Construction at Isla Blanca near completion

A man looks out into the waves searching for his own area to surf Friday, September 14, 2018, at Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island, Texas. Rougher surf caused by the onshore arrival of a low-pressure system attracted several surfers to the waves. (Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Cameron County is weeks away, weather permitting, from wrapping up construction on two new facilities at Isla Blanca Park.

County Administrator David Garcia said the first phase of improvements to the park, which include an amphitheater and multipurpose building, is at its tail end and nearly 90 percent complete.

The multipurpose building is done, he said, and crews are working on outdoor improvements for concerts and a system that will be used for audio and lighting.

The construction will be finished in roughly eight weeks if the weather doesn’t cause delays, Garcia said.

“There’s just a few loose ends we’re trying to tie up before we have that grand opening,” he said.

Officials from around Cameron County celebrated the $6.2 million project’s groundbreaking in February 2017. The amphitheater will seat 4,000, and the 6,800-square-foot multipurpose building will seat 250.

The second phase of Isla Blanca Park improvements is underway on the gulf-facing side, and Garcia expects that work to be completed during the summer. The $17 million project broke ground in April and involves moving beach pavilions 200 feet inland.

When the overhaul is completed next year, amenities will include new pavilions with a connecting boardwalk, dune walkovers, picnic tables, barbecue areas, 280 additional parking spaces and more. The new design also eliminates vehicle traffic between the parking lot and the beach, which officials said will increase safety.

Cameron County Parks Director Joe Vega said construction of the new Sandpiper Pavilion is about 70 percent complete and is expected to be wrapped up by February. Crews have completed the new parking lot, and will now begin on the concession area and will build the access road connecting it to the DJ Lerma Pavilion.

Vega said he wanted to remind visitors that the park is open for business because the ongoing construction has given some the impression that Isla Blanca Park is closed.

It’s too soon to say whether news coverage and fears over the migration crisis on the southern border is having an impact on Winter Texan reservations at the park, Garcia said.

“We haven’t really been able to tell because most visitors come in late December or January,” he said. “It’s a little too early to tell. For the most part, we’re going to be OK.”