said Vaughn. “That's a smart move because you have to spend money to make money.”
The city council and county commissioners have another joint North Beach workshop scheduled for next Tuesday. That workshop is open to the public.