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Lake Corpus Christi State Park Warming Up to Cool Cottages
MATHIS — Summer days and nights get pretty warm at Lake Corpus Christi State Park, but they will soon feel a lot cooler to guests who reserve ahead. Ten of the park’s 25 screen shelters are now being converted to enclosed cottages — with air conditioners.
The other shelters, not to be neglected, are getting a much needed facelift. The old wood and screen structures are being completely renovated and given durable Hardie Board siding.
"They will look like brand new structures," says Park Superintendent Ethan Belicek.
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife is already at work at Lake Corpus Christi State Park on several of the cottage conversions. This summer TPWD also will repair a partly collapsed water retaining wall that prevents erosion at one of its lakeside camping loops.
Lake Corpus Christi’s more than $500,000 in improvements are another checkmark on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
The screen shelters at Lake Corpus Christi State Park have suffered badly from weather and age, so TPWD is making them better. In addition to converting 10 to cottages and renovating all the others, several of the new cottages and several of the restored shelters, 5 in all, will be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), both inside and out.
Belicek says about half of the conversions and restorations are already underway, with basic demolition, construction and repair completed and electrical work scheduled for May. The other cottages will be done when the first group is finished.
Project manager Jessica Davisson says repair of the retaining wall is scheduled to start in summer 2010. The collapsed wall is causing no danger to park guests.
Like many Texas State Parks, Lake Corpus Christi can boast of being developed and built by the legendary Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), started during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term — in the grip of the Great Depression. The CCC was designed to put thousands of unemployed Americans in jobs benefiting the public and the nation’s natural resources. CCC Company 886 worked on the park from 1934-35, putting up several structures, including a boathouse and administration building.
Today, only one building remains, a refectory, now called the Old Pavilion — or the Club House by some locals — on a bluff looking down over the lake. After 75 years, it is still in use.
"It’s designed as an outdoor activity structure to get a little protection from the sun during the day and get a nice breeze in the evening," says Belicek. "We have converted some of it to administrative offices."
Lake Corpus Christi is in south Texas, four miles from Mathis, 5 miles from Interstate 37, and 42 miles from Corpus Christi.
The 356-acre park has the unusual distinction of being located at a meeting point of three counties, Live Oak, Jim Wells and San Patricio, with most of its land in the latter. For many visitors, Lake Corpus Christi State Park seems huge because it is their gateway to 21,000-acre Lake Corpus Christi, an impoundment formed by damming — several times between 1929 and 1958 — the Nueces River. The lake is the park’s biggest draw.
Much of the park is thickly wooded by mesquite and other shrubs and trees too thick to walk through. In the future, says Belicek, he expects the park to develop hiking trails and birding sites. Lake Corpus Christi is near the Central Flyway, and lists more than 300 bird species spotted there.
But water always is the primary draw. "Our main attractions are fishing, barbecuing and outdoor sports," Belicek says. "We’re heavy into jet-skiing and boating. On the weekends we’re packed. The locals say it’s pretty good fishing. We get a lot of catfish and in the season the crappie spawn is impressive. We’ve got two boat ramps and I’ve seen some large boats launched out of them."
The park has a ‘no wake" boating rule in the coves directly around park camping areas.
"Once they get past that zone, that’s the spot typically used by jet skiers," says Belicek. "They have fun on the water all weekend long."
Watch the official Lake Corpus Christi Sate Park video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYdYHYNiObM
For more information on the park, call 361/547-2635, or visit the park website:
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