Padre Island
Administrative History
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When William L. Bowen arrived in Corpus Christi on July 1, 1963, to serve as the first superintendent of Padre Island National Seashore, he knew as well as anyone what Padre Island offered to the national park system. During his days as a recreation planner with Region III in Santa Fe in the 1950s, Bowen visited Padre Island on several occasions becoming familiar with its natural resources and local supporters. Likewise, during his tenure in Washington in the early 1960s, he saw first-hand the political struggle for Padre Island's designation and knew that more struggles might lie ahead. He also knew that as one of the first national seashores designated in the country and the only one in the Southwest, Padre Island had special challenges. Whether through chance or careful planning, Superintendent Bowen brought to Padre Island National Seashore a combination of experience with the National Park Service and vision that would prove useful in the initial years. [1]

Park Establishment

The first month of operation passed rapidly. Bowen secured temporary offices in the Chicago Building at 3105 Leopard Street in downtown Corpus Christi. Shortly thereafter, he hired, Gertrude Murdoch, as a secretary and secured Allen C. Staggers as land acquisition officer from the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans. Staggers brought years of experience in acquiring land for public agencies and seemed ideal for the entangled land titles everyone knew awaited the Park Service. On August 23rd, a week after arrival, Superintendent Bowen and Staggers drove to Austin for an official ceremony acquiring the State's portion of Padre Island. In an ironic display of pomp and ceremony, the State of Texas, whose elected officials had been opposed to the National Seashore, conveyed 33,545.41 acres of beach and submerged lands to the Federal government. These were largely tidelands stretching from the mean high-water line to the two-fathom line whose ownership had been so hotly debated and finally settled in favor of Texas by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1946. Senate Bill 6, which had passed during the 58th Texas Legislature in 1963, authorized the transfer of title. In the largely symbolic gesture, the State School Land Board, comprising Land Commissioner Jerry Sadler, Governor John Connally, and Attorney General Waggoner Carr, conveyed all of the right, title, and interest of the State of Texas in the surface estate of lands owned by the State within the boundaries of the National Seashore. Although the deed included no buildable land, it symbolically served as the start of a full-scale land acquisition program on Padre Island. [2]

As land acquisition officer, Alan Staggers faced as many as half a dozen surveys of Padre Island and scores of overlapping claims and titles. The earliest ownership records of Padre Balli estimated 11.5 leagues, or approximately 50,000 acres, on Padre Island. The 1941 survey conducted by J.S. Boyles at the request of the State of Texas, doubled that amount to as many as 100,000 acres. Over the years, several oil companies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey produced maps with some indicating as many as 150,000 acres on the island. With these conflicting survey reports, loss of land on the Gulf shore, and accretions in the Laguna Madre, Staggers and Bowen knew that a new, up-to-date survey was vital to setting a value for the land and settling claims with various property owners. In 1963 Staggers issued specifications for a new survey to be conducted during spring 1964. By April 24, 1964, the Park Service contracted with Tex-La Engineering Service, Inc., of Houston, Texas, for $19,875, with Thomas R. Godley of the Corpus Christi branch serving as the principal civil engineer. [3]

Supts. Bowen and Borgman
Figure 15. Superintendent William L. Bowen (left) and Second Superintendent Earnest Borgman (right) in Front of New Padre Island National Seashore Headquarters, ca. 1960. Photo courtesy PAIS Archives.

Staggers needed a high degree of accuracy and a clear, clean set of tract records in order to be persuasive in the upcoming negotiations. For these purposes, Tex-La Engineering prepared an aerial mosaic on Mylar that overlay the tract maps from the 1939 land survey. Staggers wanted to be able to refer back to the 1939 survey by locating and identifying on an aerial map the permanent coast and geodetic monuments set during that earlier survey. The National Seashore also needed clearly delineated boundaries on the surface and requested Tex-La to place permanent concrete monuments at regular intervals to mark the north and south boundaries of the park and offer detailed metes and bounds for each identified tract. [4]

