Port Isabel starts work on coastal park

ALANA HERNANDEZ/VALLEY MORNING STAR Port Isabel City officials, along with contractors and family members of Arturo Galvan, held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for the Arturo Galvan Coastal Park.

From its scenic views to its easy access to fishing, the city aims to transform this frequently visited area into its first coastal park.

This week Port Isabel City officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the park, which will be named in honor of the late Arturo Galvan, a former city mayor.

“This park is a continuation of his legacy of service to the City of Port Isabel,” City Manager Jared Hockema said during the ceremony. “It’s a great honor that we’re here today with many members of the Galvan family to name this park, which will be a permanent symbol of Mr. Galvan’s service to the city.”

According to Hockema, construction of the $2 million park is entering its second phase of the project and is estimated to be completed within seven to eight months.

The coastal park will include a lighted parking lot, walking trail, bird-watching blinds, restrooms, a playground, volleyball court and native landscaping.

According to Hockema, either in 2013 or 2014, the city received “some funds” from the General Land Office to restore the area, which was once covered with rubble.

Additionally, he said the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation and the Parks and Wildlife Department each gave the city $500,000 for the project.

Hockema said one of the aims city officials have is to create a park that’s accessible to the public, but won’t look artificial.

“We purposely did not put lighting along the trail to make sure people will be able to see the stars at night and so they can see the view of the bay without any obstructions from lights,” Hockema said during the ceremony. “So, the whole park, even the roofs, have been designed to blend in with the natural environment.”

Hockema describes the park as being a reflection of the coastal city, the focus of its culture and its economy with the natural environment.

“This fits in with the city’s character, its vision and the direction that it’s going,” Hockema said. “So, we’re really proud of this facility.”

According to Hockema, the location of the park is the only coastal public access to the bay in Cameron County and the only public access to the bay in Port Isabel.

“As anyone from this area knows, Port Isabel despite being on the coast, had no public access to the water in the city until the park was built,” Hockema said. “It’s all privately owned except for this park.”

Debbie Camacho, a daughter of Arturo, said she feels proud to see the project coming together.

“My father was always for the good of the people and in the time he was mayor did a lot of good things,” she said while wiping away tears. “I can’t wait to see the park when it’s finished.”