SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — The steady hum of an operating black-and-white tower crane situated on the sand could be heard along with the crashing sounds of the ocean’s waves.
Nearby, a few couples of beachgoers on the northern side of the Island sat at the deck of Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill and watched the machine as it placed tall wooden poles into the sand under the water.
Construction is underway for Clayton Brashear’s 1,000-foot-long fishing pier.
Brashear said the pier will be handicap accessible and will have restrooms, a concession area and a bait shop.
“It’ll be a place where you can sit and grab a hamburger while getting a view of the ocean,” Brashear said. “It’s just all around something fun for people, and I think it’ll be a great tourist attraction to South Padre Island.”
Brashear said he plans to charge $10 a pole and walking on the pier will be free.
According to Brashear, he leases the land under the ocean from the Texas General Land Office.
“The money from the lease goes into the school land fund,” Brashear said. “So the children of the state of Texas get to benefit from the lease — what the pier sits on. So everything is a plus.”
Timeline of the project
Construction of the project began Feb. 10.
“We’re just getting started,” he said. “We can do 200-feet now.”
According to Brashear, it will be a multi-year process to complete the project.
Brashear said construction will stop during turtle season from March 15 through October 15.
He said then construction will continue for ‘the next leg’ of the project.
“It took seven years to get the permit,” Brashear said. “I don’t know how long it will take to build, but I’m going to have fun building it. That’s for sure.”
Soon after opening his beach bar in 2012, Brashear said he thought of the idea to create a fishing pier.
He said he thinks the fishing pier will be good for the area and a lot of fun.
“My hope is that it will give people of the Rio Grande Valley a chance to come out and fish in the Gulf waters and give the tourists that stay in the hotels something else to do on South Padre Island,” Brashear said.
According to Brashear, the pier allows for a place where low-income people can fish.
“I think that now the kids in the Rio Grande Valley will have a chance to come out and fish in deeper water where that’s only available to people who own boats,” he said. “So I think that it gives the lower income people a chance to do what rich people do.”
Response of the project
Brashear said he’s heard a lot of positive feedback from the public about his project.
“The neighboring hotels are really excited because they feel like it will help fill hotel rooms and it will create occupancy tax,” he said. “So it will be good for the area and it will create jobs.”
Angus and Nancy Schocko spent their Friday morning sitting by the beach and watching the early construction of the pier.
The couple said they were visiting from Wisconsin and like the Island’s relaxed style compared to some other places they’ve visited.
“It’s just fun to watch the process of putting the pilings in the water and watching the process as its getting pounded in,” Nancy said. “I like the idea of the final result.”
Nancy said the project sounds like a good thing for the area.
“It sounds like something I would really look forward to coming back to see and visit,” she said. “Even if you’re not a fisherman, it is fun to see what the fishermen catch and to watch the pelicans that will probably come into the area a little bit more because of that.”
Brashear said he remembers visiting a beachside pier on the Island when he was a child.
“There was a pier when I was 8-years-old,” Brashear said. “It was at Andy Bowie Park and was named Kleinman’s Pier.”
According to writer and historian Steve Hathcock, Kleinman’s Pier was about five miles north of the original Queen Isabella Causeway.
Hathcock said it extended 300 feet from the shore and ended with a 200-foot T-head that stood in 18-feet of water.
The Gulfside Pier was constructed in 1962 by Cameron County Parks and was originally leased to Rudy Kleinman until he lost his lease in 1968 for failing to properly clean and repair the area after Hurricane Beulah struck in 1967, according to Hathcock.
“Though there was mention of numerous fish being caught from or near it in 1977, I’m not sure if it ever regained its old popularity,” Hathcock stated in an email. “Hurricane Alan struck in 1980 and pretty much wiped out the structure, though there were still some pilings in the water when I arrived in the early 1980s.”