Godley's updated survey delineated 16 tracts of land under private ownership, exclusive of the formerly State-owned land. These private owners held 100,372.82 acres ranging from six to more than 66,000 acres. [5] Private landowners retained all oil, gas, and other mineral rights as protected by the Texas and Federal legislation for the National Seashore. The State also retained its own oil, gas, and other mineral rights, but granted surface estate or rights to the Federal government. Under Texas property law, ownership of subsurface minerals is determined by surface property lines. The location of property lines subsequently evolved into a bitter dispute between the State and private landowners. Although the Federal government now owned the surface rights to part of Padre Island, the intergovernmental transaction left open to debate the exact location of some property lines, and thus the mineral rights. Staggers predicted that this issue would eventually have to be settled by special agreement or through the courts. [6]

Alan Staggers also uncovered another land title issue. Congressional authorization for the National Seashore had reserved for property owners "the oil and gas minerals and other minerals that can be mined in a similar manner under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior." This statement allowed the Federal government to acquire any minerals other than oil and gas and those mined in a dissimilar manner. While everyone now seemed to accept that oil and gas would be mined in the National Seashore, there was little discussion of other minerals. The main problem came from the direct conflict set up in the State of Texas authorization, Senate Bill 6, which allowed all minerals to be extracted. Although Staggers identified this problem, he did not attempt to resolve the potential conflict. [7]

The enormous task of acquiring land and the complexity of the land ownership occupied a great deal of time for the park staff during its first few months. In November 1963 Staggers and Bowen added a secretary, Annette Medina, then in March 1964, they hired a staff appraiser, Samuel McBurnett. McBurnett's employment complemented the work of Alan Staggers by allowing one Park Service employee to concentrate on verifying and reviewing appraisals contracted with and completed by private title companies. For the Federal government's part, McBurnett completed his own appraisals for each tract in the National Seashore. With their own appraisals, Staggers and McBurnett set priorities for land acquisition. The northern one-third became Priority I because it was the first to be developed for visitor facilities beginning in Fiscal Year 1966. The southernmost acreage of approximately 12,000 acres became Priority II. This left the central portion with more than 65,000 acres as Priority III. [8]

While the Padre Island staff dealt with the problems of establishing a new park, Congress argued over a new conservation bill to fund park acquisition that many in the National Park Service and the Texas Congressional delegation thought could benefit the Padre Island acquisition program. The bill, later called the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1964, became the favored child of Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall. Udall proposed that admission fees to national parks and a portion of the highway taxes be combined for Federal park acquisition and grants for state and local parks. [9] When the Conservation Fund stalled in Congress, the Park Service sought a special appropriation for Padre Island that passed on September 17, 1964. The additional $3.5 million appropriated combined with the original $1.5 million for land acquisition at Padre, finally granted the staff authority for negotiating land purchase prices. [10]

On September 18, 1964, Superintendent Bowen, Land Acquisition Officer Staggers, and other staff members met with the owners of Tracts Two through Six and Eight through 11 to secure options on the land. Negotiations now became quite difficult. Two of the owners, Albert R. and Lawrence R. Jones, were deceased, and their estates undivided, and the remaining owners were a group of mortgage bankers incorporated under the name Laguna Madre Corporation and based all over the United States. The Corporation later hired a Houston law firm, Reynolds, Bracewell and Patterson, to represent them because they could not agree on a price. These tracts became even more difficult when Staff Appraiser McBurnett and the appraiser under contract with the Park Service reached different values for Tracts 11 and 12. In an effort to break the stalemate, the Park Service contracted for a third appraisal in October 1964 scheduled for completion in January 1965. Shortly after the new appraisal was commissioned, McBurnett left the National Seashore staff for another Federal government position in Corpus Christi leaving future negotiations up to Staggers. [11]

During a second meeting with the same property owners in February 1965, the owners reported that their appraisals were still incomplete and they could not negotiate for another 60 days. Staggers informed the owners that the Federal government intended to proceed with condemnation proceedings in ten days. In an effort to allow the owners plenty of time to still negotiate, Staggers added that after filing at least 60 days would be required before it went into effect. This time frame allowed the property owners some flexibility in spite of the approaching new fiscal year when construction was scheduled to begin in the Priority I area. [12]

Figure 16. Map of Land Acquisition. Base map: U.S. Department of Agricultural Soil Conservation Service, September 1967. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

On the following day, Staggers met with representatives of the South Padre Investment Corporation for negotiations on Tracts 14 and 16 at the Sea Island Motel on South Padre Island. He made purchase offers for both tracts. The Corporation's officer immediately rejected the proposal promising a counter offer shortly. Staggers repeatedly stressed the urgency of acquiring these tracts and that a prolonged delay would probably result in the Park Service filing condemnation proceedings as it was doing on the northern tracts. [13] In spite of Staggers suggestion, the representatives of South Padre Investment Corporation remained stalwart. In retrospect, the Corporation probably never intended to negotiate an agreement with Staggers preferring instead to seek higher land values through the conservative and sympathetic courts of South Texas.

