No vote for Cole Park masterplan

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A multimillion-dollar vision was presented to members of the Corpus Christi City Council during Tuesday’s meeting.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department has submitted master plan proposals for Cole Park and Labonte Park. If a master plan is approved for the parks, it will guide the growth and development of the sites. The Department of Parks and Recreation said this goal would be achieved through priority investments, programs, policies and practices.

Concept renderings were provided for the master plans. The conceptual rendering of Labonte Park include an observation tower, playground, riverside trail and campground. There was also an addition of RV sites and a bathhouse. Both would be near the proposed waterfront trail. The visuals showed picnic tables, kayak launch sites, a boardwalk and a gathering pavilion along the banks of the Nueces River. The price of the master plan was estimated at around $38.2 million.

Paul Salazar

Cole Park has been on the city’s radar due to its qualities that attract tourists to the area near Corpus Christi Bay. The space was donated by EB Cole. In 1935, Cole Park was originally situated on a six-acre parcel, but was expanded to twenty acres in 1996. Since then, it has undergone numerous improvement projects, including a fishing pier, parking lots and A playground. More recent improvements to Cole Park include the resurfacing of the skate park, the design of a wading pool, and the Cole Park pier which was opened to the public in December 2021.

Concept renderings of Cole Park featured additional improvements to the park’s trails, amphitheater, and boardwalk. Renovations to the amphitheater roof structure were proposed, along with additional formal seating and a park pathway located behind the berm seating area.

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The estimated cost of the Cole Park master plan was approximately $46 million. Once a master plan is approved for the parks, the city will need to seek funding sources.

Councilman Ben Molina said: “Some possible sources of funding would be the hotel occupancy tax, which is money paid by visitors who visit and some of the money would come from the parks and recreation budget.”

Master plans are subject to change if approved as they are conceptual in nature and not part of the overall city plan. City officials say the master plan does not represent final plans and could change as a project progresses through engineering and design.

At the first city council meeting in November, Mayor Paulette Guajardo and council members complimented the renderings. However, City Manager Peter Zanoni withdrew a recommendation to pass a resolution for the master plans because several council members believed the plans needed more input from city officials and community members.

Once a plan is enacted, city officials said it could be years before a grand vision, similar to the one presented, becomes a reality. Board members were also asking for plans that reflected a three to five year timeline.

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