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Redevelopment Planned for Hurricane-Wrecked Sea Rim State Park
PORT ARTHUR – Design work is underway to redevelop Sea Rim State Park whose facilities were damaged first by Hurricane Rita, rebuilt and again destroyed in September 2008 by Hurricane Ike before the park could reopen.
The state park, which currently offers only limited facilities such as portable toilets and trash receptacles, is open for day use ($3) and primitive camping ($10). Park fees are collected through a self-pay system.
According to park superintendent Tracy Ferguson, there is both drive-on and pedestrian access to the beach. The ¾-mile Gambusia Boardwalk also has been restored, and for the first time in park history, seasonal equestrian use is being allowed from December through February.
“Even with limited facilities, it’s great to see the park open again for public use,” Ferguson says. “If you’re looking for a primitive escape along the gulf, you’ll find it on Sea Rim’s secluded five-mile stretch of beach.”
Though the park has limited services it is a great get away location with five miles of Gulf Coast Beach access.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has developed a two-phase master plan to redevelop the state park that the agency expects to begin implementing next summer. Construction of some of the facilities is expected to take a couple of years. The 81st Legislature provided $2 million for the recovery of Sea Rim State Park. So far, all storm debris and destroyed facilities have been removed and the park has been reopened on a limited basis.
All new park facilities, which will include a headquarters building and a residence for park personnel, will be designed to meet state building codes for hurricane resistance and conserve energy.
The park was named for a portion of the Gulf of Mexico shoreline where inland mud flats and tidal marshes meet the sea. The park encompasses more than 4,000 acres of marshlands and more than five miles of gulf shoreline. Highway 87 splits the park into the D. Roy Harrington Beach Unit and the Marshlands Unit.
Phase I construction sets forth the construction of a boardwalk to the beach, a maintenance building, park superintendent’s residence, two public vault toilets, a limited potable water distribution system and a wastewater collection and treatment system, according to Gary Kosut, TPWD Infrastructure Division project manager for the Sea Rim redevelopment. He says once work begins, it is expected to require nine months to a year to complete.
In addition, the Texas Department of Transportation is slated to begin work at the park in 2012.
“The Texas Department of Transportation will reconstruct park roads and parking lots for day-use visitors,” says Darrell Owens, the Infrastructure Division’s TxDOT program manager. Roadway construction is scheduled to begin in the late summer of 2012.”
The roadway system will include 15 pull-through RV camping sites with electric, water and wastewater hookups. An unpaved equestrian unloading area and trail to the beach also will be built.
Phase II of the redevelopment plan, which will provide for the completed build-out of the park as detailed in the Sea Rim State Park Redevelopment Master Plan, has not been funded. It calls for construction of a headquarters building, camping area restroom with showers, 10 tent platforms, a central water-wastewater facility, water distribution system, a dune walkover, wildlife-viewing blind, equestrian camping accessories and fish-cleaning shelter.
Sea Rim State Park, which opened to the public in 1977, has traditionally drawn thousands of outdoor lovers, who come to fish, sunbathe, paddle the marshlands, camp and observe the park’s great diversity of birds and other wildlife. The park is located along the Greater Texas Coastal Birding Trail and serves as a rest stop for numerous species of migrating birds traversing the Central Flyway.
For more information about Sea Rim State Park, call park superintendent Tracy Ferguson at (409) 971-2559.
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