During March 1965, Alan Staggers resumed negotiations for Tract Eight owned by the heirs of F.S. Lovenskiold. Although a purchase price was still under negotiation, he felt that some compromise might be reached before proceeding with a condemnation. If not, condemnation proceedings had to be initiated by July 1965 for the tract to be available for development in Fiscal Year 1966 as projected. [14]

The most serious problem for acquisition, however, centered on Tract 13. The title companies investigating ownership in Willacy County discovered that this tract consisted of accretion developed since the completion of the 1941 Boyles Survey. The Willacy County Navigation District acquired this tract from the State of Texas when dredging for Port Mansfield in the 1950s. Staggers and the title company felt that the South Padre Investment Corporation needed to grant a quit claim before the Park Service could proceed with acquisition of this tract from the Navigation District. The acquisition, however, was complicated because the Park Service lacked authority to acquire land from other government agencies except through a purchase. When Staggers and other Park Service officials examined Tract 13, they began to reconsider acquisition. To them, the accretion provided little value for projected park uses especially since it reportedly flooded during heavy winds. With such obvious problems, Park Service officials decided against acquisition allowing Tract 13 to become the first of several projected areas removed from the acquisition program. [15]

Two other tracts required even more consideration than Tract 13. Tracts 15 and 17 fell at the extreme southern portion of the National Seashore area. South Padre Investment Corporation, now reluctant to sell to the Federal government, had sold these tracts prior to final authorization for the National Seashore. Tracts 15 and 17 were on the south side of the larger Tracts 14 and 16 still owned by the Corporation and under debate. Without Tracts 14 and 16, the smaller tracts were useless. Staggers decided to delay negotiations on the extreme southern tracts until the Corporation and Park Service resolved their other disagreements. He hoped this delay would not jeopardize negotiations for the more important Tracts 14 and 16. [16]

By June, negotiations for the purchase of Tracts Two through Six and Eight through 11 stalled indefinitely. The owners of Tract Seven, consisting of 693 acres, however, agreed upon a price and settled before condemnation proceedings began. [17] The urgency to begin development of park facilities in Fiscal Year 1966, meant that tracts on the northern end of the island needed to be acquired immediately. Therefore, Park Service officials through the United States Attorney General's office filed its first condemnation suit for the 22,680 acres found on the remaining nine Priority I tracts in Kleberg County on June 16 and took possession on June 28, 1965. Two days later Staggers transferred to Ozark National Scenic Rivet-Ways and his secretary, Annette K. Medina, later rehired, was released from employment under a reduction-in-force program. [18]

The Laguna Madre Corporation, Virginia Jones Mullin, Gilbert Kerlin, and five representatives of the McCampbell family appeared in various combinations as the owners of Tracts Two through Six and Eight through 11 of condemned land. Using appraisals conducted during the prior year, the Park Service offered $1,212,350 for all of the property. [19] Over the next year the Park Service and property owners debated the appraised values in and out of court. In October 1966, a five-week condemnation trial ended with $5,562,875 awarded by the jury to the owners. [20] The $5.5 million award reached almost five times the original projected value and by itself exceeded the $5 million limit on acquisition costs set when Congress established the park. Because Tracts 12 through 17 were still to be acquired, Congress needed to authorize a higher limit for acquisition and appropriate more money in upcoming budgets in order to meet the needs of the National Seashore. [21] The remaining tracts (Tracts 12-17) constituted the largest blocks of land needed to complete the 80.5 mile park authorized by Congress. Most of the acreage fell in Kenedy County and Priority III, but the most controversial sections were in Willacy County and a small part that crossed into Cameron County. The problems with the southernmost sections reflected the long-term opposition to the National Seashore raised by investors and developers on South Padre Island.

