Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Action
Special Appropriation Indoor Recreation Grant Funding
August 2006

I. Executive Summary: A Special Appropriation grant in the amount of $1,000,000 is to be made to the City of South Padre Island for development of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. This expenditure is required by Rider 30 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department General Appropriations Act of the 79th Legislature.

II. Discussion: The Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program (TRPA) was authorized in 1993 to assist local political subdivisions of the state in providing basic public recreation facilities. TRPA revenue is generated from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods. The Fiscal Year 2006-2007 Appropriation Act approved for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department contains an appropriation rider that reads as follows:

"South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. From funds appropriated above (Texas Recreation and Parks Account), the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shall allocate up to $1,000,000 of matching funds for the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center construction."

The city has submitted the required application materials to receive consideration to receive this appropriation. They are proposing the construction of a 4,500 square foot building on a 7.5-acre site that would serve as an interpretive center and nature education facility, comprising a part of the South Padre Island site of the World Birding Center. The facility will connect with the existing Laguna Madre Nature Trail increasing the boardwalks by approximately 3,600 linear feet and adding five bird blinds. There is 4,500 square feet of exhibit space planned to include exhibits such as a wave tank, a bay aquarium, a stratified cross section of the island, the history of South Padre Island, a Gulf of Mexico exhibit, and interactive migrating turtle and bird exhibits. The exhibits will feature the geology, anthropology, and natural history of the area as well as the many marine, terrestrial, and avian wildlife found on South Padre Island and its environs. The wildlife observation tower will provide 360-degree views from 60 feet up, and the facility by way of the boardwalks will provide access to the wetlands and shoreline for viewing the unique wildlife. The total estimated cost of the facility with associated parking is $6,000,000.

Funds available include $1,000,000 from Fiscal Year 2006-2007 Texas Recreation and Parks Account appropriations.

III. Recommendation: Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"Funding for the City of South Padre Island for development of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center in the amount of $1,000,000 is approved."


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