Beachgoers using Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island are in for a surprise if they have not gotten the shock already. The rusty-looking facility most people have been going to over the years is becoming one of the most modern beach parks now rivaling similar venues found in Florida and California.
Gone are the wooden pavilions, messy restroom and shower areas, and the dark net over the picnic sections. Replacing all of it is new construction. Blue and white are the colors of the park that is under construction by Texas Noble Builders, a Rio Grande Valley-based company headquarters in La Feria.
Sofia Benavides, commissioner with Cameron County Precinct 2, describes the Isla Blanca Park changes as long overdue.
“We are investing a lot of money,” she said, “and there still is more to come.”
She said about $30 million is solely for all the park improvement projects. That includes two new pavilions, a boardwalk, more parking, swinging barbecue grills, an amphitheater and the Cameron County Events Center. The Sandpiper Pavilion is complete, while the DJ Lerma Pavilion is set to be done by this month or next.
Although building the amphitheater and events center was nearly complete, additional seating and parking space were already a must. Benavides said that is not all. The park administrative offices will relocate and there will be an elimination of the parking spaces by the boat ramp.
“We are trying to bring entertainers to the events center,” she said, “and for that, we need more parking.” The commissioner said everything done at the park is for the public’s benefit and for the county as well. “I think this project is wonderful. We should start getting some revenues soon.”
The park improvements have been catching people off guard and some of them have been expressing disbelief for what they see now.
“Woah!’” said Larry Bailey of Round Rock on recent day. “This is pretty cool.”
He said he and his wife have been using the park for many years. They couldn’t believe their eyes after arriving at the park this year.
“I even told her we should have our next family reunion here,” Bailey said. “This is fantastic.”
Mission residents Pedro Martinez and his wife Alicia felt surprise in seeing the park improvements. In fact, as soon as they got there, Alicia began calling her friends to let them know about the changes. The park also left a good impression on Luis Gonzalez of El Paso.
“We have not been here since last year,” he said. ”All of these things were not here. This park used to look kind of old — not anymore.”