In December 1965 the U.S. Attorney General filed two new condemnation suits with a declaration of taking for all remaining lands in the proposed park except 70 acres of mud flats in Tract 13 still owned by the Willacy County Navigation District. [22] Once again the condemnation resulted in a court battle over appropriate appraised values. The jury award for Tract 12, more than 66,360 acres, exceeded $4 million. This verdict and the earlier one for property in Kleberg County totaled to more than $9 million. In October 1968 Congress passed special legislation to appropriate an additional $6.8 million for court imposed values. A third condemnation suit for 10,000 acres south of Mansfield Channel resulted in a jury award of $9.8 million. [23] The presiding judge, however, determined that this award was so "excessive" that it "shocked the conscience of the court," and then reduced the amount by $2.5 million. By December 1968 the National Park Service, U.S. Attorney General, and presiding judge reached an accord. The Park Service would reduce its original park acquisition goal of 80.5 miles to 66 and extend from seven miles south of Bob Hall Pier to the Mansfield Channel. This left approximately 10,000 acres north of the Channel with a court set price of $5.7 million. It also returned 1,638 acres to the South Padre Investment Corporation and the accompanying beach and tideland to the State of Texas. The judge directed the defendants, South Padre Investment Corporation, to either accept the awarded amount and compromise, or return to court. [24] The following July 1969 Congress passed another appropriation of $4.1 million to complete the purchase of park land with the judge's compromise. [25]

Development of Park Headquarters

In 1963 Superintendent Bill Bowen began the search for a permanent headquarters building, almost immediately after arrival. By September 1964 the Park Service and General Services Administration announced that a location for a permanent headquarters was selected on an estimated 200-foot tract of land on Island Drive in Flour Bluff between Lexington Boulevard and the Island Drive intersection. Consolidated Investment Properties agreed to finance the headquarters; McNeil Construction Company agreed to construct it. The projected office building covered 2,715 square feet with 11 offices and a lobby-reception room. A shop and storage building held another 2,631 square feet and a fenced parking area adjoined. McNeil Construction targeted January 1, 1965, for completion. [26] McNeil's plans changed and construction began in December, 90 days after originally projected, and March 1, 1965, became the new date for occupancy. [27]

The National Park Service finally occupied the office building at 1001 Island Drive in late March 1965 and hosted an open house in early April. Superintendent Bowen announced in the Corpus Christi newspaper prior to the opening that the office building would serve as the main contact point for visitors to the National Seashore until construction of a headquarters building on the island. He added that the staff would be available to the public from eight to five each day. As Bowen prepared the new headquarters to reflect the presence of the seashore outside the park, he set up displays of the park and commissioned a painting by local artist John Deane to hang in the new building. The superintendent and seven other staff members based at the headquarters now occupied a permanent facility and began for the first time since the park's establishment to wear the traditional park uniforms. [28]

Park Planning and Public Relations

With the arrival of Superintendent Bowen to Corpus Christi in mid 1963, the National Seashore became a reality and speculation arose about what might be future facilities and development on Padre Island. Local citizens, who eagerly supported the National Seashore for its potential recreational use, now regularly quizzed Bowen when he made public appearances. But Bowen was largely at a loss for specifics. Although Park Service officials in Washington started a master plan in early 1964, nothing concrete appeared for public dissemination. Everyone knew that a master plan required completion before actual construction could begin, but because of the delay in planning, the request for funding preceded the plan and received approval in President Lyndon Johnson's Fiscal Year 1966 budget. By January 1965 Bowen reported that four chapters of the first master plan were complete or in draft form, but as the new Fiscal Year 1966 approached the need for planning and engineering specifications became urgent. In order to use the $647,300 allocated for construction in the president's budget, completed plans were required. [29]

Demand for a completed master plan increased as 1965 unfolded for the new park. Park Service officials as well as community leaders at the north and south ends of Padre Island recognized that a plan would help with political acceptance of the park. In lieu of a plan, however, the park staff, especially the park rangers, became the public relations arm of the National Seashore. Civic clubs, schools, and all types of local organizations offered opportunities for park staff to talk about the new National Seashore. When an opportunity arose, park staff generally accepted and served a vital role in establishing a presence for the Seashore. [30]

As the initial plans to place a park ranger in the North District and another in the South District began to unfold in late 1964, public relations took on a broader audience. Art Partin became the first district park ranger hired, and for political reasons, Bowen placed him in the South District at Port Isabel beginning October 1964. Partin's presence boosted public relations there and helped to dispel the long-held resentment there against the National Seashore.

