SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — An increased number of food trucks will be able to operate in this coastal city.

During a meeting held on Wednesday, South Padre Island Council Member Eva Jean Dalton made an approved motion to increase the number of food trucks allowed in the city from 12 to 18.

Dalton said the decision was based on evaluations of the needs of the community, safety and health factors, staff recommendations and demand for additional mobile food units.

The number of food truck permits the city allowed was last increased three years ago.

In April 2018, the Food Truck Planning Committee agreed that 12 permits would be appropriate to be allowed by the ordinance.

The following month, city council approved the first and second readings of the ordinance to increase its total number of mobile food unit permits allowed from six to 12.

Department upgrades

Purchase requests from different city departments were approved by council during the meeting.

City council approved the purchase of a new generator for its fire station in the amount of $165,000.

The new generator will replace the current one, which officials said is more than 19 years old and only serves part of the fire station.

According to the meeting agenda, February’s extreme freeze caused the generator to suffer a catastrophic failure to the winding.

Assistant Public Works Director Jon Wilson said the new generator will be able to operate the entire fire station building for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the load and what time of year it is.

He added that it would take two to three months to receive the new generator and it’ll be about a week’s worth of work to install it.

Another department upgrade will be the purchase of a $86,925 brush truck for beach fires.

Officials said the new four-wheel drive truck will give access to soft or rough terrain, have a water tank and pump, as well as other firefighting tools, such as axes, chainsaws and rakes.

“One, we want to make sure that those fires don’t get into the structures and right now we don’t have any type of apparatus that can get onto the beach and be able to perform that duty,” SPI Fire Chief Jim Pigg said. “Second, we want to preserve the dunes as much as possible and we don’t want a fire that gets into there and spreads.”

Council approved a budget amendment in the amount of $78,000 for the purchase of two replacement trucks used inland and on the beach for the Environmental Health Services (EHS) Department.

Environmental Health Director Victor Baldovinos said the department’s current two trucks were in dire need of being replaced.

He added that one has been out of service and the other has major rust on its frame that’s almost to the point of being unsafe.

Convention Centre

Council also approved budget amendments from excess reserves for new flooring at the Convention Centre Exhibit Hall and two transit passenger vans.

According to SPI Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Ed Caum, the floor has not been redone since the Convention Centre was built, which was in 1992.

Caum said the floor has dead spots and wear and tear so the department felt like it was a good time to redo it.

“It’ll be etched and then we’ll put in a color seal over it so it’ll look so much better than just plain old concrete,” Caum said. “So it’ll be better for the people who are renting the facility from us.”

Caum said the total cost for new flooring will be $158,518 and will be covered by excess reserves.

According to Caum, the CVB spends about $20,000 a year renting transportation from other Valley companies to move groups and meetings around the Island.

“This coming year, we have enough meetings in-house that we’re going to need $33,000 to rent vans,” he said. “So I asked my staff to come up with a plan and find a way to offset that cost.”

The two new passenger vans, that cost $39,000 each, will replace the CVB department’s current passenger van that Caum said has outlived its life and served them well.

SPI Mayor Patrick McNulty explained that the passenger vans don’t travel to the airport. They stay on the Island and service conventions.

“Just to clear this up, this is for people who have conventions at the Convention Centre and then we help move the people from the Convention Centre to their respective hotels. This is a complete Convention Centre operation,” he said. “There’s no outside agency or business that’s helping out in this. It’s all going to be done in-house.”