160805-isla_blanca_2 160805-isla_blanca_1 160805-isla_blanca_3 vega_joe_e

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, RGV – What about an amphitheater on South Padre Island so that islanders and tourists can watch SpaceX rockets being launched?

Cameron County is in process of upgrading and making renovations to South Padre Island – one of which includes an amphitheater.

Joe Vega, parks director of Cameron County, says his department is looking into making upgrades and improvements to county coastal parks located on South Padre Island.

Back in Jan. 2015,  a master plan was created to renovate Isla Blanca park, Andy Bowie park and Edwin King (E.K.) Atwood park.

“We’re hoping to start work at E.K. Atwood Park possibly by late August [or] early September,” Vega said. “That’s our goal–to start and hopefully finish before Memorial Day, [May 29, 2017]. For Isla Blanca and Andy Bowie park, we’re hopefully going to start between the next six to eight months.”

A total of $30 million will be used to improve the parks. Approximately $7 million will improve the RV sites at Isla Blanca park. Some renovations include improving the water, sewer and utility lines. The money will also be used to construct an amphitheater at Isla Blanca park.

“Now with SpaceX around the corner, the amphitheater is going to serve as a place to see the SpaceX launches,” Vega said. “It’s also going to be a place for performing arts [and] musical events.”

The other $23 million will be used to improve their gulf side amenities in all three parks.

These amenities include renovating and rebuilding restrooms, showers, concession stands and public walkways to the beach. The funds will also cover additional parking at both Isla Blanca and Andy Bowie park to make the parks more accessible to beach-goers.

“We’re looking into building a boardwalk that’s going to connect our DJ Lermas Pavilion at Isla Blanca Park to the Sandpiper Pavilion located at Isla Blanca Park,” Vega said. “The boardwalk [can be used] for biking, walking, jogging and we’re proposing to have small little concession areas along the boardwalk.”

Vega said E.K. Atwood park has a pavilion that’s been out-of-service due to structural concerns. The pavilion will be demolished and the park will have five new pavilions–four small ones and one big pavilion. There will be a community rinse station and a dune system to protect the pavilions.

The money used for the renovations come from the beach user fee, which increased from $5 to $10 this past January. Other revenues come from the RV parks and concession areas.

Vega said within the next 18 to 24 months, the county will have majority of the project completed.

“We’re just trying to make our parks a better place for families to enjoy, we’re trying to improve our public beach access for visitors,” Vega said. “So, once we make all these big improvements to the park, I feel it’s going to [bring] more tourism to the island.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Joe E. Vega, parks director for Cameron County. The other images in the slideshow show Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island.