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Isla Blanca Residents’ Stay Uncertain During Park Renovations

3 years 5 months 3 weeks ago Friday, June 02 2017 Jun 2, 2017 June 02, 2017 9:12 PM June 02, 2017 in News

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Isla Blanca Park will soon undergo major renovations totaling about $20 million. That means some people who rent RV spaces won't get to reserve their usual spot as they have been doing for decades.

Some people told CHANNEL 5 NEWS they stay at Isla Blanca for part of the year. Others said they stay almost year-round.

Telesforo Atkinson has been at the same spot for 37 years. He built his own garden with palm trees, flowers, and even a sprinkler system. He's upset he can't reserve the spot he calls his second home for the upcoming season.

"It's a community here," Atkinson said. "We're all family. We are seven or eight families that are kinfolk here. People from up north come that we associate with, that we fish together with - it's our community."

Atkinson said this could be the last year he gets to enjoy his stay. Many residents received a notice at check-in the first of the month.

It notified them of renovations that will be happening at the park, including electrical upgrades and a new campground design.

The notice reads in part:

"Because of this, and the yet to be determined construction schedule, effective immediately, we will not be taking reservations for next season."

Cameron County Parks Director Joe Vega signed the notice. He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS Friday that he understands long-time residents' sentiments, but adds it's something that must be done for the betterment of the entire park.

"We're going to look into doing a boardwalk that connects from one pavilion to the other pavilion," Vega said. "The other proposed improvements (are) to build new restrooms (and) a new amphitheater with a multi-purpose building. We are also looking into building a new lifeguard station."

Vega said $20 million worth of improvements means a lot of construction will be taking place. That's why he can't promise RV residents a place to stay.

"This will allow us to build - to have all the sites nice and uniform, and not only that, we’re going to be doing some nice landscaping in the park," Vega said. "We want to make this park look very nice, not only for our current RV guests to enjoy but for future generations to enjoy as well."

For now, Atkinson said he'll enjoy every moment he has left in his paradise by the sea. He said park officials told him no one is guaranteed a spot at the park past this summer.

Vega said they still don't know what part of the park will be worked on first.

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