The public relations efforts began to pay off, but local residents seemed most interested in how the new park would benefit them. Park Service officials responded by releasing parts of the 1964 Master Plan and discussing recreational development in the context of resource conservation. The plan set two zones of intensive development, one near the northern end and another at the southern end. Because Bowen and the park planners believed that the northern entrance from Corpus Christi would attract the most visitors, land acquisition and development concentrated on this section first. In July 1965, Superintendent Bowen reported that an initial step had been made in this direction with a private interest developing and leasing to the Park Service boat dockage and storage, and an 800 square foot residence. [31] This facility, located at the end of Laguna Shores Road in Flour Bluff, would later become the Laguna Madre Ranger Station until the early 1980s. It was the first ranger facility completed in the National Seashore. Several months later, Bowen mentioned that plans were underway to designate a beach area for visitors, build lifeguard stands, and provide temporary toilets. [32]

As the National Seashore turned into a reality, public relations improved throughout the area with occasional problems occurring on South Padre. In July 1965 Superintendent Bowen reported that "concern is being expressed by the south end (Cameron and Willacy Counties) that all construction is going on the north end. Land acquisition problems, access, etc. indicate that this may get worse before it gets better. A change in Service thinking may be required, i.e., much as we might like to schedule all construction on the north end for 1966-1967 and 1968, cold, hard political facts-of-life may indicate some readjustment." [33] A few months later, Bowen reiterated the point that activity on the south end must match that on the north. [34]

In the same report as he lamented the lack of planning and the problems on South Padre, Superintendent Bowen expressed frustration over acquiring power and water from the mainland to the National Seashore. Central Power and Light Company agreed to provide all the electricity needed, but only after access roads and a utility right-of-way were completed. The Park Service also tried to persuade Central Power and Light to bury the power lines, but failed. Despite the delays, the agreement with the Power and Light Company seemed to be one of the few steps forward for the National Seashore. The City of Corpus Christi officials, however, were less cooperative. They reluctantly agreed to a four-mile extension of water lines to the northernmost boundary of the park, but would go no farther. Park Service funds and personnel would be required to extend the water from that point. Bowen predicted that 800,000 gallons through a four-inch line would reach the northern boundary in ample supply for the park, but an "elaborate system" would be necessary to provide adequate supplies eight miles south to the principal development areas. All development of public utilities depended on the construction of roads that were neither funded nor planned for in the Fiscal Year 1966 budget. [35] The urgency of road development required Superintendent Bowen to advance funds from Fiscal Year 1967 to 1966 for construction of a 5.7-mile entrance road to the North District Headquarters. [36] Work on an internal road, however, depended on another road being built by the State of Texas to the park's northern entrance. The latter were completed in late 1966 and plans were executed for the internal roadway soon afterwards. [37] Completion of the State road allowed for the water and electrical systems to be funded and completed for the North District development. This work began in spring 1967. [38] In spite of all the utilities planning completed or underway, none mentioned sewage disposal. This later proved a critical oversight by the Park Service.

Work on the internal road system began in late summer of 1967. B&E Construction Company of Corpus Christi contracted for the internal roadway, a 1,200 car parking area, and three miles of spur roads within the National Seashore. [39] Aerial photographs provided a layout of the island surface allowing each proposed roadway to be sketched in before construction. While expedient on paper, this procedure failed to take into account the constantly shifting sands in the middle section of the island. Early park staff recalled years later the problems of constructing the road to the North District development because of the sand. [40] By August a shell roadbed was in place but not open to the public. [41] Although on schedule for completion in December 1967, Hurricane Beulah on September 23rd came inland near South Padre Island washing away shell from the new parking area and flooding the unpaved roadway. [42] Hurricane Beulah delayed park development plans on the north end by only a few months, but provided a serious lesson on the impact of hurricanes on barrier islands. Some park employees began to acknowledge for the first time that development plans for the south end would need to be altered. Beulah's force devastated parts of South Padre Island washing all the way across the island to the Laguna Madre in places. The relatively low topography without high foredunes gave no protection to the storm's waves. [43]

