The City of Aransas Pass has spent nearly a million dollars over the past several years cleaning up Conn Brown Harbor. The harbor has undergone an extreme makeover of sorts.
Aransas Pass used to be known as the shrimping capital of the world, and there were some 300 commercial shrimping boats in Conn Brown harbor, but as hard times fell on the industry, many folks quit the business and simply left their boats behind, turning the harbor into a real eyesore; a place filled with abandoned and sunken boats.
At one point, the City says there were some 47 boats that had been left behind in the harbor.
"We were kind of lax in our enforcement of regulations down there at the harbor, and we weren't watching who was coming in and out very close," said Mike Sullinger, City Manager of Aransas Pass. "Other cities were a little bit more observant than we were on that, I'm afraid. I'm not blaming anybody, but it seems like we just let them kind of pile up down there, and that's what happened."
The City provided photos of what it looked like in the past, documenting just what the harbor had become. It had become a place where people would dump their boats, and the City has gone to great lengths in recent years to remove those boats from the harbor, and has done so successfully.
Now, Conn Brown Harbor looks very different, and its future is bright and filled with lots of different possibilities.
"This is now a vision that you can actually see, and I can envision a dive shop, a nautical arts shop," said Mike Moore, Director of Marina Operations. "I can envision condos and little town houses around here, and this could develop into a great, great recreational boating destination."
The City said there are now only three commercial shrimping boats in the harbor, and while shrimping will always be a part of the community, the goal is to transition the harbor into a recreational destination; a place for boaters and tourists.
One key example of that is a boat house that opened last November, and already houses some 125 boats. There is also a new restaurant, Red Fish Willie's Waterfront Grill, right next door.
The City said it still has a lot of work to do, and there's still a lot of contamination on certain properties down there, but it's working on getting the money to clean that up, and is proud of the progress that's already been made. They are optimistic about the future of the harbor.
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