The Grant Connection’s Greg Harlan provided an overview of possible grant opportunities for Rockport Beach to Aransas County Navigation District commissioners at their regular meeting Monday, May 6.

He talked about Non-urban Outdoor Recreation grants through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Boating Access grants, and Coastal Management Program (CMP) grants, noting the TPWD grant is similar to what was used to build the original Rockport Beach Park (a $750,000 matching grant at that time).

The TPWD grant program today is up to $500,000, which could help finance a project(s) up to $1 million.

“This could be used for anything (at Rockport Beach),” said Harlan, but added a master plan for the beach is required.

He noted grant applications are scored via a point system, and the ACND wouldn’t qualify for some of the points because it wouldn’t be applicable in the district’s case (i.e.-donating land). He said applications are looked upon favorably when they include the use of local resources and cooperation among entities.

“Anything (project) you think would make (Rockport Beach) better would be eligible,” said Harlan.

Harbor Master Keith Barrett, speaking for Commissioner Tommy Moore, who was not at Monday’s meeting, said, “Tommy would like to see a splash park. One of the navigation districts up the coast has one and it’s very popular.”

A Boating Access grant (or boat ramp grant), is similar to those the ACND used in the development of its boat ramps.

Harlan said this grant might be used to build an additional standalone restroom facility in the vicinity of the boat ramp at the beach.

He talked briefly about the CMP grant, but noted it is generally for habitat-type projects. Harlan also said the program doesn’t have a lot of money in it at this time.

Chairman Malcolm Dieckow suggested looking at habitat-related projects in Little Bay.

Harbor Master Keith Barrett suggested using this type grant for additional living reefs in Little Bay.

Commissioner Judy Vlasek asked Barrett what the district’s greatest needs are at this time.

Barrett said that will be “flushed out” during the next budget process, but noted restroom facilities are major assets.

“When we put them in next to boat ramps it changed everything,” said Barrett. “It divided up the pressure on our facilities.”

On the flip side, he said, “You wouldn’t believe how many complaints we got when we had to put in the portable toilets (at the boat ramps and Rockport Beach) after Harvey.”

Barrett also talked favorably about adding additional living reefs in Little Bay.

“We were condemned (when we made the decision to put them in Little Bay), but they are some of the best water filtering mechanisms,” he said. “I think we could write a pretty good application (for a grant based on the reefs’ success).”

Vlasek noted the district has also been asked to provide additional access to Copano Bay.

Commissioner Mickey Casterline said Fulton wants a boat ramp, as well.

Harlan will continue to explore grant opportunities, and commissioners will take a closer look at how to fund required matches when they start on next year’s budget.

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