By October 1968 information on the contents of the National Seashore master plan began to reach residents of the area. In an unusual display of enthusiasm, U.S. Representative John Young of Corpus Christi issued a statement indicating that the Park Service planned to emphasize recreational facilities rather than the more natural state as implied during Congressional hearings. Young told Corpus Christi residents of a planned marina approximately 30 miles south of the northern boundary that stretched between the Laguna Madre and the Gulf. This project "fits just hand in glove," Young stated, with suggestions for passes across the island into the Laguna Madre to aid fishing and desalinization of the bay. The Laguna Madre plan appeared similar to projections made by the Texas State Board of Parks and Wildlife in 1962. Young applauded the development plans adding that it seemed a likely candidate for Federal funds from the new Land and Water Conservation Act, based on outdoor recreation plans of the State. Another smaller development two miles inside the north end of the park included a camping area with cabanas and picnic facilities. [44] Representative Young's comments echoed the longstanding local interest in intensive recreational development on Padre Island. This interest, Young knew, also had political support, and he intended to become closely aligned with the future National Seashore. Over the next few years, everyone, including Young, recognized that these ambitious plans would not be financially feasible and maybe even desirable for the fragile barrier island ecosystem.

As plans for the National Seashore developed, Bowen turned his attention to providing ranger housing and headquarters on the island in addition to that already provided on the Laguna Madre. The first Park Service plans had called for two district ranger headquarters within the park: one north, one south. The North District headquarters was needed as soon as possible because of construction work scheduled for Fiscal Year 1966. The Park Service, faced with expensive acquisition costs and trouble with facilities' development overall, arranged for an inter-agency transfer of the Navy Target "Caffey" barracks already positioned near the north end of the acquired park land. [45] Caffey barracks remained from World War II when Navy personnel lived on the island to monitor the bombing targets and outside use. Plans for the barracks included adapting and rehabilitating it for a temporary ranger headquarters, information and service center, and as the center for maintenance facilities. Bowen added two house trailers near the barracks for temporary residences, one for the North District ranger and the other for a second park ranger. Park personnel scheduled occupancy for July 1966. [46]

In contrast to the urgency for ranger facilities at the north end, staff planned no facilities for the South District headquarters. The difficulty in acquiring park land at the south end slowed plans for that District. In the meantime, the South District ranger, Art Partin, operated out of temporary facilities at Port Isabel. In 1970 the eventual demise of the park's south end and compromise to not extend beyond the Mansfield Channel terminated the plans for a permanent South District headquarters.

The lack of a south end facility, made access to the central part of the National Seashore increasingly difficult. To offset the problem, park rangers built a small building across from the wrecked Nicaragua (a well known early twentieth century shipwreck) for a down-island patrol cabin in the early 1970s. The cabin provided overnight facilities for rangers conducting patrols or research down island as well as an occasional retreat for a ranger and family. The frame building proved useful until destroyed by Hurricane Allen in 1980. [47]

Caffey Barracks
Figure 17. Caffey Barracks Adapted as Ranger Station. Photo courtesy PAIS Archives.

Malaquite Beach Facilities

As promised in 1965, Superintendent Bowen designated a beach area and initiated plans for permanent facilities on North Padre Island. The selected area fell approximately 12 miles south of Bob Hall Pier along what became known as North Beach. Superintendent Ernest Borgman, the second park superintendent, named the area in 1968, "Malaquite Beach," for the Coahuiltecan tribe, Malaquitas, who once lived on Padre Island. [48]

Malaquite Beach offered an ideal setting for permanent park facilities. A wide sandy beach, large dunes, and close proximity to the northern end of the park meant that permanent park facilities would be used by thousands of tourists now projected to visit the new National Seashore. After selecting the site, Borgman and others retained the Corpus Christi architectural firm of Brock and Mabrey to design the facilities. The firm's experience with the conditions on Padre Island seemed essential to the project's success. Brock and Mabrey first evaluated the climatic and geographic features of Padre Island. Because of the extreme heat, blowing sand, and intense light on the island, the architects devised a bi-level concept with extended and raised boardwalks connecting enclosed levels of various buildings, thus allowing visitors to escape the varied beach conditions as needed. The architects then selected a site on the foredunes overlooking North Beach. All the buildings faced the ocean with a north-south alignment and connected to a parking area below the foredunes on the western side. A bi-level camping area would be located to the north with one level on the beach and the other on the foredunes. Eleven separate buildings or structures were planned: public use building (locker rooms, concession sales, a coffee shop), information and exhibit building, restaurant, administration building, multi-use building (water reservoir and viewing tower), employee residences, group picnic shelters, utility building, kiosks, cabanas, and boardwalk concessions. The facilities accommodated 5,000 visitors. Of the 11 planned buildings and structures, only the public use building, multi-use building, boardwalk concessions, ramps, and parking lots were built. [49]

