Michael Cary Reports: Ingleside vows to monitor base talks at Port Commission

For immediate release: Mar 17, 2010


The Ingleside City Council’s decision to question the Corpus Christi Port Commission’s negotiation methods concerning Naval Station Ingleside could produce better communications.

City Council members discussed their attendance at a Port Commission meeting on Tuesday, March 9 at their own regular meeting that same day.

“We opened the eyes and ears of the Port Commission by having that meeting last Friday. Trust has gone out the window. The reason they put as much on the table was because we were there,” said Mayor Stella Herrmann regarding the meeting.

The council had previously voted unanimously to demand more information about prospective redevelopment of Naval Station Ingleside.

Council met with several port commissioners during a special meeting on Friday, March 5 to tell them that the city’s best interest should be seriously considered in any negotiations for tenants to replace the U.S. Navy, which will abandon the base on April 30.

Council had heard from Port Commissioner Kenneth Berry that other commissioners had instructed staff to cease negotiations with a Houston-based ship building company, Apex Group of Companies.

Apex had sought a 99-year lease on the base and adjoining property, which is about 1,000 acres, and wanted to occupy the base by April 1.

Berry wrote a letter protesting that action to Port Commissioners Mike Carrell, Richard Borchard and Judy Hawley.

“You are aware that Apex and its subsidiary companies have to find a site to build their boats for the United States Government. Apex is an extremely credible tenant for the Naval Station Ingleside site,” Berry wrote.

He urged port commissioners to resume negotiations with Apex.

The port commissioners instructed staff to enter negotiations with several prospects during its March 9 meeting, which was attended by a majority of Ingleside City Council members and residents of Ingleside on the Bay.

Herrmann said her request to the port commission to allow representatives from Ingleside to attend executive sessions regarding the naval base was denied.

She said they opted to discuss the base in open session.

“The shock was the amount of offers they had. We were led to believe there was only one offer,” Councilman Jacob Lopez said during the March 9 regular meeting.

“A couple of things I heard didn’t set right with me. I have not felt comfortable since this whole thing started,” Councilman Steve Diehl said.

I walked away more confused. The port has adopted a policy of ‘let’s just get rid of it,’” Diehl said.

He added that only one group of people, the city council, will act in Ingleside’s best interest regarding redevelopment of the naval station.

“We will have to deal with infrastructure on that base at some point,” Diehl said.

“There are concrete offers on the table. Which one to we want to get behind?” he said.

“I’m looking for jobs, with one step further. I’m looking for diversification of jobs. We’ve got to have scenarios and be ready to look at different options. Once the port signs the dotted line we won’t have a bargaining chip,” Diehl said.

In other business, the council heard from Ingleside Chamber of Commerce President Jan Hart concerning preparations for Sail South Texas, which is bringing four Tall Ships to Ingleside for the Fourth of July holiday.

Hart said a committee, called Aloha Ingleside, has met several times to discuss preparations to spruce up the city for the event, which could attract thousands of visitors to Ingleside.

Hart said the chamber wants to purchase banners that have the Sail South Texas logo, in an “arty look” that could be hung in strategic locations around the city.

She said the banners could go up in spots along State Hwy. 361 and along Farm-to-Market Road 1069.

“We’ll drive the area and see where we can put the banners and decide how many banners we can purchase,” Hart said.

“We should rotate them out and really make the town look good,” said City Manager Jim Gray.

He also said funds from the city could be used to purchase 10 planters to place in front of Ingleside businesses.

“Store owners will plant the actual plants. We also will replant the area on either side of the railroad tracks,” Gray said.

Council approved placing watermelon red crape myrtles along F.M. 1069 to add color to the city’s Main Street.

“We don’t really have a lot of color in town,” Gray said.

He also said he has asked the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6386 to place flags alongside the road during the Sail South Texas event.

“Color catches your eye, it’s like a new paint job,” Gray said.

Councilman Diehl said the event and the town’s efforts to make its appearance pleasing to the eye could be integrated with an overall effort to beautify Ingleside.

He proposed creating a line item in the city budget to help pay for expenses the city will incur during the Sail South Texas event.

His motion to direct staff to include $10,000 in the budget for the event was met with unanimous approval.

Gray informed the council that the City of Aransas Pass will launch a recycling program on Saturday, March 27, and has extended an invitation to Ingleside residents to participate in the program.