Property Lease Clears the Way for More Trails

·       by Erinn Callahan

·       Nov. 22, 2016

SURFSIDE BEACH — A project of both historical and economic significance is one step closer after the small beach village reached an agreement with a local conservation group.

Village officials met last week with representatives from the Cradle of Texas Conservancy, and the conservancy agreed to lease to the village about 15 lots it owns around the site for the proposed Fort Velasco replica near City Hall, Mayor Larry Davison said.

The agreement will allow the village to clean up and maintain the properties, Davison said. Village officials will begin preparing the site in January.

“We’re getting ready to start moving some dirt and material in January and start the project going,” Davison said. “We have a lot of materials stockpiling from the boat ramp construction.”

The village owns the majority of the property surrounding the site, Davison said, although a portion belongs to Port Freeport.

“We’re going to lease it to the port for the portions of the Jetty Park extension area,” the mayor said. “We’re trying to tie it all together so we can get everything lined up.”

The village’s end game is to create a 5-mile trail system down Bluewater Highway that spans the entire village from the boat ramp at Jetty Park, Alderman Peggy Llewellyn said.

“It’ll go from one end of town to the other,” Llewellyn said. “It’s a neat concept.”

Construction has been divided into three phases. Phase I began in 2009, spanning from the village entrance at Highway 332 to Stahlman Park.

The third and final phase, which received a $153,593 grant in 2014 from Texas Parks and Wildlife, brings the trail down the opposite side of the village through Surf Drive. It will connect with the existing trail at Surfside Jetty County Park then conclude at the future Fort Velasco site.

The village only has the funding for the trails, but Llewellyn said she hopes they are only the first step in weaving together the beach’s natural and historical highlights.

The system is intended to culminate at a replica of Fort Velasco, which the Old Velasco/Surfside Beach Historical Committee raises money each year to build.

“That’s down the road and we’re hoping to have signage that talks about the importance of it,” Llewellyn said. “The trail version of it sets the groundwork. I think we have such beautiful natural resources that building trails is just a great way to bring off-season people to Surfside.

“It’s nice to have places where people can come and walk and ride their bicycles. That’s the kind of stuff we want to encourage in the community.”

Erinn Callahan is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0150.