Although the architects completed their plans in 1967 on schedule, no development seemed possible in January 1968. Superintendent Borgman expressed his frustration in his midyear Fiscal Year 1968 report:

Concentrated endeavor and a lot of hard work has gone into an attempt to achieve some modicum of success in arriving at goals which have periodically been set in the past... A visitor facility, though minimal, was expected to be completed at Malaquite Beach in the spring of 1968. It cannot now be completed in time to be of any significant value for visitor use during 1968 ... A speedy response and clarity of purpose in establishing reasonable and realistic new goals is called for. Necessary corrective measures are reflected now in non routine goals proposed as follows. [50]

As the year passed, small steps were made on the development plan. A $2.2 million dollar appropriation finally came from the National Park Service for construction of permanent facilities including a proposed sewage treatment plant. After the letting of construction bids, however, the estimates exceeded the Park Service appropriation. Borgman in consultation with other Park Service officials chose to proceed with building the permanent facilities, but in order to stay in budget, they decided to remove the sewage treatment plant from the current year's project. By fall 1968 work began on the permanent facilities at Malaquite Beach including paving roadways and a parking area. The absence of a sewage treatment plant, however, caused problems. No additional funds were available for the 1969 season and Borgman delayed plans for opening the National Seashore. During the fall Congressional session of 1968, Congressman John Young of Corpus Christi, now committed to the project, sought some solution to the problem. He and Superintendent Borgman explored a number of alternatives including portable chemical toilets and trailer comfort stations. Borgman disliked all of the temporary solutions discussed. He saw the problem worsening with a growing need for visitor facilities and so little funding forthcoming from the Park Service. The national political scene seemed to disfavor additional appropriations for Padre. Senator Ralph Yarborough lost his bid for reelection in the 1968 Democratic primary, and the now senior Republican Senator John Tower was adamantly opposed to the National Seashore. Moreover, President Lyndon Johnson, a friend to Padre funding requests in the past, did not seek reelection and a new administration occupied the White House. It became obvious to Borgman as the time neared for the 1969 visitor season that permanent facilities could be fully in place and able to be operated except for a method of sewage disposal. Congressman Young encouraged Borgman to take advantage of all temporary solutions promising to secure the needed $300,000 to $400,000 appropriation in Fiscal Year 1970 that would begin July 1, 1969. [51]

Malaquite Beach facilities
Figure 18. Malaquite Beach Facilities. Photo courtesy PAIS Archives.

Superintendent Borgman continued Park Service plans for opening Malaquite in spite of these problems. In December 1968, Borgman released the first Prospectus for a concessionaire to operate the Malaquite facilities. The following July, the Padre Island National Seashore Company received a contract to operate concessions in the National Seashore for 20 years. The Corpus Christi company, formed solely for in response to the Park Service solicitation, agreed to occupy the Malaquite facilities within four months and have exclusive concession rights at all north facilities. The Company announced that umbrella, chair, and float rentals would be available by Labor Day, and food and souvenir concessions, and eventually cabanas would follow by the end of 1969. An annual rental fee and 3 percent of the annual gross receipts would return to the National Park Service. [52] Within two months, Padre Island National Seashore Company reported a fire in the concession area which delayed opening the concessions until January 1970. [53]

Construction work ended in late 1969 on the Malaquite Beach facilities. After the sewage treatment plant received an appropriation in Fiscal Year 1970 as Congressman Young promised, the first phase of the park facilities was complete. With a critical milestone reached, Superintendent Borgman in October 1969 accepted the superintendency of Mt. McKinley National Park and Katmai National Monument in Alaska. Borgman, who arrived at Padre Island in 1964 as the first Park Ranger, and replaced Superintendent William Bowen in February 1966, continued the struggle to develop the park. [54]

After seven years, the Park Service held title to the majority of proposed park land and established a physical presence both inland at Flour Bluff and on the island. Through the impressive work of Superintendents Bowen and Borgman and enthusiastic park employees, Padre Island National Seashore represented a viable public entity in the region that seemed destined to grow. Full operation of the park, beginning with the 1970 season, now remained with the park staff and a new superintendent as they anticipated an ever-increasing number of visitors.

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Last Updated: 14-Jun-2005