CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The future of the iconic Bob Hall Pier was top of mind for county leaders Monday, who voted to approve re-allocating funds to add a second floor onto the new structure.
In a special meeting to discuss funding called by Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales, county commissioners approved using money from the $26 million project to add a second story to the new Bob Hall Pier.
Monday, the pier was gone, with only the former Mikel Mays' restaurant still standing.
Commissioners voted to shift $2 million earmarked for the restaurant and concession’s first-floor expansion. Now, instead, it will be built up.
Mikel Mays’ current operator May Mendoza said the change would provide more square footage, and just made sense.
"This is a huge victory,” she said. “We have been fighting this for a year. We had an ad hoc committee that did two surveys. Over 2500 people, almost 90 percent, said they wanted a second floor."
The approval didn't come without mixed reaction -- not all commissioners were on board with the idea.
Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez tried to get the motion tabled to a later time, which failed. He then voted against the re-allocation of funds.
"The second floor should not be there, because that is not what we talked about in the beginning," said Gonzalez.
Speaker Rachel Caballero also expressed concern during public comment.
"A lot of people do not understand why a private community member is receiving so much tax payer money for a restaurant that is not owned by the tax payers," said Caballero.
Island resident Ted Morris told commissioners there is a lot of support for the addition.
"We have petitions that are over 600 signatures deep, and letters of support," said Morris.
"I was going to make this short and sweet, but I feel like I've been personally attacked. I'm tired of being blamed for things I have not done," said Mendoza following Caballero and Gonzalez' comments.
Mendoza insists there was not any favoritism, that she has held the current contract as the official concessionaire of Mikel Mays since 2013 and that the contract has been put on hold until they rebuild.
She said the addition of the second floor will allow for more event space, something she's excited about for the community.
"Weddings, fundraisers, the Padre Island business association and the list goes on but I didn't have the room, I couldn't shut down the restaurant to do these things for the community, now I can," said Mendoza.
The pier is expected to be finished within a year and a half.