Voters to Decide the Fate of Destination Bayfront Project - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Voters to Decide the Fate of Destination Bayfront Project

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

Corpus Christi voters face another big decision in just a few months, when they decide the fate of a nearly $45 million bond issue for the project known as Destination Bayfront.

However, with the new fees for street repairs and rising property taxes, are voters likely to say yes?

Kiii News Reporter Brian Burns put that question to Tom Whitehurst, a longtime observer of local politics. They were Live on the Bayfront.

Whitehurst has been following local politics for three decades, and he has mixed feelings about the chances for Destination Bayfront.

"There's just people who don't want change, and then there's people who don't want to pay extra," Whitehurst said.

In addition to overseeing the editorial page, Whitehurst is currently the Interim Editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. He sees the lack of Bayfront development as a black mark for the city, but he also sees change.

"There's momentum all over the place. I mean, the Schlitterbahn thing is already on the board to happen. We have these new factories being built along the ship channel," Whitehurst said. "There's just a lot of momentum, and the question is whether we want to circle completely around our Bayfront, which is the iconic part of Corpus Christi. It's what everybody thinks about when they think Corpus Christi. Do we want that space to just sit there empty?"

The $44.6 million project will cost the owner of a $100,000 property about $23 a year in new taxes.

Is this a project that can win voter approval? Whitehurst says, at this point, it's a numbers game.

"It depends on how many people decide to come out to vote," Whitehurst said. "When I drive past the Bayfront on a weekend, I see the Bayfront crowded with people who would use Destination Bayfront. People who are probably eligible to vote. The question is, will they be mobilized."

People on the street also had mixed views about the project.

"The project, I would like it if everything else was already completed, but otherwise, let's fix the motor before you fix the body of the car," resident Tom Estrella said. "They have not fixed the motor."

"I love the beautification process that's happening in Corpus Christi," resident Shar Schwengler said. "I don't agree with everything the City Council does, but I'm willing to pay $23 extra."

Whitehurst sees a lot of people using the Bayfront every weekend, and thinks those people will make or break the election.

"These are people who are definitely committed to going to the Bayfront and doing things, and it's their playground," Whitehurst said. "McGee Beach is their beach, and it appears to me to be a lot of people. And if you can get them to vote, then I think it has a pretty good chance."

If voters approve the bond on Nov. 5, design work for the park would begin with construction expected to start in Spring 2015. The park could open as early as late 2016.